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Minnesota Divorce Process

Divorce can be both a painful and expensive process. Not only are you beginning the difficult process of changing your family structure, but you are also dividing assets and having to figure out important issues surrounding children, alimony, and more. Sometimes divorce is inevitable, and you’ll want to be prepared and fully understand the divorce process in Minnesota before you file. Keep in mind, divorce can follow one of several paths: traditional, contested, or uncontested, either as a “summary dissolution” or “dissolution by joint petition.”

Divorce Basics

First, let’s talk about Minnesota divorce basics. You or your soon-to-be ex spouse must have been a resident of Minnesota for at least 180 days before the divorce. There are limited exceptions to this rule, but you should speak with a family law attorney before proceeding if neither of you have lived in Minnesota for the required time period. Second, you’ll need to decide which type of divorce for which you are eligible:

Uncontested Divorce (Summary Dissolution)

Here, both parties agree on all key terms of the breakup, including child custody and support, health insurance, property division, and more. If you meet all of the criteria listed in the box below, you will simply file the paperwork and wait for the judge to sign the papers – all without ever going to court.

Uncontested Divorce (Dissolution by Joint Petition)

Here, both parties agree to all key terms, but you have children, marital assets, or otherwise don’t qualify for summary dissolution. In this case, you’ll agree to all terms and file a joint petition to the court.

Traditional Divorce: (Contested)

Here, you are either ineligible for summary dissolution due to the amount of marital assets or you don’t agree on key issues such as property, debt, support, and custodial disputes. You will prepare your paperwork, file it in the appropriate Minnesota courthouse, serve your spouse with the paperwork, file financial disclosures, and get a court date.

Minnesota Divorce Process Overview

The basics of the divorce process in Minnesota, including information about summary dissolution and dissolution by joint petition, are listed in the table below.


Minnesota Code § 518 et.seq.

Summary Dissolution Eligibility Highlights

  • No children and no pregnancy
  • You have been married eight years or less
  • You don’t own joint property
  • Marital assets are $25,000 or less
  • Neither person has been the victim of domestic violence
  • Neither person has debt in excess of $8,000 unless an automobile loan
  • Each spouse must agree to keep their individual retirement plans
  • Neither spouse has $25,000 or more in separate property.

Grounds for Divorce

Irretrievable breakdown (Only recognized ground)



Filing Fee for Divorce

Yes, fees can be waived in limited circumstances

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Minnesota Legal Separation Laws: Related Resources

Learn About the Minnesota Divorce Process From a Legal Professional

Deciding to end your marriage is never an easy decision. Going through the divorce process in Minnesota isn’t any easier. But you can make it more manageable by understanding the laws and your legal obligations. The best way to do this is to have an experienced Minnesota divorce attorney assist you in the process. 

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

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