Under Minnesota law, a separation occurs when spouses begin to no longer live together but a divorce only occurs after a final court order. In Minnesota, a divorce is called a “dissolution of marriage”. To file for divorce in Minnesota, at least one of the spouses must have lived in the state for at least 180 days.
What Paperwork Do You Need to File for Divorce?
There are several forms that must be prepared, served and filed during the divorce process in Minnesota.
- Summons and Petition. The spouse seeking the divorce must give the other spouse notice that he or she has begun the divorce process. Service can become complicated. For example, where the spouses no longer live together or have limited contact.
- Answer. The spouse receiving notice of a divorce can respond – this is an answer. The answer can set out the terms of an amicable divorce (i.e., the parties agree to certain terms) or the answer can be contentious and request mediation and/or court intervention to divide marital assets or make child custody determinations.
- Motions and Court Orders. Motions are how parties communicate with the court system. Once a court has decided, they will issue a court order directing the parties to do, or refrain from doing, certain things.
- Divorce Decree. A divorce decree is the court’s final order dissolving the marriage. A divorce decree will layout the grounds the court found for the distribution of marital assets or division of child responsibility.
Each of these pieces of paperwork must be complete and accurate; failing to do so can
lead to a loss or rights and protections. Have an experienced divorce lawyer review any filings you make with a court of law.
Community Property vs. Separate Property
A divorce will bring up questions about how marital property is to be divided. A “community property” state will generally divide all assets accumulated during a marriage in half; however, Minnesota is considered an “equitable property” state. This means that when dividing marital assets, the court will make determinations based on what it finds fair. You should be aware that an equitable distribution of property can lead to property not being divided evenly.
What Should You Do If There are Children Involved?
Children will complicate almost all divorces. Courts will spend a significant amount of time trying to determine what is in the best interest of the children. Generally, stability is given significant weight in making determinations about which parent will receive primary custody. A court will look at:
- the location of the child’s friends, family, school, etc.,
- the financial resources of each parent (including his or her ability to make more money),
- where the child’s siblings are located, and
- the desires of the child (assuming they are of an age to make such a determination).
Child support may also be required, depending on the type of custody, how much the paying parent earns, and how many children the amount must support. However, the court is free to award any amount they think is necessary, so while there are guidelines in the state law they can ignore them.
Do You Need to Pay Alimony?
Alimony is payments made from one former spouse to the other. These payments are made to ensure that former spouses can meet their financial obligations and transition out of the marriage. A Minnesota court will consider how the former spouse was accustomed to living, their financial needs, the length of the marriage and many other factors when making alimony determinations.
Where Can You Find the Right Divorce Lawyer?
If you are preparing to file for divorce, or were just served with divorce papers, then contact an experienced Minnesota divorce lawyer today to discuss your rights and options under Minnesota divorce law.