Divorce in Minnesota is referred to as Dissolution of Marriage.
To obtain a divorce in Minnesota, one of the spouses must have lived in the state, or has been a member of the armed services stationed in the state, for at least 180 days before filing, or has a domicile in the state for at least 180 days before filing.
The Petitioner (filing party) may file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in the county where either party resides. If neither party resides in the state, and jurisdiction is based on the domicile of either spouse, the proceeding may be commenced in the county where either party is domiciled. If neither party resides or is domiciled in the state and jurisdiction is premised upon one of the parties being a member of the armed forces stationed in Minnesota for at least 180 days before filing, the proceeding may be commenced in the county where the service member is stationed.
The Petitioner must personally serve the Respondent (non-filing party) with the Summons and Petition, unless a Joint Petition is filed. The Respondent has 30 days to answer the Petition. In the case of service by publication, the 30 day time period does not begin until the expiration of the period allowed for publication. In the case of a Counter-Petition for dissolution or legal separation to a Petition for Dissolution or Legal Separation, no Answer to the Counter-Petition is required, and the original Petitioner is deemed to have denied each and every statement, allegation and claim in the Counter-Petition.
If the Respondent does not appear after service duly made and proved, the court may hear and determine the proceeding as a default matter.
Summary Dissolution Process:
Summary Dissolution is a streamlined process for obtaining a divorce. To qualify for this process, the following requirements must be met:
A couple meeting the qualifying criteria may obtain a judgment and decree by filing a sworn joint declaration with both their signatures notarized, and watching an introductory and summary process video, if then available from the court, and certifying that they watched the video within the 30 days preceding the filing of the joint declaration.
The district court administrator shall enter a decree of dissolution 30 days after the filing of the joint declaration.
In the final decree of dissolution or legal separation the court shall, if requested by a party, change the name of that party to another name as the party requests.
The court shall grant a request unless it finds that there is intent to defraud or mislead. The court shall notify the parties that use of a different surname after dissolution or legal separation without complying with the law is a gross misdemeanor. The party's new name shall be so designated in the final decree.
If the party requesting a name change has a felony conviction he/she must follow the applicable laws, which include serving a notice of application for a name change on the prosecuting authority that obtained the conviction against him/her.
Dissolution of a marriage shall be granted by a county or district court when the court finds that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage relationship.
If one of the parties has denied under oath or affirmation that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including the circumstances that gave rise to the commencement of the proceeding and the prospect of reconciliation, and shall make a finding whether the marriage is irretrievably broken.
A finding that the marriage is irretrievably broken must be supported by evidence that the parties have lived separate and apart for at least 180 days immediately prior to the commencement of the proceeding, or there is serious marital discord adversely affecting the attitude of one or both of the parties toward the marriage.
If both parties by petition or otherwise have state under oath or affirmation that the marriage is irretrievably broken, or one of the parties has alleged this and the other has not denied it, the court shall make a finding that the marriage is irretrievably broken, after hearing.
Approval without Hearing:
Proposed Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, Order for Judgment, and Judgment and Decree must be submitted to the court for approval and filing without a final hearing in the following situations:
In any case where the proposed judgment and decree does not appear to be in the best interests of the minor children, or is contrary to the interests of justice, the court shall schedule the matter for hearing.
All marriages prohibited by law shall be absolutely void, without any decree of dissolution or other legal proceedings, with the following exception. When a person who's husband or wife has been absent for four successive years, without being known to the person to be living during that time, marries during the lifetime of the absent husband or wife, the marriage shall be void only from the time that its nullity is adjudged. If the absentee is declared dead, the subsequent marriage shall not be void.
A marriage shall be declared a nullity under the following circumstances:
Filing for annulment and subsequent proceedings shall be held the same as in dissolutions. Upon due proof of the nullity of the marriage, it shall be adjudged null and void.
Laws related to property rights of the spouses, maintenance, support and custody of children upon dissolution of marriage are applicable to proceedings for annulment.
No marriage shall be adjudged a nullity on the ground that one of the parties was under the age of legal consent if it appears that the parties had voluntarily cohabitated together as husband and wife after having attained the age of legal consent. Nor shall the marriage of any insane person be adjudged void after restoration to reason, if it appears that the parties freely cohabitated together as husband and wife after such restoration.
An annulment may be sought by any of the following persons and must be commenced within the times specified, but in no event may an annulment be sought after the death of either party to the marriage:
Upon a dissolution of a marriage or an annulment, the court shall make a just and equitable division of the marital property of the parties without regard to marital misconduct, after making findings regarding the division of the property.
The court shall base its findings on all relevant factors, including the following:
The court shall presume that each spouse made a substantial contribution to the acquisition of income and property while they were living together as husband and wife. The court may also award to either spouse the household goods and furniture of the parties, whether or not acquired during the marriage.
Marital property is defined as property, real or personal, including vested public or private pension plan benefits or rights, acquired by the parties, or either of them, to a dissolution, legal separation, or annulment proceeding at any time during the existence of the marriage, or at any time during which the parties were living together as husband and wife under a purported marriage relationship which is annulled in an annulment proceeding, but prior to the date of valuation.
All property acquired by either spouse after the marriage and before the valuation, is presumed to be marital property regardless of how it is titled.
Non-marital property is defined as property, real or personal, acquired by either spouse before, during or after the existence of their marriage which was acquired in the following ways;
If the court finds that either spouse's resources or property, including the spouse's portion of the marital property, are so inadequate as to work an unfair hardship, considering all relevant circumstances, the court may, in addition to the marital property, apportion up to one-half of the non-marital property, which is otherwise excluded, to prevent the unfair hardship.
The division of marital property that represents pension plan benefits or rights in the form of future pension plan payments:
In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or legal separation, the court may grant a maintenance order for either spouse if it finds either of the following regarding the spouse seeking maintenance:
The maintenance order shall be in amounts and for periods of time, either temporary or permanent, as the court deems just, without regard to marital misconduct, and after considering all relevant factors, including the following:
When there is some uncertainty regarding the necessity of a permanent award, the court shall order a permanent award leaving it order open for later modification.
The parties may expressly preclude or limit later modification of maintenance through a stipulation, if the court makes specific findings that the stipulation is fair and equitable, is supported by consideration described in the court's findings, and that full disclosure of each party's financial circumstances has occurred. The stipulation must be made a part of the judgment and decree.
Upon adjudging the nullity of a marriage, or in a dissolution or separation proceeding, the court shall order as it deems just and proper, concerning the following:
In a court of Minnesota which has jurisdiction to decide child custody matters, a child custody proceeding is commenced by a parent by filing a Petition for Dissolution or Legal Separation.
In determining custody, the court shall consider the best interests of each child and shall not prefer one parent over the other solely on the basis of the sex of the parent. All relevant factors will be considered and evaluated by the court, including the following:
The court may not use one factor to the exclusion of all others. The primary caretaker factor may not be used as a presumption in determining the best interests of the child. The court may not consider conduct of a proposed custodian that does not affect the custodian's relationship to the child.
In addition to the factors listed above, where either joint legal or joint physical custody is contemplated or sought, the court shall consider the following relevant factors when joint custody is sought:
The court will generally give preference to joint legal custody when requested by either or both parties, unless domestic abuse has occurred between the parents.
The court may interview the child in chambers to ascertain the child's reasonable preference as to custodian, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.
Upon the request of either parent, the court shall grant such parenting time on behalf of the child and a parent that will enable the child and the parent to maintain a child to parent relationship that will be in the best interests of the child.
If the court finds, after a hearing, that parenting time with a parent is likely to endanger the child's physical or emotional health or impair the child's emotional development, the court shall restrict parenting time with that parent as to time, place, duration, or supervision and may deny parenting time entirely, as the circumstances warrant. The court shall consider the age of the child and the child's relationship with the parent prior to the commencement of the proceeding.
Upon the request of both parents, a parenting plan must be created in place of an order for child custody and parenting time unless the court makes detailed findings that the proposed plan is not in the best interests of the child.
Parenting plans must include the following elements:
A parenting plan may include other issues and matters the parents agree to, regarding the child. Parents voluntarily agreeing to parenting plans may substitute other terms for physical and legal custody, including designations of joint or sole custody, provided that the terms used in the substitution are defined in the parenting plan.
If both parents do not agree to a parenting plan, the court may create one on its own motion, except in instances of domestic abuse against a parent or child who is a party or subject of, the matter.
In a contested proceeding involving custody or parenting time of a minor child, the parties must attend a minimum of eight hours in an orientation and parent education program that meets minimum standards established by the Minnesota Supreme Court within 30 days after the first filing with the court.
If past or present domestic abuse is alleged, the court shall not require the parties to attend the same parent education sessions and shall enter an order setting forth the manner in which the parties may safely participate in the program.
The legislature sets child support policy in Minnesota. The state's child support guidelines, based on the Income Shares Model, determine support amounts using all the following criteria:
The guidelines use each parent's monthly gross income and consider basic, medical and child care support. A parent's monthly gross income is reduced by the amount of spousal maintenance or child support that the parent is ordered to pay from other support orders. Minnesota law allows a deduction from a parent's monthly gross income for a maximum of two non-joint children in their home.
Basic support is for the child's expenses, such as food, clothing and transportation, and does not include payments on arrears. It is calculated by multiplying the paying parent's percentage of the combined Parental Income for Determining Child Support (PICS) by the combined basic support amount. If a court orders parenting time to the paying parent of ten percent or more, he/she may receive a deduction from basic support, based on the percentage of court-ordered parenting time.
Medical support is providing for or contributing to health care coverage for a joint child. If the custodial parent is determined to owe medical support, the amount will be subtracted from the non-custodial parent's child support.
Child care support assists in paying for work or school related child care, and is based on each parent's share of their combined PICS.
A parent of a child is liable for the amount of public assistance furnished to and for the benefit of the child, including any assistance furnished for the caretaker of the child, which the parent has had the ability to pay.
Legal separation in Minnesota is a court determination of the rights and responsibilities of a husband and wife arising out of the marital relationship. A decree of legal separation shall be granted when the court finds that one or both parties need a legal separation.
If one or both parties petition for a decree of legal separation and neither party contests the granting of the decree, nor petitions for a decree of dissolution, the court shall grant a decree of legal separation.
Temporary maintenance and temporary support may be awarded in a proceeding brought for legal separation. The court may also award to either party to the proceeding, having due regard to all the circumstances and the party awarded the custody of the children, the right to the exclusive use of the household goods and furniture of the parties pending the proceeding and the right to the use of the homestead of the parties, exclusive or otherwise, pending the proceeding.
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