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Minnesota Court Records

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How to File For Divorce in Minnesota

In Minnesota, a divorce is referred to as a “marriage dissolution,” meaning the legal breaking-off of a married couple in a family court. The party that starts the divorce process is known as the “petitioner,” and the “respondent” is the person on the receiving end. The following are the necessary papers needed to begin a Minnesota divorce:

  • The divorce petition/summons
  • Financial affidavit (where applicable)
  • The dissolution certificate
  • The representation certificate (this applies to persons representing themselves).

Depending on the court rules in the locality, the petitioner might be required to send in more paperwork than the ones stated above. Interested persons are to check with their county’s clerk of courts to confirm the types of forms needed to start the divorce process. A respondent receiving the other party’s petition should prepare what is called an “answer & verification.” This is where the respondent states whatever part of the petition is unacceptable.

Couples are advised against signing oaths, affidavits, or statements until a notary is present. While completing the divorce forms, both parties should be thorough in replying to the questions. It is advisable to fill in such forms on the computer. However, if that is not available, the individual should print or write legibly.

Do I need a Reason for Divorce in Minnesota?

No, persons seeking a divorce in Minnesota do not need reasons. The state practices a no-fault divorce system, which implies that neither party needs to find grounds before filing for a divorce. The couple may secure a divorce based-off irreconcilable differences.

According to Section 518 of the Minnesota Divorce Code, a district or county court can grant a marriage dissolution if the state discovers that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.

The court may grant the “decree of legal separation” if it appears that one or both parties in the marriage need a separation.

However, Minnesota practices a system such as this does not mean that the court will grant an individual a divorce “on-demand.” Even if the couple has agreed to a divorce, they still have to convince the court that it is necessary.

In Minnesota, the petitioner only has to prove that the marriage is broken beyond repair, and the couple cannot get back together. This can be done by showing:

  • The judge that both parties have been living separately for 180 days (minimum)
  • That reconciliation is not achievable in the marriage
  • That there is a major discord in the union that negatively impacts both or either party’s attitude regarding the wedding.

What Constitutes Insufficient Grounds for Divorce in Minnesota?

Since Minnesota operates only a no-fault system, there are no grounds/reasons for marriage dissolution. However, to get divorced in the state, the following criteria must be met:

  • One of the couples has to reside in Minnesota for at least 180 days
  • At least one of the couple must serve in the country’s armed forces and have kept the Minnesota residency
  • The petitioner must file the action with the county or district court where either of the couples resides.

Why do I need a Divorce Lawyer?

Normally, an individual intending to file a divorce should possess sufficient information before starting the procedure. Nevertheless, a divorce lawyer’s services should also be employed to help navigate through the legal process and effectively file all paperwork. Thus, it is good for a person that intends to file for divorce to hire a credible and experienced attorney to handle the case.

How do I Get Started in a Divorce in Minnesota?

Papers such as petition/summons, dissolution certificate, certificate of representation, etc., are examples of the documents needed by a petitioner to start the process of divorce in Minnesota.

After completing and filing the documents with the court, the petitioner will need to make double copies. Eventually, one copy will be given to the respondent while the petitioner keeps the other documents. The original copy of all the files must go to the appropriate court. Interested parties should visit their local courthouses where they can file the documents. All petitioners should ensure that they file all the documents in the correct courthouse. Pursuant to section 518.09 of the Minnesota laws, all interested parties are to file for divorce only in the area where either or both couples reside. The petitioner will be required to pay a filing fee to file the documents. This is only avoidable when that person completes a fee waiver, otherwise known as an affidavit, to proceed in forma pauperis.

After the forms have been completed and filed with the courthouse in the appropriate county, the petitioner should duplicate each document to the other party. In the U.S legal system, service of process is important. It guarantees that every concerned party is duly informed of the situation and can appear and state their perspectives. Also, both parties in the divorce are required to complete and submit a financial disclosure statement. The statements contain each individual’s financial situation by documenting details such as debts, monthly expenses, assets, and income. Supporting records such as tax returns, pay stubs may also be needed. Judges use the financial disclosure statements to determine matters such as:

  • The appropriate child support amount
  • The right way to divide the marital debts and property
  • If one spouse deserves alimony

How to File for Divorce in Minnesota without a Lawyer

The Minnesota judicial branch website has a page dedicated to divorce topics where interested persons can obtain information on the state’s divorce resources and laws. Also, the website contains a rundown of self-help centers for all of the state’s district judiciary.

Individuals who chose to self-represent in a divorce case are expected to understand the court rules. All important divorce forms are to be completed correctly and filed with the court. It is advisable to arrive at the court 30 minutes before the start of the hearing.

The person should carry along all necessary files and also maintain copies of all the papers.

How Does Minnesota Divorce Mediation Work

Before bringing a divorce case to court, all Minnesota couples that do not have a history of spousal abuse are expected to go for some ADR (alternative dispute resolution). Mediation is one form of ADR that has a high success rate in the state. A neutral third party also referred to as the mediator, will sit down with the couple and attempt to resolve them. This helps as it helps to reduce costs compared to a court divorce substantially.

Pursuant to Rule 114.03, the Minnesota court administrator can offer information regarding available ADR processes and a list of mediators to interested persons.

How Long After Mediation is Divorce Final in Minnesota?

Normally, how long a mediation lasts depends on the complexity of the problems that resulted in the breakdown. Such topics include issues such as:

  • Child support
  • Child custody
  • Child visitation
  • Alimony
  • Division of property

Thus, the mediation process could last for weeks or even months. However, in cases where mediation fails, the divorcee may proceed to trial. Divorce trials can go on for several months.

Are Divorce Records Public in Minnesota?

Yes, after finalization, divorce records in Minnesota are available to the public. Pursuant to section 15.17, all government agencies in the state are required to grant the public access to their documents. However, divorce documents containing confidential information such as financial agreements, account numbers, and bank statements are withheld from the public domain. The court also has the power to redact descriptive information involving domestic violence victims. Also, Minnesota divorcees have the privilege to file a motion to seal divorce records in court.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How do I Get Minnesota Divorce Records?

Divorce records are obtainable through government entities and sources, although the documents’ availability cannot be guaranteed. Alternatively, specific third-party sites also offer Minnesota divorce documents. Interested parties can get divorce records from the county courthouse where the case was heard and divorce granted. Requesters have two options:

  • The requester can contact the appropriate county court clerk and request the records.
  • If the divorce was recently granted, the requester could visit any Minnesota courthouse to view and print the report. However, web-based access to court records varies from one county to another.
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