Minnesota Divorce FAQ’s – Miscellaneous

This is about miscellaneous issues for divorce in Minnesota, including residence requirements, grounds for divorce, common law marriage, annulment, legal separation, and any requirement for parent training in Minnesota.

This information is from Maury D. Beaulier, the DivorceInfo Network Lawyer for Minnesota. Click here to visit his web site.

What are the requirements for residence?

You must reside in the state for 180 days immediately prior to filing and one of the parties must reside in the County where the case is filed.

What are the grounds for divorce?

Minnesota is a “No Fault” divorce state.  As a result, one party must simply allege that their has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage relationship.

Is there such a thing as common law marriage?

Common law marriage is not recognized in the State of Minnesota.

How does annulment work?

In our modern world, an annulment tends to be more a creature of religion than of law.  Annulments are rarely granted and when they are, very specific circumstances must exist. Often people believe that they may annul a marriage simply because it was of a very short duration.  That is not the case. To annul a marriage, a person must demonstrate that the marriage is void because it is prohibited by the laws of the State  or is voidable because the intent to enter into a civil contract was not present at the time that the parties married.

An annulment may be granted when a marriage is automatically void under the law for public policy reasons or voidable by one party when certain requisite elements of the marriage contract were not present at the time of the marriage.

        Void Marriages.

A marriage is automatically void and is automatically annulled when it is prohibited by law. Under Minnesota’s statutes a lawful marriage may be contracted when the following requisites are met:

  • only between persons of the opposite sex; and
  • only when a license has been obtained as provided by law; and
  •  when the marriage is contracted in the presence of two witnesses;
  •  and solemnized by one authorized, or whom one or both of the parties in good faith believe to be authorized, by law to marry them.

Any marriage occurring after April 26, 1941, without these elements is considered null and void. Additionally, Minnesota Statutes specifically prohibits a nullifies the following marriage without any decree of dissolution or other legal proceedings :

Bigamy. A marriage entered into before the dissolution of an earlier marriage of one of the parties becomes final, as provided in section 518.145 or by the law of the jurisdiction where the dissolution was granted;

Interfamily Marriage. A marriage between an ancestor and a descendant, or between a brother and a sister, whether the relationship is by the half or the whole blood or by adoption;

Marriage between Close Relatives. A marriage between an uncle and a niece, between an aunt and a nephew, or between first cousins, whether the relationship is by the half or the whole blood, except as to marriages permitted by the established customs of aboriginal cultures; and

Same Sex Marriage. A marriage between persons of the same sex,  a marriage entered into by persons of the same sex, either under common law or statute even if the same sex marriage was recognized by another state or foreign jurisdiction.  Any rights granted  by the foreign jurisdiction recognizing the same sex marriage are unenforceable in the state of Minnesota.

Voidable marriages.

A voidable marriage is one where an annulment is not automatic and must be sought by one of the parties.  Generally, an annulment may be sought by one of the parties to a marriage if the intent to enter into the civil contract of marriage was not present at the time of the marriage, either due to mental illness, intoxication, duress or fraud.  Minnesota Statutes set out the following circumstances under which a marriage may be annulled by Petition:

Lack of Mental Capacity. A party lacked capacity to consent to the marriage at the time the marriage was solemnized, either because of mental incapacity or infirmity and the other party at the time the marriage was solemnized did not know of the incapacity; or because of the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other incapacitating substances; or because consent of either was obtained by force or fraud and there was no subsequent voluntary cohabitation of the parties;

Lack of Physical Capacity to have Intercourse.   A party lacks the physical capacity to consummate the marriage by sexual intercourse and the other party at the time the marriage was solemnized did not know of the incapacity.  This is considered a material term of the civil contract of marriage;

A Party was Under the Age of Consent. A party was under the age for marriage established by Minnesota law.  Minnesota Statutes requires that a person must have reached the full age of 18 years to marry. Moreover, a 16 year old may marry only if they have the consent of the person’s parents, guardian, or the court.

A marriage by an underage party may become legally binding and incapable of annulment if the cohabitation of the parties as husband and wife continues voluntarily after the person reached the age of consent.  Similarly, a marriage involving an insane person may not be annulled if the person with the mental disability is restored to capacity and the parties continued to freely cohabitate as husband and wife.

Is there such a thing as legal separation? If so, how does it work?

A legal separation may address the same issues as a divorce including division of assets, debts, determinations of custody, parenting schedules and child support.  The only difference is that the marital relationship is not dissolved.

Do parents of minor children have to go through parent training? If so, how much does it cost, and how long does it take?

In any divorce involving minor children, both parents will be required to attend a co-parenting course approved by the county.  This should not be confused with a parenting class which teaches how to care for children.  A co-parenting course teaches divorce parents how to relate to each other and to minimize the impact of the divorce on their children.

Other issues in Minnesota:

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