Step 2: Notify spouse of divorce
Divorce is actually a legal procedure between you and your spouse, so, in order to satisfy legal requirements, you must properly notify your spouse that legal action is being taken against them. In a divorce proceeding, this is called Service of Process, and involves delivering copies of the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and Summons along with supporting documents to your spouse in a timely manner.
Under Minnesota law, you must complete Service of Process immediately after filing your petition. You may fulfill this legal requirement in one of the following ways:
- In person—Minnesota allows anyone who is 18 years of age or older and is not a party to the lawsuit to serve the divorce papers in person. In most cases, the process server is a sheriff or a professional, bonded process server. Once the papers have been delivered to the respondent’s home, person or attorney, the process server must complete the Affidavit of Service and file it with the Clerk of Court.
- By mail—If your spouse is willing to accept the delivery of divorce papers, you may complete Service of Process by sending the papers via mail. Your spouse must sign the included Acknowledgement of Service form and return it to you.
- By publication—If you are unable to locate your spouse or lives outside the state, you may ask the court to serve notice by publication. If the court approves, then you may post notice of the divorce in a local newspaper for a minimum of three consecutive weeks.
Once Service of Process has been completed, your spouse will have 30 days to respond to the petition or lose certain legal rights under Minnesota law.
If your spouse does not respond to the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, then the judge may assume that the respondent is waiving their right to participate in the divorce proceedings. In this case, the court will likely grant the plaintiff most or all they are seeking in the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
If your spouse does not wish to contest the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, they may file a Summary Dissolution jointly with you with the court. This obviates the need for a trial and allows parties to submit evidence in written form. To use this uncontested divorce procedure, you and your spouse must meet the following eligibility criteria:
- There are no minor children in the household.
- The wife is not pregnant
- There are no debts, assets or real estate worth more than $25,000.
- There is no history of domestic violence.
- The marriage must have lasted less than 8 years.
If your spouse files an Answer that disputes details in the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, then the judge will order you and your spouse to trial. There may be a number of hearings and legal proceedings before a trial occurs, so you will probably need an attorney to guide you through the process. Before the trial, you and your spouse’s attorney may engage in evidence requests, witness interviews and negotiations. This may be a lengthy and complex process that could cost you a great deal personally and financially.