The 8 Steps of the Divorce Process in Minnesota

Image of steps in the Minnesota divorce process

The duration and specifics of a divorce process in Minnesota mainly depend on the type of marriage dissolution. Uncontested divorces are typically finalized faster, while contested cases require more time. Anyway, in this article, you can find a general description of steps for getting a divorce in the state and Minnesota divorce laws to adhere to along the way.

Step 1. Residency Requirements

To start a divorce in Minnesota, you must ensure you qualify to file your papers with the local court. According to the state divorce laws, either spouse must live in Minnesota or be a member of the armed forces stationed there for at least 180 days.

Step 2. Grounds for Divorce

Minnesota is a no-fault divorce state, meaning neither party has to prove the partner’s misconduct to apply for marriage dissolution. So, they can get MN no-fault divorce if there is an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and there is no possibility for reconciliation.

Step 3. Preparing Documents and Serving Spouse with Papers

Woman preparing documents for divorce in Minnesota
Preparing divorce documents in Minnesota can be challenging due to the requisite legal knowledge and attention to detail.

To get a divorce in MN, a person initiating marriage dissolution, referred to as a petitioner, has to collect personal data and use it when filling out the divorce forms specific to their case. It is possible to get the templates from the local courthouse, download them from the official court website, or order the papers from a credible online service, given your case is uncontested. A standard set of required forms usually includes, but is not limited to:

In addition to the originals, make sure to prepare copies of the forms.

Once done with the paperwork, a petitioner has to serve copies of the Summons and Petition to the other spouse, a defendant. A petitioner can hire a sheriff or ask someone over 18 unrelated to the case to serve the papers. It is necessary that they provide you with an Affidavit of Service to prove that the other party received the documents.

If parties are cooperative, it is possible to waive the service process if the respondent agrees to sign the Waiver of Service of Summons form.

If a defendant cannot be found or purposefully avoids the server, a petitioner may file the Application for Service by Alternate Means to deliver documents in other ways, e.g., by publication in a newspaper.

Step 4. Your Spouse’s Answer and Counterpetition

A defendant has 30 days to prepare a response. During this stage of divorce, they can either agree with the terms determined by a petitioner or disagree with them. In the second case, the divorce becomes contested since spouses have particular disputes about one or several divorce-related issues.

A petitioner can ask the court for a default judgment if a respondent does not reply within a stipulated time. It means the judge will consider only one party’s point of view and the terms specified in the Petition when deciding on the case.

If parties agree on every divorce issue, they can fill out the Stipulated Judgment and Decree to file it with the court.

Step 5. Filing the Petition for Divorce

Woman fills out petition for divorce in Minnesota
Completing a divorce petition in Minnesota requires adherence to specific legal procedures.

The next step is to bring the Petition and other documents, depending on the case, to the local court. You should file in the county where either spouse lives.

When you file for divorce in Minnesota, you must pay a filing fee that is around $365 but may fluctuate across the state. If you lack money to pay this amount, you can request the court to waive the payment by completing an Affidavit to Request Fee Waiver (In Forma Pauperis).

In addition to filing in person, it is also possible to eFile the documents; this option is more suitable in uncontested cases and advantageous in terms of speed and convenience.

No matter what method you choose, as long as you’re on amicable terms with your partner and resolve all issues on your own, you can deal with the case without the attorney’s assistance. Check out this article to learn more about a divorce without a lawyer.

Step 6. Financial Disclosure

Financial disclosure is an important step in a legal process when both spouses have to provide a comprehensive and accurate account of their financial situation. They should inform the court about their income, expenses, assets, debts, etc. It’s needed to ensure transparency and fairness in the divorce proceedings, specifically when defining child support, alimony, and the division of assets and liabilities. If a spouse attempts to deceive the court and the other party by concealing assets, there will be serious legal consequences.

Step 7. Court Review

Two men review divorce papers in Minnesota
The length of the Minnesota divorce trial varies depending on the complexity of the issues.

The court will study the submitted divorce documents to ensure they meet legal requirements and address all the issues relevant to the divorce case. If a judge finds any discrepancies or incomplete information, they will ask a couple to provide additional documentation or clarification.

For contested divorces, several hearings may be needed to address specific matters such as child custody, spousal support, or property division. Besides, the judge may mandate spouses to visit a mediator if there is any possibility to resolve their disagreements without proceeding with a trial. It happens that spouses manage to find a consensus, reducing the number of litigation steps in the divorce process.

Step 8. Finalizing the Divorce

When the judge approves the divorce terms, a petitioner will receive a signed Final Divorce Decree. This document serves as official proof that the marriage was dissolved and outlines the legal responsibilities and rights of each party. If either spouse neglects the terms specified in the Decree, they may face penalties.

Though dissolution of marriage may seem like a complicated, long, and exhausting process, it is possible to avoid most worries. A win-win option for couples willing to end their relationship quickly is to apply for an uncontested divorce. The overall divorce timeframe can be a couple of months instead of 12+ months of contested proceedings.

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