Divorce Jurisdiction Over Non-Residents

Divorce is an overwhelming process, and it can take people months or even years to make the decision to move forward with the case.  During the time when the relationship starts to disintegrate and the parties decide to actually file the divorce, it is very possible that the parties will have been separated.  When one spouse decides to take the plunge and move forward with the divorce, it is possible that the spouses now live in totally different states or even different countries.  If you live in Minnesota but your spouse does not, it is still possible that you may be able to file your divorce in Minnesota.

divorce papers

First, you need to understand that contrary to common misconception, you do not need to seek a divorce in the same state or county where you and your spouse first got married.  Instead, divorce jurisdiction usually lies where at least one of the parties resides.  Minnesota law provides that if you have lived in Minnesota for at least one hundred and eighty days, you can file for divorce in this state.  Minnesota statute § 518.07 gives Minnesota courts subject matter jurisdiction over divorce as long as one of the parties has resided here for the minimum required time limit of one hundred and eighty days.  However, a court must have both subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction in order to render a valid divorce decree.  Personal jurisdiction refers to a court’s ability to make decisions about the people involved in a lawsuit, whereas subject matter jurisdiction refers to a court’s ability to make decisions about the subject matter of the dispute.  To determine whether a court has personal jurisdiction over a non-resident, the court will look to the factors in its long-arm statute.  These factors include owning real or personal property in Minnesota, transacting business in Minnesota, commits any act in Minnesota causing injury or property damage, or commits an act outside of Minnesota causing injury or damage in Minnesota.  The court will also look to see if the non-resident party has maintained minimum contacts with the state of Minnesota.  These minimum contacts can include if the non-resident has lived in Minnesota in the past, has worked here, or ever held a driver’s license here.

Let us help you with gaining a proper understanding of the procedures underlying divorce. Call us at 651-371-9117 for a consultation.