How location and residence affect divorce

On Behalf of | Apr 15, 2020 | Divorce |

The government of each state has the authority to set its own eligibility requirements for couples seeking a divorce. Therefore, these can vary widely by jurisdiction. The state of Minnesota places few restrictions on divorcing couples, but it does impose residency requirements. This is not unique to Minnesota, but the length of the requirement may vary by jurisdiction. 

Questions can also arise if you have separated from your spouse and he or she has since relocated. If your spouse’s current location is not available, you may wonder about your ability to file for divorce. Fortunately, Minnesota state law addresses this issue as well as residency questions. 

Service by alternative means 

This is a method to file for divorce when you do not know your spouse’s location and therefore cannot serve him or her personally with divorce papers. You can request service by alternative means from the court by filling out and submitting the necessary paperwork. The court can then grant permission for service by alternative means. 

However, this is an exception to the usual requirements due to special circumstances. If you do know your spouse’s location, you must have a third party deliver the paperwork to him or her by hand. The party who performs this personal service must be over the age of 18. 

Residency and citizenship 

Before you obtain a divorce in Minnesota, state law requires that either you or your spouse have lived in the state for at least 180 days prior, which amounts to six months. The only exception is if either you or your spouse is an active service member of the armed forces. In this instance, you or your spouse, as applicable, must have maintained your Minnesota residency even if deployed elsewhere. 

Note that residency is not the same thing as citizenship. As long as you meet the residency requirements, you do not need to be a citizen of the United States to file for divorce in Minnesota.