The 180 Day Rule and Jurisdiction

Posted on Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017 by Marc Beyer and is filed under Divorce,  Minnesota,  Process.

Almost every state has a requirement that you must live in that state for a certain amount of time before you can file for a divorce there. Minnesota is no different. In Minnesota, the law provides that one or both of the parties must have resided in the state for “not less than 180 days immediately preceding the commencement of the proceeding.”

The reason for the law is simple. It is intended to prevent “forum shopping.” The law wants to ensure that people who use the Court system in Minnesota are in fact residents of Minnesota. So, if you are married and living with your spouse in, say, Texas, you could not file for divorce in Minnesota as a way to avoid the court system in Texas. First you would have to move to Minnesota and actually reside here for 180 days. This helps ensure that your move to Minnesota is legitimate and you are not randomly selecting a state to start your divorce action.

This issue touches on other more complicated issues like personal jurisdiction. In addition to at least one spouse residing in Minnesota for 180 days, Minnesota would also need to have personal jurisdiction over the Respondent. By satisfying the 180 day rule, a Minnesota Court would have jurisdiction over the marriage (something called subject matter jurisdiction), and thus could issue a Judgment and Decree of Marital Dissolution. But absent personal jurisdiction over the Respondent, the Court could not rule on such things as child support, spousal maintenance, or property division. And, in order for the Court to have personal jurisdiction over the Respondent, he/she must have sufficient “minimum contacts” with the State of Minnesota.

These are complicated issues. Significant portions of civil procedure class in law school are devoted to topics like jurisdiction. This blog is not intended to be a substitute for that instruction. The take home point, though, is to be aware of residency issues when moving from a different state when filing for divorce. Anytime the parties live in different states you need to consider the jurisdiction issue. You must be sure that the Court has the ability to hear your case before you file there. Ask your lawyer if you have questions about this.

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If you are facing divorce and any of the divorce-related issues such as spousal maintenance, child support, child custody, property division, or domestic abuse matters, you need our experienced Minneapolis divorce attorneys to help you. Contact Beyer & Simonson in Edina, Minnesota today at (952) 303-6007.