How to obtain a divorce decree online in Minnesota
The short answer to this question is – in no way. In Minnesota, you can’t get a divorce decree online, as only the court issues it. However, you can prepare your divorce papers online. It’s called online divorce or divorce over the internet, and that’s what you’re going to learn about today.
Does Internet Divorce Suit Everyone?
Again, the short answer is – not everyone. Only those who have resolved all issues related to their separation and agreed on property division, spousal support (also known as alimony), child custody and support, etc., can prepare their application for divorce online. Their case must be qualified as an uncontested divorce.
In most situations, it is easier for a couple to end their marriage this way if they can settle all the disputes without an attorney and avoid lengthy court battles, saving their time and money.
If spouses want to complete divorce papers online, they need to find a platform that provides such services. There are quite a few divorce companies on the internet for example. However, you should make sure the company you choose is trustworthy. You can read about its experience in this field and check out customers’ feedback.
Moreover, it is crucial to consider the cost of the services. Sometimes companies quote one price for their service, then additional hidden payments may come up, and the cost of divorce documents preparation is higher than expected.
Getting a Divorce in Minnesota: The Process Overview
Regardless of how you decide to end your marriage, you need to understand the process’s basic steps and specifics in Minnesota.
First, investigate the terminology. In Minnesota, divorce is officially called the dissolution of marriage. The filing-for-divorce-spouse is called the petitioner, and the other party acts as the respondent.
Choosing the Grounds for Divorce
Minnesota is one of 17 US states where only no-fault reasons for divorce are accepted. It means that neither party is blamed for breaking the marriage.
In this state, spouses just need to declare that the marriage has broken up irrevocably and family relations cannot be repaired. However, just declaring it is not enough. The spouses still must prove it.
It can be done in three ways:
- Spouses must prove they have been separated for at least 180 days;
- Spouses must prove there is a serious discord between them that changed their attitude towards the marriage;
- Spouses must prove there are no reasonable prospects of reconciliation.
You can’t file using fault-based grounds, such as adultery. However, the court may consider such reasons when dividing the property if the aggrieved party proves that the infidelity led to the waste of family money.
Meeting Residency Requirements
The next mandatory step is to meet the state residency requirements. Under local family law, the divorce can be granted if:
- one of the spouses resided in Minnesota for at least 180 days before filing documents with the court;
- one of the spouses domiciled in Minnesota for at least 180 days before filing documents with the court.
In case one of the spouses is in the military and wants to apply for divorce, this spouse must be a member of the military services stationed in Minnesota.
If the filing spouse fails to meet one of the requirements mentioned above, they can apply in the state where they qualify or ask the other side to file if they meet the Minnesota state residency requirements.
Right at this stage, you can use what is called web divorce. It’s a relatively quick and affordable way to prepare all the necessary documents.
However, if you want to save even more money on form preparation, you can do it yourself. You can visit the Minnesota Judicial Branch site, select the relevant papers, download them, and fill them out. The basic set of documents includes:
- Petition for Dissolution of Marriage Without Children or Petition for Dissolution of Marriage With Children, if spouses have them (if the spouses have already agreed on all marital aspects, they can prepare a joint petition);
- Financial Affidavit for Child Support, if applicable;
- Certification of Dissolution;
- Certificate of Representation (even for spouses who don’t hire a lawyer and represent themselves in the court).
Although DIY divorce is the most inexpensive way to prepare forms since you don’t have to pay an attorney, it still has drawbacks. First, it’s not that fast. You may have to spend hours selecting the forms you need and even more time filling them out. Second, if a person is not familiar with legal paperwork, it can be pretty challenging for them to fill the documents out correctly the first time. If the court clerk finds mistakes in your papers, you will have to restart your document preparation process from the very beginning.
Filing Your Documents
Spouses can file their papers with the court in the county where one of them lives. In addition to the original document package, the filing spouse needs to make two copies – one to serve the other spouse and one for their personal records.
The petitioner will also need to pay filing fees. On average, it’s around $400, but the amount may differ from county to county. If the filing spouse is unable to pay, they can fill out a Request for Fee Waiver. After reviewing it, the court may cancel the fee.
Once you have brought the documents to the court and paid the fee, the court clerk registers the case. At this point, the divorce process officially starts.
Serving Your Spouse and Getting a Divorce Decree
The petitioner must send copies of the documents to the second spouse. You can do it yourself or hire a sheriff for an additional fee. After your spouse confirms the receipt of the papers, the waiting period starts. It may last differently depending on the complexity of the case. Usually, if the spouses filed a joint petition, the court can issue a decree within 30 days. But most often, spouses have to wait from 6 to 12 weeks. If the proceeding is contested, the time frame can be much longer.
While couples can’t get divorce decrees online, they can take advantage of modern technology to prepare their documents. In Minnesota, spouses are allowed to complete their divorce papers online, but local laws and processes need to be considered.
A breakup doesn’t have to take years and thousands of dollars or be a stressful event. If the spouses are able and willing to resolve all their issues peacefully, the dissolution of marriage can be less costly, time-consuming, and stressful.