To file for a divorce in Minnesota, you or your spouse must live in Minnesota for 180 days (6 months) before you file. A divorce is filed in the county where one or both spouses live.
A divorce proceeding begins when one spouse (called the Petitioner) serves the other spouse (called the Respondent) with a Summons and Petition.
The Summons and Petition sets forth the petitioner’s legal positions on the issues in the divorce (property, maintenance, custody, child support, etc.). The Summons and Petition must be personally served upon the other spouse (Respondent).
The Respondent then has 30 days to prepare and serve an answer. The Answer admits or denies the allegations (statements) in the Petition. If the respondent serves an Answer, s/he generally also serves a counter-petition which states what the Respondent’s legal position is on the issues in the divorce.
The time for the Respondent to answer can be extended if it looks like the parties will come to an agreement and settle the issues.
The divorce can be concluded in a few different ways, including:
- The parties can resolve all issues between themselves and enter into a “stipulation” (also called a martial termination agreement) which sets forth their agreement. The stipulation is reviewed by the judge and once it is signed, the parties are divorced.
- The parties can use a mediator, engage in a Social Early Neutral Evaluation (SENE), and/or attend a Financial Early Neutral Evaluation (FENE) to help settle the issues in their case and enter into a stipulation.
- After the parties and their attorneys gather information through a process called discovery (where each party requests information from the other on the issues they do not agree upon) and then try to come to an agreement.
- If the parties do not agree, they can go before the judge for a trial and present all evidence and witnesses supporting their opinion. After trial, the judge has 90 days to make a final decision.