Minnesota Divorce Laws and Guidelines

Minnesota state has its own unique set of divorce laws, which can be complex and nuanced. Understanding these laws is crucial for anyone going through a divorce in MN.

If you are getting into a divorce in Minnesota, it is beneficial to be knowledgeable about the divorce laws. Whether you decide to hire an MN family attorney or handle the divorce yourself, you will need to make important decisions and should be aware of what to anticipate.

The courts in MN will consider various factors in the divorce settlement, including property division, spousal support, and child custody and support. Minnesota is an equitable distribution state, meaning that marital property is divided fairly but not necessarily equally.

In this article, we will take a comprehensive dive into everything you need to know about Minnesota divorce laws and guidelines, so you make your best decision while you move along.

Types of Divorce in MN

In Minnesota state, there are two types of divorce available:

  1. Uncontested Divorce: In an uncontested divorce, both spouses agree on all the terms of the divorce, such as child custody and support, property division, and spousal maintenance. This type of divorce is usually quicker and less expensive than a contested divorce, as it does not require a trial or court intervention.
  2. Contested Divorce: In a contested divorce, the spouses are not able to agree on one or more terms of the divorce, and therefore, the court must intervene to make decisions. This type of divorce can be more time-consuming and expensive, as it may require multiple court hearings and the involvement of attorneys to represent each spouse’s interests.

Divorce rate in Minnesota

The divorce rate in Minnesota has been relatively stable over the past few decades. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, in 2020, there were 8.3 divorces per 1,000 residents, which is slightly lower than the national average of 9.0 divorces per 1,000 residents.

The divorce rate in Minnesota has been declining since the 1980s, when it peaked at 6.6 divorces per 1,000 residents. However, this does not necessarily mean that fewer couples are experiencing marital problems, as some couples may choose to separate without getting a divorce. Additionally, Minnesota has a relatively high rate of unmarried cohabitation, which may also contribute to a lower divorce rate.

How to File for Divorce in MN

Filing for divorce in Minnesota State can be a complicated process, involving various legal requirements and procedures. In general, the process involves filing the necessary paperwork with the MN family court, serving the other spouse with the divorce papers, and attending court hearings as required. The specific steps involved can vary depending on the type of divorce, whether it is contested or uncontested, and other factors.

Divorce Process in Minnesota

ere are the steps to file for divorce in Minnesota state:

  1. Meet residency requirements: To file for divorce in Minnesota, at least one spouse must have lived in the state for a minimum of 180 days before filing.
  2. Determine grounds for divorce: Minnesota is a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning that a spouse does not need to prove fault or wrongdoing to file for divorce. However, a spouse may choose to cite grounds for divorce, such as irreconcilable differences or living apart for a certain period of time.
  3. Complete the necessary forms: The spouse filing for divorce (the “petitioner”) must complete and file a Summons and Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the court. The petitioner must also serve the other spouse (the “respondent”) with the forms.
  4. Exchange financial information: Both spouses must exchange financial information, including income, assets, and debts, as part of the divorce process.
  5. Attend mediation (if necessary): If the spouses cannot agree on certain terms of the divorce, such as child custody or property division, they may be required to attend mediation to attempt to reach a resolution.
  6. Attend court hearings: The spouses may be required to attend court hearings to finalize the divorce and address any remaining issues.
  7. Obtain a divorce decree: Once the court approves the terms of the divorce, the spouses will receive a divorce decree, which outlines the terms of the divorce and makes the divorce official.

Online Divorce in Minnesota

Minnesota does not currently offer a process for online divorce. In order to file for divorce in Minnesota, the petitioner must complete and file a Summons and Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the court. The respondent must then be served with the forms, and the spouses must exchange financial information and attend court hearings if necessary.

While some websites may offer to provide divorce forms online, these forms may not be valid or may not meet the requirements of the court. You can read our comprehensive guide about online divorce here.

Cost of Divorce in Minnesota

In Minnesota state, the cost of divorce can vary depending on a number of factors, such as whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, the complexity of the issues involved, and the fees charged by attorneys and the court.

Here are some stipulated fees for certain issues related to MN divorce:

  1. Filing fee: The filing fee for a divorce in Minnesota is $400 as of 2023. This fee must be paid when the petitioner files the Summons and Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the court.
  2. Parenting class fee: If there are minor children involved in the divorce, both parties may be required to attend a parenting class. The fee for this class can vary, but it is typically around $50 per person.
  3. Mediation fees: If the spouses are unable to agree on certain terms of the divorce and are required to attend mediation, there may be fees associated with this process. The fees can vary depending on the mediator and the length of the mediation session.
  4. Attorney fees: If either party hires an attorney to represent them in the divorce, there will be attorney fees associated with this representation. Attorney fees can vary widely depending on the complexity of the case and the hourly rate of the attorney.

Divorce Papers and Forms MN

Minnesota requires various forms and papers to be filed in order to initiate and complete a divorce. These papers and forms can vary depending on the circumstances of the divorce, such as whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, whether children are involved, and the assets and debts of the couple.

Some of the most common forms required in a Minnesota State divorce include a Summons with Notice or Summons and Complaint, a Verified Complaint, Affidavit of Service, and a Judgment of Divorce.

Grounds for Divorce in MN

In Minnesota, divorce is available for both fault and no-fault grounds. Fault grounds require one spouse to prove that the other spouse was at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. No-fault grounds, on the other hand, do not require either spouse to prove fault.

Fault grounds recognised in MN include:

  • Adultery
  • Felony conviction and imprisonment for more than one year
  • Physical or mental cruelty or abuse
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Living separate and apart for at least 180 days before filing for divorce, if one spouse has not been actively involved in the marriage for at least two years.

Requirement and Waiting Period

Here is an overview of requirements for a MN divorce:

  1. Residency requirement: At least one of the spouses must have lived in Minnesota for at least 180 days before filing for divorce.
  2. Waiting period: There is a minimum waiting period of 30 days after the Summons and Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is served to the respondent before the divorce can be finalized.
  3. Financial disclosures: Both parties must exchange financial information, including income, expenses, debts, and assets, within 45 days of the start of the divorce proceedings.
  4. Parenting class: If there are minor children involved in the divorce, both parties may be required to attend a parenting class before the divorce can be finalized.

How an MN Judge Will Divide Marital Property

In Minnesota state, judges are required to divide marital property in a manner that is “just and equitable” under the circumstances. This means that the division of marital property must be fair, but not necessarily equal. Here is a brief overview of how judges decide marital property division in Minnesota:

  1. Identifying marital property: Marital property includes any property or assets acquired during the marriage, regardless of whose name is on the title or deed.
  2. Determining value: The court must determine the value of the marital property, which may involve appraisals or other methods of valuation.
  3. Considering factors: The court will consider a number of factors in deciding how to divide the marital property, including:
  • The length of the marriage
  • The age, health, and earning capacity of each spouse
  • Each spouse’s contribution to the acquisition of the marital property, including homemaking and childcare
  • The needs of each spouse and any children involved
  • Any other relevant factors
  1. Dividing property: Once the court has considered all relevant factors, it will divide the marital property in a manner that is just and equitable under the circumstances. This may involve dividing assets equally, or it may involve allocating more assets to one spouse based on the factors considered.

Basics of Minnesota Divorce

While we have discussed major points about MN divorce, there are still some other basics that you need to know when it comes to divorce in Minnesota. Here are some of them:

Child Custody in Minnesota

In Minnesota state, child custody is determined based on the best interests of the child. This means that the court will consider a variety of factors in deciding which parent should have custody of the child, or whether custody should be shared. Here is a brief overview of child custody after a divorce in Minnesota:

  1. Types of custody: There are two types of custody in Minnesota: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the right to make major decisions about the child’s upbringing, such as education, religion, and healthcare. Physical custody refers to where the child will live.
  2. Best interests of the child: In making a custody determination, the court will consider the best interests of the child, including:
  • The child’s relationship with each parent
  • The child’s wishes, if they are mature enough to express a preference
  • The mental and physical health of the child and each parent
  • The ability of each parent to provide for the child’s needs
  • Any history of domestic abuse or violence
  1. Custody agreements: If the parties are able to reach a custody agreement, the court will generally approve it as long as it is in the best interests of the child.
  2. Court orders: If the parties are unable to reach a custody agreement, the court will make a custody determination based on the best interests of the child.

Divorce in MN Without Spouse Signature

In MN, if one spouse wants a divorce and the other spouse does not want to sign the divorce papers, the process can still move forward. The spouse seeking the divorce can file a Summons with Notice or a Summons and Verified Complaint with the court, which the other spouse will be served with.

If the other spouse fails to respond to the court within a certain period of time, the MN court may enter a default judgment in favor of the spouse seeking the divorce. However, if the other spouse contests the divorce, the court may require a trial to determine the grounds for divorce and any related issues such as property division and child custody.

MN Child Support Guidelines

In Minnesota, child support is determined using state guidelines that consider both parents’ income, number of children, and parenting time. The Minnesota Department of Human Services provides a calculator to determine child support, which can be adjusted for certain expenses.

Enforcement measures may be taken if a parent fails to pay child support. It is recommended that individuals seeking a divorce in Minnesota consult with an attorney or a legal aid organization to ensure that their interests are protected throughout the child support process.

Divorce Records in MN

In Minnesota state, divorce records are maintained by the county where the divorce was granted. These records are considered public information and can be accessed by anyone who requests them.

Divorce records typically include information such as the names of the parties involved, the date and location of the divorce, and any relevant court orders or agreements related to the divorce, such as child custody and support arrangements or property division.

Individuals may request copies of divorce records by contacting the county courthouse where the divorce was granted, either in person or online. There may be a fee associated with obtaining copies of divorce records, and individuals may be required to provide identification or other documentation to verify their eligibility to access the records.

How to Hire a Divorce Attorney in MN

Hiring a divorce lawyer in Minnesota can be a crucial decision for individuals going through a divorce. A divorce lawyer can provide legal advice and representation throughout the divorce process, ensuring that the individual’s rights and interests are protected.

When hiring a divorce lawyer in MN, you need to consider their experience, qualifications, and reputation. It is recommended to choose a lawyer who specializes in family law and has experience handling divorce cases similar to your own.

The cost of hiring a divorce lawyer in Minnesota can vary depending on the lawyer’s experience and the complexity of the case. Some lawyers charge a flat fee for their services, while others charge an hourly rate. It is important to discuss the lawyer’s fees and payment options upfront to avoid any surprises later on.


Divorce in MN; Who Gets What?

In Minnesota, the property is divided fairly but not necessarily equally between spouses during a divorce based on the principle of equitable distribution. Marital property acquired during the marriage is subject to division, while some assets such as those acquired before the marriage or through inheritance or gifts may be exempt. The court will make a determination if the parties cannot agree on the division of property.

What is a Wife Entitled to in a Divorce in MN?

In a divorce in Minnesota, a wife is entitled to a fair distribution of marital property acquired during the marriage and may also receive spousal support if she demonstrates financial need and if the court determines the other spouse has the ability to pay.

Divorce in MN with Child; How does it Work?

In a Minnesota divorce with a child, the court considers the best interests of the child when making decisions about custody and support. Joint or sole custody may be awarded, and child support is determined based on a formula that considers each parent’s income and the child’s needs. A divorce lawyer can provide guidance and help ensure a fair outcome for the child.

How Long does it take to get a Divorce in MN?

The time it takes to get a divorce in Minnesota varies depending on whether it is contested or uncontested. An uncontested divorce can be finalized in several months, while a contested divorce can take years. There is a mandatory waiting period of at least six months. It’s important to work with a divorce lawyer to ensure your rights are protected throughout the process.


Minnesota divorce laws and guidelines are intricate and have a wide range of matters to be addressed. It is vital to have a good understanding of these laws in order to make informed decisions and ensure a fair outcome. By understanding these MN divorce laws, individuals can better prepare themselves for the process and take the necessary steps to protect their rights and interests.

Minnesota Resource

- Minnesota Child Adoption Guidelines
- Minnesota Child Custody and Visitation Guidelines
- Minnesota Child Support Guidelines
- Minnesota Divorce Guidelines
- Minnesota Marital Property Guidelines
- Minnesota Spousal Support Guidelines
- How to Check Minnesota Child Support Payment History
- Minnesota Child Support Calculator
- Minnesota Grants and Assistance for Single Mothers

Deborah Kelly

Deborah Kelly

As a proud single mom who has seen it all, I encourage others by sharing my experiences & curating content on divorce, adoption, child & spousal support. My passion also includes spending quality time with my kids and giving back to my community.

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