Minnesota Divorce Law

Divorce – State Law Summary – Minnesota

Notes: This summary is not intended to be an all-inclusive summary of the laws of divorce in the State of Maryland, but does contain basic and other procedures.


Minnesota law permits dissolution of marriages based upon the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. A finding of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is a determination that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation. The parties must have either lived separate and apart for more than one hundred eighty (180) days or there must exist serious marital discord that adversely affects one or both of the parties toward the marriage. MSA 518.06

Residency requirements
Minnesota law requires that at least one of the spouses must be a resident of the state for a minimum of one hundred eighty (180) days immediately prior to the filing of the petition for divorce.  MSA 518.07

The petition for divorce may be filed in the county in which either party resides.  MSA 518.09

Legal separation
Minnesota law permits a judgment of legal separation to be granted if the same requirements are met as for a dissolution of marriage and the court finds that one or both of the parties need a legal separation. MSA 518.07

The courts may award alimony to either spouse only upon a finding that the spouse seeking the alimony lacks sufficient property to provide for his/her reasonable needs considering the standard of living attained during the marriage; is unable to adequately support himself/herself, considering the standard of living attained during the marriage, through appropriate employment; or, is a custodian of a child whose condition is such that the custodian should not be required to seek employment.

Factors the court considers in determining the amount and term of alimony include:

1. The financial resources of the spouse seeking alimony
2. The time necessary for the spouse seeking support to acquire sufficient education or training
3. The comparative earning capacity of each spouse
4. The standard of living established during the marriage
5. The obligations and assets of the marriage, both separate and marital
6. The duration of the marriage
7. The age, physical and mental condition of the spouse seeking support
8. The ability of the supporting spouse to meet both his needs and the needs of the spouse seeking support
9. The conduct of the parties during the marriage
10. And any other relevant factors.

The award of alimony terminates upon the remarriage of the recipient spouse or that spouse’s death.

Distribution of property
Minnesota is an equitable distribution state. This means that the court will divide the marital property between the parties as it deems equitable and just, after setting aside to each spouse the separate property of each. Factors the court considers in dividing the property between the parties include:

1. The economic circumstances of the parties at the time of the division of property
2. The contribution of each spouse to the marital estate
3. The value of the non-marital property set apart to each spouse
4. The conduct of the parties during the marriage, and
5. Custodial arrangements for minor children.  MSA 518.58

Child custody
Minnesota courts will decide the issue of custody based upon the best interests of the child. A partial list of factors the court will consider in determining the best interests of the child include: The wishes of the parents, the need of the child for a frequent and meaningful relationship with both parents, the interaction and interrelationship of the child with both the parents and any siblings, and the wishes of the child. The court may interview the child in chambers to ascertain the child’s preferences.

In addition to the above, if joint physical or legal custody is sought, the court will also consider the ability of the parents to cooperate in the rearing of the child, the methods for resolving disputes regarding the child, whether it would be detrimental to the child if one parent were to have sole authority over the child’s upbringing, and whether there has been instances of domestic abuse between the parents.

No preference will be given to either parent in determining custody based upon the parent’s age, sex or financial status, nor because of the age or sex of the child.

Each party shall have equal access to all medical, dental, school, religious and other important records of the child. Each party shall keep the other informed as to the name and address of the school the child is attending and has the right to be informed of the child’s progress and attend school and parent-teacher conferences.  MSA 518.17

Child support
In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or legal separation, the court may order either or both parties to pay a reasonable amount necessary for the support of a child of the marriage. Some of the factors the court will consider in determining the amount of child support include: the financial needs and resources of the child, the financial resources and needs of the parents, the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not terminated, and the child’s physical and legal custody arrangements.

The Minnesota legislature has established child support guidelines which establish the presumptive correct amount of child support. Deviation from the guidelines require a specific finding by the court that application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate and such findings must be included in the judgment. A modification of a child support order may only be made upon a showing to the court of a change in circumstances that would result in a change of support from the existing amount by twenty percent (20%) or more and at least a $50.00.  MSA 518.551

Name change
Upon request, either spouse may change his or her name as long as the reason for the name change is not for fraudulent or misleading purposes. MSA 518.27

Inside Minnesota Divorce Law