Modifying Divorce Decrees in Minnesota

In Minnesota, it is possible to modify certain parts of a divorce decree after the divorce is final. 

A Minnesota divorce becomes “final” when the judge has signed the divorce Judgment and Decree (the full title of the document is “Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, Order for Judgment and Judgment and Decree) and the clerk of court has entered the Judgment and Decree into the court record.  A divorce is not final until the clerk of court has taken this last step.  In larger counties in Minneosta, this often does not happen until several days after the judge has signed off on the Judgment and Decree.

Once the divorce judgment is entered, either party has 60 days to file an appeal with the Minnesota Court of Appeals.  If 60 days has lapsed with no appeal filed, the the divorce Judgment and Decree is final and can no longer be appealed.

However, certain aspects of the divorce Judgment and Decree can always be reopened and modified, provided this is justified by new circumstances that evolve after the divorce is final.  Generally speaking, those portions of the divorce Judgment and Decree pertaining to property division remain final and cannot be reopened or modified.  There is an exception if it can be shown that a spouse engaged in fraud. 

But, those portions of the divorce Judgment and Decree pertaining to child custody, parenting time, child support, and alimony or spousal maintenance can be reopened and modified.  In order to do this, one generally has to show that there has been a change of circumstances that makes the terms of the current Judgment and Decree unreasonable and unfair.  Or, in the case of child custody and parenting time, one has to show that a modification of the custody and parenting time provisions would be in the child’s best interest.  There specific things one needs to prove in order to do this, and there are timing requirements and legal standards that one needs to meet. 

If you need to know more about this subject, feel free to call Fiskum Law at (952) 270-7700 for a free consultation.

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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