How to File for Divorce in Minnesota

How to file divorce in Minnesota

A Guide to Filing for Divorce in Minnesota

Filing for divorce is an emotional process. Without guidance it’s easy to make mistakes, and often times those mistakes can be costly.

Here is some important basic information for you to be aware of as you go through the divorce process in Minnesota.

Gather important information

important information

You can set the tone for how your divorce will proceed from the outset if you approach the task of gathering information the right way. Doing so can save you time, money and stress in the long haul.

You’ll also give yourself the best possible chance at the most favorable outcome if your documents and information are in order. Starting early and being organized are keys to successfully completing this task.

We’ve simplified the process for you by creating a Divorce Information Checklist you can check out in our article The Ultimate Divorce Checklist: The Information You Need to Prepare for Divorce.

What kind of divorce is right for you?

Divorce Procedure to Use

Deciding on what divorce process to use (litigation, mediation, collaborative divorce, etc.) provides you with the framework to begin moving forward. That’s an important decision and not one that should be taken lightly.

It will drive how amicable or contentious your divorce will be and set the tone for your future co-parenting relationship if you have kids. With so much at stake, it’s imperative that you understand all of your options and how they will play upon your individual situation.

To learn more about your options and the pros and cons, be sure to check out our article on The Types of Divorce.

Fill out the paperwork

Necessary Forms to Prepare

Once you have a good idea of what kind of divorce you will go through, the next step is to get the appropriate forms you’ll need to submit to start the official divorce process.  If you are using a lawyer, he or she will walk you through what forms need to be completed.

While it may cost more if you use an attorney, you’ll save time and enjoy a certain peace of mind in knowing that the paperwork will be done right.

In most cases, the initial filing of a dissolution will require one party to complete a Summons, Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, and Confidential Information Form.  If children are involved, you will also need to complete a financial affidavit of child support as well.

Additional forms may be required depending on your individual circumstances.

Filing your divorce documents

How Do You File Your Forms for a Divorce

If you are working with an attorney, they will make sure all the forms are correct, but if you are not, then many county courthouses have staff who will review the forms for you to make sure that they are acceptable.

Once your forms have been reviewed and approved, you can officially file them with the court.  If you are initiating the action, you will be known as the Petitioner.  If you are the one receiving the forms, you will be known as the Respondent.

You will need to pay a fee when you file, unless you are able to get the fees waived.

The Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is filed with the clerk of the court in the jurisdiction where you live.  You will also need to pay a filing fee at the time you submit your documents.

Serving your spouse

After you file your papers for divorce, you must provide your spouse with a copy of the paperwork so that they have a chance to respond.

You can do this by using a private process service, the sheriff’s department or anyone who is at least 18 years old and is not an interested party in the divorce.  After the papers are served, an affidavit of service will need to be filed with the court to show this step has been completed.

If your spouse is cooperative, you can mail the documents yourself and provide an Acknowledgement of Service form, which must be signed by your spouse.  This document will need to be returned to the court.

Check with your local courthouse if your spouse is hard to locate, in the military, or in jail.

Frequently Asked Questions About Filing for Divorce in Minnesota

How much does it cost to file for a divorce in Minnesota?

cost to file for a divorce

The filing fee for a divorce petition is $375.  Depending on what county you live in or other circumstances related to your divorce, there may be other additional fees as well.

Can divorce fees be waived in Minnesota?

A court fee waiver is often called an “IFP” which stands for “In Forma Pauperis.”

You may qualify to file for a waiver if:

  • Your income is at or below 125% of the Federal poverty level
  • You receive public assistance; or
  • You can show that you do not have enough money to pay the filing fee.

Can I file for a divorce online in Minnesota?

divorce online

In Minnesota, the Judicial Branch maintains a web page that allows you to fill out all of your divorce forms online.  Forms are available as Fillable Smart Forms which will help expedite your divorce process.  Once the forms are complete, you can eFile your forms by following the instructions that accompany the forms.

What are the residency requirements for filing for a divorce in Minnesota?

To file for a divorce in Minnesota, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least 180 days prior to filing your case with the courts.

How long does it take to get a divorce in Minnesota?

How long does it take

The court may grant your divorce any time after the filing of the Summons and Petition. The length of the proceedings depends on the amount of litigation involved and what a court’s backlog of cases may be.  The more cooperative both sides are, the quicker an agreement can be reached.

Typically, it takes about 30 to 90 days in an uncontested proceeding for a divorce to be finalized.

Contested divorces will go considerably longer depending on the issues and the complexity of things that need to be resolved.

Read More: How Long Does Divorce Take?

Is it possible to file for divorce in Minnesota without using a lawyer?

file for divorce without a lawyer

Yes.  You can file for a divorce in Minnesota on your own and this option may work for you in an uncontested divorce where you and your spouse are able to reach agreement on all issues.

You can get legal help from the state by accessing a Self-Help Center staffed by court employees where you can find helpful information and services about your legal problem if you are not represented by an attorney.

Are there any special considerations for filing for divorce in Minnesota if one of the parties is pregnant?

divorce while I am pregnant

If a wife is pregnant at the time of divorce, a husband is presumed under Minnesota law to be the legal father of any child born during the marriage or within 280 days following a divorce.

If the wife is pregnant at the time of the divorce with another man’s child, the presumption can be outweighed by genetic testing or agreement of all parties.

However, if both men and the wife agree, the issue can be addressed through a Recognition of Parentage being signed by the biological father along with a Joinder by the husband at the same time, after the child is born.

Addressing pregnancy during divorce is more difficult because the court cannot make determinations about paternity until after the child is born.

Often in the court’s final divorce order, the pregnancy will be addressed by stating the parties will address the paternity issue in a hearing following the birth of the child.

How does divorce in Minnesota work if I am a member of the military?


Special laws that supersede state laws in many instances are in place for members of the military who go through a divorce in Minnesota.  The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act eases legal and financial burdens of military personnel and their families who face the added challenges of active duty.

Among other legal protections, this grants the service member the right to postpone civil court hearings when military duties materially affect the ability of the service member to prepare for or be present for civil litigation.

For military divorces, the grounds are the same as non-military divorces in Minnesota.  All that is required is to claim irreconcilable differences.

In addition, you need to make sure that the court you choose has jurisdiction. You must file for divorce in a state where the military spouse is domiciled, where the military spouse is a resident, or where you and your spouse agree.

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