Minnesota Divorce Basics

Learn the basics of a divorce, or dissolution of marriage, in Minnesota.

This article explains the basics about common issues in a divorce in Minnesota.

Grounds for Divorce

Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is the only ground for divorce in Minnesota. An irretrievable breakdown means you and your spouse have no intention of reconciling. This is considered a no-fault divorce.

Residency Requirement and Waiting Period

You must be a resident of Minnesota for at least six months before you can file a petition for divorce; you may file the petition in the county where either spouse lives.  If you do not have children, and you sign an agreement about the terms of the divorce, the judge may enter a final judgment 20 days after the petition was filed. If you do have children, the judge may enter a final judgment if both spouses are represented by attorneys and both agree to the terms of the divorce.

See, The Basics of Filing for Divorce in Minnesota, for detailed information on the divorce process.

Property Division

Minnesota is an equitable distribution state, meaning marital property is divided between spouses based on what is fair and equitable (the division doesn’t have to be equal, though). Marital property is any property acquired during marriage including real property (your home), possessions, and income earned during marriage. The court will consider several factors to determine how to divide property, including the length of the marriage, each party's age, health, occupation, income potential, and future needs, and each spouse's contributions to the marriage. Property that was acquired by either spouse before marriage or after separation is considered that spouse's separate property and is not subject to division by the court.

See, Minnesota Divorce: Dividing Property, for more information and details on the rules.

Alimony (Spousal Support)

One spouse may be required to pay temporary or permanent spousal support to the other spouse. The judge will review several factors to determine whether a spousal support award is appropriate, such as both spouses' financial resources and earning ability, the time needed for the receiving spouse to acquire employment training or education, and each spouse's contributions to the marriage. Additional factors may include the marital standard of living and the length of the marriage.  To modify a permanent spousal support award, the person requesting the modification must show that circumstances have changed so substantially that the current order is no longer appropriate.

Read our article on Alimony in Minnesota for information on how it's calculated and modified.

Child Support

Parents in Minnesota are obligated to financially support their child until the child graduates high school or turns 19. Child support is calculated based on state guidelines, and you can estimate how much support you may have to pay  here. In addition to the state guidelines, the court may also consider the child's accustomed standard of living, financial needs and resources, and medical and educational expenses, and may adjust the support amount accordingly.  To modify an order, the parent seeking a modification must show a substantial change in circumstances or demonstrate that the support order deviates from the established child support guidelines. The  Department of Human Services  is responsible for enforcing child support orders in Minnesota.

Child Custody

Minnesota courts encourage parents to share parenting responsibilities and judges make all custody orders based on the best interest of the child. This means that the court will consider the wishes of the parents, and child if the child is old enough to express a preference, as well as the child's relationship with each parent, the child's adjustment to home, school, and community, and each parent's ability to encourage contact between the child and the other parent. The court will also look at which parent is the primary caretaker and which parent will provide mental, physical, and emotional support to the child.    Once an order is in place, the court will not modify a child custody order unless the parents agree or there is a substantial change in circumstances of the child or parents.

See, Child Custody in Minnesota: The Best Interests of the Child, for detailed information.

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