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Minnesota Divorce Terms You Should Know

On the List

Divorce can be a complex process for anyone involved, so having as much information as possible before getting started can make filing a bit of a smoother process. One of the sets of information that is crucial to understanding is the terminology used in Minnesota divorces. Here is a list of the key terms used in a Minnesota divorce that can help you as you plan for your new future.

Dissolution of Marriage

Many people refer to ending a marriage as divorce, as it is the more common word. In Minnesota law, however, this act is referred to as a dissolution of marriage. When the petition for dissolution is filed and the process is completed, then the marriage is “dissolved” by the court and ended.

Judgment and Decree

Once the divorce is complete, then the final paperwork signaling that the marriage is dissolved is known as the judgment and decree. This paperwork also includes all information related to spousal maintenance, child support, custody, parenting time, and other marital issues decided by the court.

Uncontested/Contested

When two parties in a divorce/dissolution are able to resolve all marital issues outside of court and can come to a mutually acceptable agreement, then the divorce is known as uncontested.

By contrast, if the two parties are unable to come to an agreement on these issues and the case ends up in court for a judge to decide, then the divorce is known as contested.

Grounds for Dissolution

The grounds for dissolution refer to the basis for your petition for dissolution. In other words, this is the reason you are seeking a dissolution.

Custody

Custody is an issue normally surrounding children. There are two types of custody in Minnesota: physical custody and legal custody.

Physical Custody

Physical custody refers to the location where the child resides. This is typically assigned to both parents (provided doing so is in the child’s best interests) in a joint custody arrangement. The parent with whom the child resides is known as the primary custody holder.

Depending on the situation, only one parent could hold custody of the child, and this is referred to as sole custody.

Legal Custody

Legal custody gives a parent the right to make a decision on behalf of the child. These decisions are typically in regard to medical issues, religion, or education.

Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance is a payment made to a spouse who is financially impacted by the divorce. Other common terms for this are alimony and spousal support.

Many factors are taken into consideration when a judge determines spousal maintenance, such as the dependent spouse’s earning capacity, the income of both spouses, and other similar factors.

Most spousal maintenance is awarded after the divorce is finalized and can be either temporary or permanent. There are instances, however, where spousal maintenance payments can be awarded during the divorce itself; these situations are usually reserved for the event that a spouse is left with very little when the divorce occurs.

Equitable Distribution

Property division in Minnesota occurs on an equitable distribution basis. This means that property acquired during the marriage (known as marital property) is divided fairly based on each spouse’s contribution to the marriage. This does not guarantee that all property up for division will be divided equally, but this can be the case.

Any property acquired prior to the marriage is known as separate property and is not subject to distribution in the divorce.

Divorce Attorney

Your divorce attorney is the person helping you throughout the legal process and defending your right to custody and property throughout the divorce. It is important to have an attorney by your side, as legal issues are difficult to navigate without someone who knows how to handle each situation that comes up.


Johnson / Turner Legal is ready to help you understand your divorce, answer your questions, or get you started on the process. To schedule your consultation, call us at (651) 371-9117 or visit us online.

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