Guide to Uncontested Divorce in Minnesota
By Elizabeth Rayne, J.D.
As compared with a contested divorce, filing an uncontested divorce may save Minnesota residents both time and money. To file an uncontested divorce, the couple must agree that they want to dissolve the marriage and agree on the terms of the divorce. Further, a summary dissolution is an even faster process, but is only available to couples that meet the state's criteria.
Uncontested Divorce Overview
Minnesota courts allow couples to file for an uncontested divorce when both spouses agree to the divorce as well as the terms of the divorce. Both spouses must sign an agreement that establishes the terms of the divorce, including how property will be divided between the spouses, awards of spousal maintenance and, if applicable, child custody and support.
Minnesota is a pure no-fault state, meaning that couples do not place blame on either spouse in getting a divorce. Instead, the only grounds which couples must provide to get a divorce is that the marital relationship has irretrievably broken down. In other words, the couple must demonstrate that they do not want to continue with the marriage and it is not likely that they will reconcile their differences.
To initiate a divorce in Minnesota, you must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. Either you or your spouse must have lived within the state for at least 180 days prior to filing and may file the petition in the county where either of you live. You must also serve the petition and summons on your spouse. The summons explains the rights and responsibilities of the spouses and informs your spouse that he must respond to the petition within 30 days. In order to serve the paperwork, you must have it delivered by the sheriff's office or an adult other than yourself. After the paperwork is filed and served, an uncontested divorce can proceed relatively quickly and the divorce may be finalized in a matter of months.
In certain cases, couples in Minnesota may file for a summary dissolution, which allows the couple to divorce 30 days after the paperwork is filed. In order to qualify for summary dissolution, the couple must not have any children together and the wife must not be pregnant. Additionally, the couple's marriage must have lasted for less than eight years and neither spouse should have a lot of assets or debts. If the couple has real estate, debt more than $8,000 or assets more than $25,000, the couple will not qualify. Further, summary dissolution is not available in cases of domestic violence. In order to obtain a summary dissolution, you must file a Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution of a Marriage with the court.
Elizabeth Rayne earned her J.D. from Penn State University and has been practicing law since 2009, advising clients on issues ranging from employment law to nonprofit management. For two years, she served as a contributing editor for the "Vermont Environmental Monitor."