Minnesota Divorce Laws

The divorce laws in the state of Minnesota require residency be met before filing for dissolution of marriage.  Jurisdictional rights must be verified or the case will be dismiss or not accepted at all.

Who Can File for Divorce and On What Grounds

  • Dissolution of marriage may be filed in the state of Minnesota if one of the parties to the divorce has maintained residency there for at least 180 days (6 months).
  • Grounds for divorce must be declared on the petition.  Legal grounds for divorce in Minnesota include:
    • Irretrievable breakdown of marriage relationship, defined as maintaining separate residences for at least 180 days prior to filing for dissolution of marriage.
    • A serious marital discord, marked as permanently and unfavorably affecting the attitudes of one or both spouses towards the marriage.

Division of Property

Property distribution in the state of Minnesota is decided in an equitable fashion.  It is an equitable distribution state, meaning not equal but fair.  Parties are encouraged to come to agreement on the division of their assets and debts.  If the courts are bound to intervene then all relevant factors shall be considered including, but not limited to:  employability, vocational skills, and length of marriage, age, health occupation of each spouse, opportunity for future income and acquisition of assets.  They will also consider the contribution of each spouse to the marriage including that of a homemaker.

Child custody

Child custody is decided on in the manner least emotionally traumatic to the children.  The courts make an effort to make decisions in the best interests of the children if they are required to intervene in custody matters.  The parties to the divorce are encouraged to come to agreement regarding living arrangements of the children.  If an agreement cannot be arrived at, the courts decision will depend on several factors including: (1) the caregiver the child is most accustomed to, (2) the preference of the child, depending on the child’s age, (3) the wishes of the parents, (4) interaction of the child with other persons who may impact the child’s best interest, such as parents, siblings, other family members.

Mediation may be ordered if custody issues exist in the dissolution of marriage.  Mediation is ordered to reduce the acrimony between the parties and establish custodial rights and visitation in the best interests of the child.


Child support may be decided based on the needs of the parties, the best interest of the children and the financial abilities of both spouses.  Minnesota uses the Percentage of Income formula to calculate support.  This formula calculates the obligation based on the income percentage of the non-custodial parent.  Support is obligated depending on the custodianship of the children.  Either or both parents may be found to owe a duty of support to a child regardless of marital misconduct.

Other factors may be consider such as  (1) the needs, financial, physical and emotional of the child to be supported (2) the parents debts and financial obligations (3) the standard of living that the child has been accustomed to during the marriage (4) all income and resources of the parents, including actual and personal property.

Spousal support is not standard in all divorce cases.  Temporary or permanent support from one spouse to support the other is determined by agreement of parties or by decision of the court.  Maintenance orders are defined by both amounts and periods of time, whether temporary or permanent.  Support is determined regardless of marital misconduct and after considering any contributing factors such as, (1) financial resources of party seeking support. (2) ability of the spouse seeking support to get training and find employment appropriate to being able to support themselves.  (3) Age, emotional and physical condition of the spouse seeking support.  (4) Ability of the spouse expected to provide support to meet the needs of the spouse as well as their own.  Other factors deemed relevant by the court will be considered as appropriate.