Minnesota Divorce & Separation
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Separations and divorces are common across the United States, but each state has its own unique laws that govern these processes. If you are considering a separation or divorce in Minnesota, you may have questions about the laws in Minnesota. What is the legal difference between separation and divorce in Minnesota? Are there simplified proceedings available in the state? What is the law on Minnesota annulments? Find the answers to your Minnesota divorce questions here.
Minnesota Legal Separation:
In Minnesota, legal separations require the same legal procedure as divorces, with all issues relating to children, custody, financial support, and property division formally resolved before a judge. The difference between a legal separation and a divorce is that with separation, you remain officially married to your spouse, even after these issues have been adjudicated by the court. Should you decide to file for divorce later, the process may need to be completed again in its entirety, though the resolutions regarding material possessions arrived at during the separation proceedings may or may not be considered again during the divorce proceedings. The main reason to engage in a legal separation is if the two parties are certain they cannot be reconciled in the foreseeable future, but they want to preserve their legal marriage status for either tax purposes or religious reasons. Remember, this form of legal separation is different from the common use of the term 'separation,' in which a married couple simply decides to live apart from each other. This common form of separation is not an issue that will be decided in courts. In addition, mediators and other informal means of resolving issues brought up by the divorce are available in Minnesota.
Grounds for Divorce/Fault - No Fault:
Unlike legal separations, which do not require any grounds for court approval, divorces do require a no-fault filing, asserting the "irretrievable breakdown of the marriage relationship."
Residency/Where to File for Divorce:
One of the parties to divorce must have resided in Minnesota for at least 180 days prior to the first filing, which itself should occur in the county where either party lives.
Availability of Simplified or Special Divorce Procedures:
Though there are no separate categories of divorces, it is possible to avoid a final hearing in a divorce proceeding (and thus save a considerable amount of time and money) if there are no minor children involved, and the parties have entered into a written agreement resolving all the other issues of the marriage. Similarly, if one of the parties has not responded to the court for over 20 days after the answering period expires (and due service is proven), then a final hearing may also be deemed unnecessary.
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Divorce Mediation in Minnesota:
Mediation is an option that many divorcing couples choose when working out the specific terms of their settlement agreement. It's less expensive than hiring two lawyers, and perhaps more importantly in the long run, it can keep the parties from becoming adversaries. Many counties ask divorcing couples to make a good faith effort to resolve their differences via mediation, and work out an agreement before coming to court (see Availability of Simplified or Special Divorce Proceduresabove).
Annulment in Minnesota differs from divorce or legal separation proceedings in that the annulment declares the marriage to have been invalid, such that it never properly existed in the first place. Thus, divorce or legal separation is unnecessary. Annulments are granted under a very limited set of circumstances: failure of a party to give voluntary legal consent at the time of the marriage ceremony (because of force, fraud, a party being under the age of 18, suffering from mental illness, or being under the influence of drugs or other incapacitating substance), or the inability of a party to consummate the marriage with sexual intercourse. Note that these factors by themselves are sometimes not enough to justify annulment, especially if one party continued living with the other party after discovering the incapacity.
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