Understanding Divorce Law in Minnesota in 2016

Granted, going through a divorce is a difficult time for all parties involved, yet for some the process is more difficult than others. Mostly this depends on the two parties involved in the divorce, whether they’re in agreement or not around both the financial and custodial issues. Even when the two parties are in agreement, the divorce process can be difficult to navigate. Let’s examine this further, in order to give you a periphery understanding of divorce law in Minnesota in 2016.

Minnesota Divorce

According to the Minnesota Judicial Branch’s website, “Getting divorced is a lot more complicated than getting married, and it can take several months before your divorce is final.”

Divorce under Minnesota law is called a “Dissolution of Marriage.” In Minnesota at least one of the spouses must be living in Minnesota for at least 180 days before starting the case.

Minnesota law also allows same-sex couples to get married and divorced in the state; spouses can file for divorce if they got married in the state on or after August 1, 2013.

Minnesota divorce law also requires “…parents who have children together and who are getting divorced to attend a certified divorce education program if they do not agree on custody or parenting time (visitation). The judge may also order that children attend the class.”

 The Divorce Process

The first step in the divorce process is to file divorce forms at the District Court level, in a county where at least one of the spouses lives. The other spouse is served with these divorce papers, and if it’s an uncontested divorce then they’ll sign the papers in agreement with the terms. There are basically three types of divorces: contested, uncontested, and collaborative.

A contested divorce is the most difficult, because the two parties can’t agree on the divorce terms. This could either be around the financial terms or the custody of children terms. This kind of divorce goes through stages until it reaches a trial setting, these are: preliminary case workup, discovery, settlement discussions, and finally the trial.

Most contested divorces are settled before the trial, outside of court, if an agreement can be made through an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process or an early neutral evaluation (ENE). There are two different types of ENE’s: Financial ENE (FENE) and Social ENE (SENE). These types of mediation, outside of court, are often used soon after a contested divorce is filed.

Obtaining Legal Counsel Through the Divorce Process

No matter what type of divorce is being processed in Minnesota, both parties will benefit from having a Minnesota divorce attorney to guide them through the process. There are different time limitations, forms, costs, and procedures throughout the process, which need to be fully understood by both parties before signing any documents.

If you’re going through a contested divorce, having an experienced Minnesota divorce attorney — advocating on your behalf and guiding you through the process — is vital for a successful outcome. Even if the divorce is uncontested, both parties should seek legal advice before signing and proceeding with the divorce process. There very well could be some detail overlooked, or some motion that could be filed, which would’ve made the process or outcome more favorable on your behalf.

For instance, a Motion for Temporary Relief could be filed during the divorce process, so a spouse can receive a temporary order for child custody, child support, spousal support, and certain property issues – while the case is pending in the court. Also, simply having an attorney present helps the settlement process proceed and have a favorable outcome.


While there are certain commonalities the divorce process has in every state, each state and district has its own specific laws as well. Considering divorce, in itself, is such an emotional, physical, and financial difficulty, both parties are well advised to seek at least a modicum of legal advice. In the case of a contested divorce, more in-depth legal counsel should definitely be sought. Doing so will ensure the outcome of the case is resolved as quickly and favorably as possible on your behalf.

Gilbert Alden PLLC is a law firm based in Burnsville, MN and serves the Twin Cities area; we specialize in family law and expertly understand divorce law in Minnesota. Mathew J. Gilbert was even named one of the Top 10 Family Law attorneys in Minnesota based on client satisfaction in 2015. Consider letting our experience and expertise work on your behalf during this difficult time. If interested in learning more please contact us for a free consultation.


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