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How do I file for divorce in Minnesota?

How do I file for divorce in Minnesota?

A divorce is a major life change. The Holmes and Rahe life change index rates divorce as the second most stressful event a person can experience. That means divorce is more stressful than getting fired, going to jail, falling ill, or even the death of a close family member.

Understanding the legal requirements and ramifications of a divorce can add even more stress. That’s why we put together this guide to help you navigate this difficult time with as much ease as possible.

How is a divorce finalized in Minnesota?

The legal term for a divorce in Minnesota is a “dissolution of marriage”. The court considers a marriage “dissolved” once it has entered the final papers in the court’s records. These final papers are called the Judgment and Decree. The document contains the final decision on all issues of the divorce case, from division of property and debt to child custody.

How long does it take to get a divorce in Minnesota?

How long does it take to get a divorce in Minnesota? In short, it depends!

An uncontested divorce, where both spouses agree on the terms of the divorce, can take several weeks or a few months.

When the spouses can’t agree, this is a contested divorce. These can take much longer — from several months to even years.

What are the legal requirements to get divorced in Minnesota?

Generally, either you or your spouse must have been living in Minnesota for at least 180 days. 

An exception to the rule? If you or your spouse is a member of the armed forces, and that person has kept their Minnesota residency, you can legally get divorced in Minnesota.

How do I file for a divorce?

  1. File and serve your forms. Assuming you or your spouse have been living in Minnesota for at least 180 days, the first step is to file court forms. You must file and serve the court forms with the district court in the county where one of the spouses is living. The forms are called a Summons and Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. 
  2. The receiving spouse must file an answer. When one spouse files and serves the petition, the other spouse must respond to the court within 30 days. If they do not respond, the divorce will be considered a default. In this case, the unresponsive party forfeits their rights and a court may grant the divorce without the unresponsive party’s participation.

    If the receiving spouse disagrees with any of the relief requested by the petition, the receiving spouse can contest the requested relief by filing and serving a counterpetition. This may lead to a series of court appearances to sort out any issues. 

Do I need an attorney to get a divorce in Minnesota?

You are not required to have an attorney to get a divorce in Minnesota. You can represent yourself. However, judges are unable to provide legal advice to unrepresented parties and the court will expect unrepresented parties to follow the law and court rules.

What are the benefits of hiring a divorce lawyer?

While filing for divorce on your own is legal and possible, it might not be the best idea depending on your situation. If any of the following apply to you, hiring an attorney can be helpful:

  • If you have significant or complicated assets to divide
  • If you rely on your spouse for financial support
  • If you have children
  • If you have experienced domestic violence or abuse of any kind
  • If your spouse already has an attorney
  • If you can’t agree on the terms of your divorce

As a best practice, you should talk to more than one lawyer before deciding who to hire. Most lawyers offer a free consultation to help you decide if you want to hire them.

Remember, a divorce has long-lasting consequences, many of which cannot be undone once the divorce is over. Hiring someone who knows the legal system and can ensure your divorce is fair is a valuable investment.

How much does a divorce cost in Minnesota?

The cost of your divorce will vary depending on the issues of your case and whether or not the divorce is contested. 

Do I have to go to court to get a divorce in Minnesota?

Most divorces are settled without a trial. Yet, once the Summons and Petition are filed with court, the court will begin to schedule a mandatory court appearance. In some situations, it is possible for a contested divorce to reach a comprehensive settlement on all issues, before the first court appearance or even before the Summons and Petition are filed with the court. Minnesota law requires a final hearing in limited certain circumstances, even when a comprehensive settlement is reached.


Do you have additional questions about divorce that weren’t answered here? Schedule a free consultation with us and get the answers you need to proceed with your divorce with as little stress as possible. You deserve a fair outcome.

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