How Long Do I Need to be in Minnesota?

People occasionally ask me how long they need to reside in Minnesota before they can file for divorce in Minnesota.  The answer is 180 days (which is six months).  You have to have resided in Minnesota for six months before you can file for divorce here.  If you have moved to Minnesota from another state, that state will have jurisdiction over your marriage and divorce proceeding, until you have been in Minnesota for six months.  This is a jurisdictional issue and I am not aware of any way to circumvent it.

Six months is also the magic number for child custody proceedings.  Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisidiction Act, a child’s “home state” is the state in which a custody proceeding should take place.  Under the act, a child’s “home state” is defined as the state that the child has resided in for six months.  If you lived in Florida with your children and moved to Minnesota, Minnesota will not have jurisdiciton to enter an original custody and paernting time order, or to modify a custody and parenting time order, until you and the child have been in Minnesota for six months.

Minnesota will not have the legal authority to award spousal maintnenance unless the obligor (that is the sp0use who will pay the spousal maintenance) has some connection to Minnesota.  If you moved here from Missouri but your spouse stayed in Missouri, and if he or she has no connections to Minnesota, then even though you can get divorced in Minnesota, the issue of spousal maintenance will be reserved so that it can be pursued in the State of Missouri.

Child support is treated somewhat differently.  If you moved here from Missouri, for example, and brought the kids, and your spouse remained in Missouri, you can get an order for child support working in Minnesota.  Technically, the support order will come from a Missouri court, applying Missouri law to the child support obligor’s situation.  The county attorney’s office from the county in which you reside can work with the county attorney’s office in the foreign state to obtain a court order from the proper court in the foreign state.

Daniel Fiskum is a Minnesota divorce attorney who has been practicing since 1992. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and has been named a "Super Lawyer" by the Minnesota Journal of Law and Politics. Mr. Fiskum is currently writing a book for attorneys and non-attorneys entitled "The Streetfighter's Guide to Divorce," which is scheduled for publication in May, 2010. Many of his blog entries will appear in the book. You may contact attorney Fiskum directly at (952) 270-7700. His office is located in the Carlson Towers in Minnetonka, Minnesota. The Fiskum Law website is found at www.fiskumlaw.com.

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