How to File Divorce in Minnesota

How to File Divorce in Minnesota

Minnesota is one of the most interesting political states in the country, with major Senate races and even Presidential politics coming into play.  All of that can be hard on a marriage, so here is a basic explanation of how to seek a divorce in Minnesota. 


At least one spouse must reside in Minnesota for at least 180 days before beginning a divorce proceeding.

No fault only

Many people go into a divorce very angry with their spouse, and that is understandable.  Your spouse may have cheated on you or wasted your family’s money. That does not make a difference in actually getting the divorce, though. 

In Minnesota, the only ground for divorce is an “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage relationship.”  It does not matter if it is amicable or caused by adultery if at least one spouse wants out of the marriage the court will let them out.  

Kids and money

The real dispute in a divorce is over the children and the marital property.

Money is in some ways more straightforward because it is generally a one-time deal.  The court is required to make a ruling on the division of property at the time of divorce.  

Minnesota is an “equitable division” state.  That means that everything the couple earns during the marriage is added up into one big pot and then divided up by the judge.

Note that marital property does not include things that each spouse brought into the marriage or that they were gifted or inherited.

The judge has to consider a very specific list of facts, including how much property each spouse brought into the marriage and what they will have after, along with their ability to support themselves. 

Factors like age, health, occupation, and employability are all specifically listed. 

If one spouse earns way more money than the other then the lower-earning spouse might get more money. That is especially true when one spouse was a homemaker earning little to no money but making it possible for the other spouse to have a successful career.  Spousal support, also known as alimony, is also available as a solution. 

Children are a particular challenge for a number of reasons

First, the court is responsible for the “best interests of the child.”

Typically, the courts will defer to what the parents think, but factors like each parent’s involvement, the child’s wishes and safety, and the importance of other relationships in the child’s life come into play.

The other major challenge with children in a divorce is that custody and support are ongoing issues.

The court may order a certain visitation schedule for a toddler that may be completely unworkable by the time that child is a teenager. Minnesota allows the parents to request a six-month review to address custody, parenting time, and support rights or obligations.

This allows the parent an opportunity to have changed circumstances addressed.  If one parent is paying child support and then gets laid off, the support might need to be adjusted, for example. 

The review can also address more complicated issues, like the custody schedule. It can also just be an opportunity for the  court to address unpaid child support.

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