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DIY Divorce Guide

Minnesota No-Fault Divorce Overview

Complete divorce guide with state requirements and laws.
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Minnesota Online Divorce Basics This is a divorce reference guide to understanding no-fault divorce in Minnesota. Each state has its own requirements, laws, and documentation, so we decided to gather it all in one location to make it easy and quick for you to find the information you need before, during and after your divorce.
Divorce in Minnesota Made Easy
    • Time Frame: The fastest divorce can take as little as four to six weeks if there is complete agreement on the issues and the parties work together; the slowest, most-contentious divorces can drag on for years.
    • Where to File: County Court or District Court. "State of Minnesota, District Court, County of _________, ________ Judicial District."
    • State Statutes: Minnesota Statutes Annotated; Chapter 518.
    • Name of Action: Dissolution of Marriage.
    • Name of Parties: The filing spouse is the petitioner; the responding spouse, the respondent.
    • No-Fault or Fault and No-Fault Only: Minnesota is a no-fault only state.
    • Primary Documents Filed: Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.
    • Physical Separation Required: As little as 180 days.
    • Separation Time to File: As little as 180 days.
    • Legal Separation Permitted: A legal separation will be granted if the court finds the couple needs one.
    • Grounds: An irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, which means "living separate and apart for at least 180 days or serious marital discord adversely affecting the attitude of the husband, wife, or both towards the marriage."
    • Residency requirement: One must be a state resident for at least 180 days prior to filing.
    • Mediation Required: No, but any issues about custody or visitation (except sexual abuse of one of the parties or the children) may be mediated before, during or after a hearing if the parents are not in agreement. Mediation aims to reduce acrimony between the parents and builds agreement about the child's best interests. The mediator makes his or her best efforts to help resolve a custody or parenting time dispute but makes no court orders.
    • Counseling Required: In 2010, Minnesota began it's Couples on the Brink project, which offers voluntary short-term coaching to help the husband and wife decide whether they really want to divorce. If a couple decides to rebuild the marriage rather than divorce, the project fashions a reconciliation plan.
    • Parenting Classes Required: Yes. Parenting classes are mandatory for divorcing couples with children if they can not agree on custody out visitation. The parents of a minor child attend an eight-hour orientation and education program that meets the minimum standards promulgated by the Minnesota Supreme Court.
The mandatory class is designed to help everyone deal with the trauma of a broken family and help facilitate working together as single parents. Both parents must typically complete this requirement before a divorce will be finalized unless the court grants a waiver. The class is required according to Minnesota Statute § 518.157. All Minnesota courts that allow distance learning recognize the online parenting class certificates as long as the class is approved by the court. The district court website carries a list of approved parenting classes. Fees vary depending upon provider.
    • Filing Fee: The base fee is $340. (See MN Filing Fee Waiver Form)
    • Where to File for Child Support: A noncustodial parent who is behind in his or her support in an amount equal to three times his or her monthly payment may be punished. The deadbeat may lose his or her driver's license or have a lien placed against the equity in his or her car. Additional punishment may be contempt of court and jail time. Anyone affected by a child support order can get more information about the process by calling his or her county child support office or the automated Child Support Help Line at DHS, 651-431-4400, or 1-800-657-3954. Information on child support can be had by searching for "child support" on the DHS website.
    • Child Support Guidelines Model: Effective January 1, 2007, Minnesota courts calculate child support under the Income Shares model.
According to Minn. Stat. § 518A.34, the Child Support Guidelines use both parents' gross income, the number of children, and the cost of raising a child at various income levels. In Minnesota, child support typically covers basic support, payments for food, clothing and shelter; medical support, health and dental insurance and uninsured or unreimbursed medical and dental expenses, and child care support, and payments for child care (day care) costs when parents go to work or school. In calculating a basic child support obligation, court-ordered parenting time is considered. Beginning in August 2018, a new parenting expense adjustment law changes how the court adjusts the basic child support amount for parenting time expenses. According to Minn. Stat. § 518A.36, the court adjusts the basic support award based on the number of overnights with the child given to each parent in the court order. Many parents do agree to an amount that deviates from the state support guidelines. When doing so, the court must recognize the different amount as reasonable to support the child(ren).
    • Property Division: Equitable division using dual classification.
    • Appreciation of Separate Property: The appreciation remains separate property.
    • Attendance at Hearing: Yes, if the parties have children together, but if not, most likely no hearing is required.
    • Fault Considered in Property Division: No.
    • Waiting period after Divorce for Remarriage: None.
    • Ways to Serve Spouse: Service is either by personal service, service by mail or by publication.
    • Minnesota is one of eight jurisdictions that include separate property in the marital estate providing the court finds a special showing of need by the non-titled spouse.
    • Divorce Records: The Minnesota Office of Vital Records does not record marriages or divorces.
In the final stages of a Minnesota uncontested divorce, the filing spouse must complete and file a Certificate of Dissolution (Form DIV 103) with the county Clerk after the Judge signs the Decree of Dissolution. This form records the entry of a court order of divorce with the court and is the final step in restoring the names of either the Petitioner or the Respondent. In Minnesota, a Certificate of Dissolution may be signed by a Judge and used to prove a divorce took place (ideal for creditors). Before a divorce becomes final, the court either prepares the Certificate of Dissolution to be attached to the Decree of Dissolution or it becomes the responsibility of the filing spouse (or his or her attorney if not filing pro se). This form must be completed and filed. Any and all records of a divorce are retreived from the county in which the divorce was filed and became final.


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