Divorce in Minnesota: everything you need to know

1 min readLast updated March 22, 2024by Unbiased team

This guide will walk you through divorce in Minnesota and help you make informed decisions, from filing and records to costs and more.


  • Minnesota is a "no-fault" divorce state, and it recognizes both contested and uncontested divorces.

  • The average cost of a divorce in Minnesota ranges from $10,000 to $20,000.

  • In Minnesota, there is no waiting period or mandatory separation period necessary before filing for divorce.

  • A financial advisor can help you navigate your finances during a divorce and rebuild afterward.

What are the different types of divorce in Minnesota?

Minnesota is a "no-fault" divorce state, meaning you do not have to prove your spouse has committed any wrongdoing to receive a divorce.

Need help rebuilding your finances after divorce?

A financial advisor can guide you through your financial recovery both during and after your divorce.

The state also recognizes two types of divorce: contested and uncontested.

  • Contested divorce

A contested divorce is when the spouses disagree on one or more issues related to the divorce.

It usually requires a trial, where a judge will decide these issues based on the evidence and arguments presented by both parties.

A contested divorce is usually more expensive than an uncontested divorce.

  • Uncontested divorce

An uncontested divorce is when the spouses agree on all the issues related to the divorce and do not need a trial.

It can be faster, cheaper, and easier than a contested divorce as long as the spouses can cooperate and communicate effectively.

However, an uncontested divorce still requires the spouses to file the necessary paperwork, follow the court rules, and meet the legal requirements for divorce in Minnesota.

How much does a divorce cost in Minnesota?

According to some estimates, the average cost of a divorce in Minnesota ranges from $10,000 to $20,000, but it can be much higher or lower depending on the circumstances.

Some of the main costs involved in a divorce are:

  • Court fees: The court charges fees for filing and processing the divorce documents. The fees vary by county, but they are usually around $350 to $500.

  • Attorney fees: These are the fees that the attorneys charge for representing and advising the spouses during the divorce process. The attorney fees vary by attorney, but they are usually based on an hourly rate, which can range from $200 to $500 per hour.

  • Mediation fees: These are the fees that the mediator charges for facilitating the mediation sessions between the spouses. The mediation fees vary by the mediator, but they are usually based on an hourly rate, which can range from $150 to $300 per hour.

  • Other costs: These are the costs that the spouses may incur for different services or professionals involved in the divorce process, such as appraisers, accountants, therapists, counselors, parenting educators, or child custody evaluators. The other costs vary by service or professional, but they can add up to a significant amount depending on the spouses' needs and preferences.

How do you file for divorce in Minnesota?

To file for divorce in Minnesota, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You or your spouse must have lived in Minnesota for at least 180 days before filing for divorce.

  • You or your spouse must have a legal reason, or ground, for divorce. In Minnesota, the only ground for divorce is an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, which means that there is no reasonable possibility of reconciliation between the spouses.

When filing for divorce, there are multiple steps you need to follow, such as:

  • You or your spouse must file a Summons and Petition with the district court in the county where either of you lives.

  • The petitioner must serve the Summons and Petition on the respondent, either personally or by mail, within 30 days of filing. The respondent must file an Answer with the court within 30 days of being served, either agreeing or disagreeing with the statements in the Petition.

  • The spouses must exchange financial information, such as income, assets, debts, and expenses, and complete a Financial Affidavit. The Financial Affidavit is a form that summarizes the spouses’ financial situation and helps the court determine issues such as child support, spousal maintenance, and property division.

  • The spouses must try to reach an agreement on all the issues related to the divorce, either by themselves, with the help of their attorneys, or through a process called mediation. If the spouses reach an agreement, they must put it in writing and sign it. This document is called a Marital Termination Agreement or MTA.

  • If the spouses reach an agreement on all the issues, they can file a Joint Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the court, along with the MTA and other required forms. The court will review the documents and schedule a hearing, where they will be granted a divorce and be issued with a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage, which is the final document that ends the marriage and states the terms of the divorce.

  • If the spouses cannot reach an agreement on all the issues, they will have to go to a trial. In this trial, a judge will hear the evidence and arguments from both sides and make a decision on the disputed issues. The judge will then grant the divorce and issue a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage, which may or may not reflect the spouses’ wishes.

How do you split assets in a divorce in Minnesota?

Minnesota is an equitable distribution state, which means that the court will divide the marital property between the spouses fairly and reasonably, but not necessarily equally.

The court will only divide the marital property, which is the property that was acquired or earned during the marriage, regardless of whose name is on the title or the account.

The court will not divide non-marital property, which is property owned by either spouse before the marriage, received by either spouse as a gift or inheritance during the marriage, or excluded by a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

How does alimony work in Minnesota?

Alimony, also known as spousal maintenance, is the payment that one spouse makes to the other spouse to provide financial support after a divorce.

The court may award alimony to either spouse, regardless of gender, depending on the circumstances of the case.

What happens to children during a divorce in Minnesota?

The court will decide two main issues regarding the children: child custody and child support.

Child custody refers to the legal responsibilities and rights parents have regarding the care, control, and upbringing of their children. There are two main types:

  1. Legal custody: This grants the right to make significant decisions for the children, like those concerning education, healthcare, and religion. It can be joint, where both parents share decision-making authority, or sole, where one parent has sole decision-making authority.

  2. Physical custody: This involves the day-to-day care and supervision of the children and determines where they live. It can be joint, with children spending substantial time with both parents or sole, where children primarily live with one parent and visit the other.

The court decides custody arrangements based on the best interests of the child, considering factors like the child's and parent's wishes and the child's relationship with each parent.

The court determines child support based on Minnesota Child Support Guidelines, considering factors such as the parents' income, the number of children, custody arrangements, childcare costs, health insurance, medical expenses, and the child's standard of living.

How can I protect my finances when going through a divorce in Minnesota?

In this challenging time, you likely have numerous concerns about safeguarding your assets, managing debts, and securing your financial future.

Here are some strategies to protect your finances during a divorce:

  1. Get organized: Before initiating divorce proceedings, gather all pertinent financial records and documents, including tax returns, bank statements, credit card bills, and retirement accounts. Creating a comprehensive list of assets and liabilities, both marital and non-marital, will facilitate fair negotiations with your spouse regarding property and debts.

  2. Consider mediation: Collaborating with a neutral third party can often be less time-consuming, less expensive, and less stressful than traditional court proceedings.

  3. Review Social Security benefits: If your marriage lasted at least 10 years, you may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record. Exploring this option can provide valuable income during retirement, particularly if your ex-spouse earned more than you. Be sure to understand the eligibility criteria before proceeding.

  4. Seek professional guidance: Divorce can significantly impact your financial situation. Consulting with a financial advisor who specializes in divorce can provide invaluable insight and assistance in navigating these changes and planning for your future. Their expertise can help you make informed decisions and achieve financial stability during this transition.

Get expert financial advice

A financial advisor can help you assess your current financial status, create a post-divorce budget, and develop a long-term financial plan that aligns with your needs and goals.

Unbiased can connect you with a financial advisor perfectly suited to meet your needs. Simply provide some details about what you’re looking for, and Unbiased’s platform will match you with your advisor.

Find your financial advisor with Unbiased today.


Unbiased team

Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing and retirement, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.

Need help rebuilding your finances after divorce?

A financial advisor can guide you through your financial recovery both during and after your divorce.