Divorce Guide

Divorce Guide


Minnesota Divorce Laws



Residency Requirements for Divorce in Minnesota
One of the spouses must have been a resident of Minnesota for at least 180 days immediately before the petition for dissolution of marriage is filed. The dissolution of marriage may be filed for in a county where either spouse resides.
[Minnesota Statutes Annotated; Chapters 518.07 and 518.09].

Legal Grounds for Divorce in Minnesota

  1. No Fault Divorce: Irrevocable breakdown of the marriage shown by:
    1. Living separate and apart for 180 days
    2. Serious marital discord adversely affecting the attitude of 1 or both of the spouses toward the marriage
    [Minnesota Statutes Annotated; Chapters 518.06 and 518.13].
  2. General Divorce: Irrevocable breakdown of the marriage is the only grounds for dissolution of marriage in Minnesota.
    [Minnesota Statutes Annotated; Chapter 518.06].

Legal Separation in Minnesota
The grounds for a legal separation in Minnesota are that it will be granted if the court finds that the spouses need a legal separation. One of the spouses must have been a resident of Minnesota for at least 6 months before the petition for legal separation is filed.
[Minnesota Statutes Annotated; Chapters 518.06 and 518.07].

Simplified/Special Divorce Procedures in Minnesota
The petition may be brought by both spouses jointly as Co-Petitioners. This eliminates the need for service of process or the use of a summons.
[Minnesota Statutes Annotated; Chapters 518.09 and 518.11].

Divorce Mediation or Counseling Requirements
Mediation may be ordered in cases in which the custody of children is contested, unless there is a history of spousal abuse or physical or sexual child abuse.
[Minnesota Statutes Annotated; Chapter 518.619].

Divorce Property Distribution
Minnesota is an "equitable distribution" state. Each spouse retains his or her non-marital (separate) property, consisting of:

  1. Property acquired prior to the marriage
  2. Any gifts or inheritances
  3. Property exchanged for such non-marital property
  4. An increase in value of such non-marital property
All other marital property, including any pension and retirement plans, is divided, without regard to fault, after a consideration of the following factors:
  1. The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of each spouse as homemaker
  2. The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property is to become effective
  3. The length of the marriage
  4. The age and health of the spouses
  5. The occupation of the spouses
  6. The amount and sources of income of the spouses
  7. The vocational skills of the spouses
  8. The employability of the spouses
  9. The liabilities and needs of each spouse and the opportunity of each for further acquisition of capital assets and income
  10. Any prior marriage of each spouse
  11. Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the spouses
[Minnesota Statutes Annotated; Chapter 518.58].

Alimony and Spousal Support
Either spouse may be awarded maintenance, without regard to marital fault, if the spouse seeking maintenance:

  1. Lacks sufficient property to provide for reasonable needs considering the standard of living attained during the marriage
  2. Is unable to provide adequate self-support, considering the standard of living attained during the marriage, through appropriate employment
  3. Is the custodian of a child whose condition or circumstances make it appropriate that the custodian not be required to seek employment outside the home
The award of maintenance is based on a consideration of the following factors:
  1. The sacrifices the homemaker has made in terms of earnings, employment, experience, and opportunities
  2. The time necessary to acquire sufficient education and training to enable the spouse to find appropriate employment, that spouse's future earning capacity, and the probability of completing education and training and becoming fully or partially self-supporting
  3. The standard of living established during the marriage
  4. The duration of the marriage and, in the case of a homemaker, the length of absence from employment and the extent to which any education, skills, or experience have become outmoded and earning capacity has become permanently diminished
  5. The ability of the spouse from whom support is sought to meet his or her needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking support
  6. The financial resources of the spouse seeking maintenance, including marital property apportioned to such spouse and such spouse's ability to meet his or her needs independently
  7. The contribution of each spouse to the marriage, including services rendered in homemaking, childcare, education, and career-building of the other spouse
  8. The age of the spouses
  9. The physical and emotional conditions of the spouses
  10. Any loss of earnings, seniority, retirement benefits, or other employment opportunities foregone by the spouse seeking maintenance
  11. Any other factor the court deems just and equitable
If the spouse receives public aid, the payments are to be made through the public aid agency.
[Minnesota Statutes Annotated; Chapters 518.551 and 518.552].

Spouse's Name After Divorce
Upon request, either spouse may change his or her name, unless there is intent to mislead or defraud.
[Minnesota Statutes Annotated; Chapter 518.27].

Child Custody After Divorce
Joint or sole custody may be awarded. Sole custody will be awarded based on the best interests of the child and the following:

  1. The child's cultural background
  2. Physical and mental health of all parties
  3. Capability and desire of each parent to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue raising the child in the child's culture and religion or creed, if any
  4. Preference of the child, if the child is of sufficient age and capacity
  5. The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity
  6. The wishes of the parents
  7. The child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community
  8. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved
  9. The relationship of the child with parents, siblings, and other significant family members
  10. The conduct of the proposed guardian only as it bears on his or her relationship with the child
  11. The stability of the home environment likely to be offered by each parent
  12. A need to promote continuity and stability in the life of the child
  13. The effect of any child or spouse abuse on the child
  14. The child's primary caretaker
  15. Any other factors
The primary caretaker factor is not a presumption in favor of the primary caretaker, but is only 1 factor in the decision.

If both parents request joint custody, there is a presumption that such an arrangement will be in the best interests of the child, unless there has been any spousal abuse. If there has been any history of spousal abuse, there is a presumption that joint custody is not in the best interests of the child. Joint custody will be based on a consideration of the above factors and the following:

  1. Dispute resolution methods
  2. The effect of 1 parent having custody
  3. The ability of the parents to cooperate and make decisions jointly
If both parents seek custody of a child who is too young to express a preference, the "primary caretaker" is to be awarded custody.
[Minnesota Statutes Annotated; Chapter 518.17 and Minnesota Case Law].

Child Support After Divorce
In determining child support, the following factors are considered:

  1. The financial resources of the child
  2. The financial resources, earnings, income, and assets of the parents
  3. The standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the marriage had not been dissolved
  4. The physical and emotional conditions and educational needs of the child
  5. The amount of public aid received by the child or parent
  6. Any income tax consequences of the payment of support
  7. Any debt of the parents
Misconduct of a parent in the marriage is not to be considered. If the parent to receive the support payments is receiving or has applied for public aid, the support payments must be made to the public agency responsible for child support enforcement in Minnesota. There are official child support guidelines contained in Minnesota Statutes Annotated; Chapter 518.551.
[Minnesota Statutes Annotated; Chapters 518.551 and 518.552].


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