Getting a Divorce in Minnesota? Divorce Law Cheat Sheet for the State of Minnesota

1. What are the residency requirements for filing for divorce in Minnesota?

You or your spouse must have lived in the state, been a legal resident of the state or been stationed in the state as a member of the armed services for at least 180 days before filing. You also must file in the county where you or your spouse lives, is a legal resident or is stationed.

2. Does Minnesota have a waiting period?

No, as long as you have fulfilled the residency requirement, there is no waiting period.

3. Does the state have grounds for divorce?

Just one: In Minnesota, you must file on the ground that your marriage is irretrievably broken, meaning there is no hope of reconciliation.

4. How does Minnesota determine the division of property?

You and your spouse are encouraged to come up with a settlement on your own and present it to the court. If you can’t agree, the court will divide your property for you.

The court will look at your marital property, which in Minnesota means anything you or your spouse acquired while you were married (regardless of whose name is on the title), including vested public or private pension plan benefits. Household goods and furniture may be awarded to either of you regardless of whether you acquired it before or during your marriage.

Your non-marital property remains separate. In Minnesota, non-marital property includes:

  • Property that one of you received as a gift or inheritance.
  • Property that you acquired before you were married.
  • Property that you received in exchange for property that you acquired as a gift or inheritance or acquired before you were married, as well as any increase in value of that property.
  • Property that you acquire after divorce or separation proceedings begin.
  • Property excluded by a prenuptial agreement, if there is one.

The court will divide your property in the way it finds most equitable, or fair. To determine what that is, it will take into account:

  • How long you were married.
  • Whether you or your spouse was married previously.
  • You and your spouse’s ages and health.
  • You and your spouse’s occupations and income.
  • You and your spouse’s skills and employability.
  • You and your spouse’s assets, debts and needs.
  • You and your spouse’s opportunities to earn future assets and income.
  • You and your spouse’s contributions toward the acquisition, appreciation or depreciation of your marital property, including as a homemaker.

If the court evaluates these factors and finds the standard division of property would be an extreme hardship for one of you, it may award you up to half of the property that would otherwise be excluded from the division of property.

5. Does Minnesota require mediation before a divorce is granted?

Mediation is not a requirement for a divorce in Minnesota, but the court may order it if you and your spouse disagree on custody or parenting time.

6. How does the state determine child custody?

Legal custody and physical custody are two different things. Legal custody outlines how involved each parent is in the major decisions of a child’s life — ”where a child goes to school, what faith he or she is raised in and other biggies. Physical custody addresses where a child will live and with whom. Visitation is then negotiated based your physical custody arrangement.

You and your spouse may create your own parenting plan and submit it to the court, where it will be evaluated to determine whether it is in the best interest of your child. If you create a parenting plan, it must include these details:

  • A schedule of the time you and your spouse each will spend with your child.
  • A designation of decision-making responsibilities regarding your child.
  • A method of dispute resolution.

Your parenting plan may include other issues that you and your spouse agree to regarding your child.

If you and your spouse agree to create a parenting plan, but you can’t settle on all of the terms, the court may create a parenting plan for you, or it may require each of you to submit separate parenting plans. A parenting plan is not permitted if you or your spouse has committed domestic abuse (this includes physical injury, threats of physical harm or criminal sexual abuse); physical, sexual or emotional abuse of a child; or abandonment, refusing to fulfill parenting responsibilities.

The court will base all decisions on what is in the best interest of your child. In determining what that is, the court will consider:

  • You and your spouse’s wishes.
  • Your child’s wishes, if the court decides he or she is old enough to have an opinion.
  • Who has been your child’s primary caretaker.
  • Your child’s relationship with you and with your spouse.
  • Your child’s relationship with his or her siblings and other people who are significant in his or her life.
  • Your child’s adjustment to his or her home, school and community.
  • How long your child has lived in a stable environment and whether it would be best to continue that situation.
  • The stability of the family structure in your child’s current or proposed home.
  • The mental and physical health of everyone involved (a parent’s disability will not influence custody unless it would affect your child’s best interest).
  • You and your spouse’s ability to show your child love, affection and guidance; to continue your child’s education; and to raise your child in his or her culture and religion.
  • Your child’s cultural background.
  • The effects on your child of any domestic abuse.
  • You and your spouse’s abilities to encourage frequent contact between your child and the other parent.

The court assumes that if you or your spouse requests joint legal custody, it would be in the best interest of your child (unless there is evidence of domestic abuse). If you and your spouse are requesting joint legal or physical custody or the court is considering it in your case, these factors also will be taken into account:

  • You and your spouse’s ability to cooperate.
  • The methods you and your spouse might use to solve disputes and your willingness to try them.
  • Whether it would be detrimental to your child if one parent were to have sole authority over his or her upbringing.
  • Whether there has been any domestic abuse between you and your spouse.

If you and your spouse cannot agree on custody or parenting time for your child, the court may order you each to attend a parent education program within 30 days of filing. Some districts automatically require these courses. In Minnesota, the court also may order visitation rights for your child’s grandparents.

7. How does the state calculate child support?

Minnesota follows a set of state guidelines in calculating child support. You and your spouse’s gross incomes are combined, and then the court determines what percentage each of you is contributing to the total. You each will be responsible for this same percentage of the basic child support amount listed on the state’s chart, which is broken down by income and by number of children. Work-related child care costs and health insurance costs are added, and adjustments are made for any unusual parenting time arrangements. Unreimbursed and uninsured medical expenses are not included.

The final child support order separately designates the amount owed for basic support, child care support and medical support. The amount may be adjusted if you or your spouse is responsible for supporting other children in your household.

To be sure that the child support set by the guidelines is fair and in the best interest of your child; to be sure that child support is paid promptly; and to be sure that you, your spouse and your child do not live in poverty, the court will take into account these factors:

  • You and your spouse’s earnings, income, circumstances and resources, including real and personal property (but excluding income from extra work you or your spouse takes on).
  • Any extraordinary financial needs and resources, physical and emotional conditions, and educational needs of your child.
  • The standard of living that your child would enjoy if you and your spouse currently were living together (but recognizing that you now have separate households).
  • Whether your child lives in a foreign country for more than a year that has a substantially higher or lower cost of living than this country.
  • Which of you receives the tax exemption for your child and the financial benefit it offers.
  • Whether total child support payments ordered are greater than the state limits.

The court may also take into consideration you or your spouse’s debts, but only if the court determines that the debt was necessary to support you or your spouse and your child or necessary to generate income. If the debt was incurred to generate income, the court may consider only the amount of debt that is essential to continue generating income.

Finally, you and your spouse may agree to set aside a sum of money above and beyond court-ordered support as a trust fund for your child’s college education.

8. How does the state determine and calculate alimony?

Alimony, also known as maintenance, is not a standard part of a divorce proceeding, but you or your spouse may request it. If you do, the court will look at whether:

  • You have sufficient property, including marital property, to meet your needs (taking into account your standard of living during your marriage), especially for training or education.
  • You are unable to support yourself with a job, after considering the standard of living established during your marriage and all relevant circumstances.
  • Whether you are caring for a child whose condition or circumstances make it appropriate that you are not required to work outside the home Marital misconduct is not a factor in deciding whether to award alimony.

To determine how much alimony to award and for how long, the court will look at:

  • Your financial resources, including marital property, and your ability to be self-sufficient, as well as whether child support includes a sum for you as custodian.
  • How long it would take you to get the education or training needed to find a job and how likely it would be, given your age and skills, for you to complete that training or education and be partially or completely self-supporting.
  • Your standard of living while you were married.
  • How long you were married and, if you were a homemaker, whether you were out of the job market long enough that your education, skills or experience is outdated, permanently decreasing your earning ability.
  • Your loss of income, seniority, retirement benefits and other employment opportunities.
  • Your age and your physical and emotional condition.
  • The ability of your spouse to meet his or her own needs while meeting yours.
  • You and your spouse’s contributions to the acquisition, preservation, depreciation or appreciation in the amount or value of your marital property, as well as any contribution you made as a homemaker to help your spouse’s employment or business.

9. Is there a waiting period before remarriage in Minnesota?

No, you are free to remarry after the court delivers the final judgment ending your marriage.


You’ll find the Minnesota state statutes online here.

There is an interactive version of the child support worksheet available on the Department of Human Services site here.

Please note: Local and state laws change constantly, therefore this information is for educational purposes only. We do our best to keep state-specific information up-to-date, but please contact us to discuss your unique situation.