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Divorce Process in Minnesota

Divorce Process in Minnesota


Guide to the Divorce Process in Minnesota


While most people think of divorce as being messy and expensive every time, the state of Minnesota has several options to make sure that divorce is affordable and obtainable for residents.  In some cases, the divorce process in Minnesota may not even require you to make a single appearance in court.  This guide will assist you in understanding the divorce process in Minnesota, including who is eligible for Minnesota's “summary dissolution” that can help you dissolve your marriage very quickly and without court appearances.


Summary Dissolution of Marriage


If you have no minor children (and the wife in your marriage is not pregnant), and neither owns any real estate, and have been married less than 8 years, you may qualify for a summary dissolution.  This is a simplified divorce process in Minnesota that requires both spouses to agree about the division of all your marital property and debts.  This procedure can be completed in about two or three months, and the paperwork is designed to be filled out without the assistance of lawyers.


Contested Divorce


If you have children, own real estate, or have been married longer than 8 years, you will be required to appear in court and you will begin the process of a contested divorce.  This begins when one spouse files a petition for dissolution of marriage in your county courthouse.  The other spouse will be served with a copy of the divorce petition, and will be given a chance to answer the petition.


The contested divorce process in Minnesota is a full civil trial, with all the expense that can entail.  If you hire divorce lawyers and take your case all the way to trial, it can be tens of thousands of dollars to divorce.  Generally, cases that cost this much are highly-litigated cases between people with extensive property to divide.


Divorce Settlements


Even in a contested divorce, if you and your spouse could agree on how to divide your property, you can enter into a divorce settlement.  While the terms of the settlement will need to be approved by the judge in your case, this is a good alternative to the full trial divorce process in Minnesota.


If you have difficulty negotiating, mediation or arbitration may be able to help you work out your difficulties.  In both mediation and arbitration, a neutral third party will help you get past difficulties in your negotiations and work out a solution that will be equitable and agreeable for all parties.  In arbitration, the decision of the arbitrator is binding, while mediators can only make recommendations and help you come to an agreement on your own.


Divorce by Default


If you do not know where your spouse is, or if your spouse has no intention of signing any divorce papers, you can still obtain a divorce.  The divorce process in Minnesota when this occurs is called “divorce by default.”  You start it by filing a petition, and if it is not answered after being served to your spouse, the judge will grant you the terms of the divorce you requested in the petition.  If your spouse cannot be found, you will require to publish a notice in the newspaper for several weeks to find them before being granted the divorce.