Ready to Change Your Divorce Decree? What to Know in Minnesota
When you first settled your divorce, you may have been perfectly happy with the divorce decree. Life can change, though, and your circumstances right along with it, causing your official divorce decree to become unworkable or impractical for one or both parties.
When a divorce decree becomes obsolete, then you can seek to have it modified. However, this process isn’t always easy.
Here’s what you need to know about changing your divorce decree and how you can make it happen with the help of an attorney.
Why Minnesota Divorce Decrees Are Modified
There are several reasons that someone may want to modify a divorce decree. The most common reasons include:
- The loss of a job
- Suffering from a disabling injury
- A move to a job that pays more money
- A child that requires specialized medical care
- Significant increase in the cost of living
- Changes to child custody, child support, or visitation agreements
When you modify a divorce decree, you’re asking the court to change the already agreed-upon divorce agreement. These modifications can change child support, child custody, visitation, alimony, or other matters that were settled in the original decree that now need changing.
Timing of Divorce Decree Changes in MN
In most cases, there is no specific frame of time required to modify an existing divorce decree. Courts recognize that situations change and that the needs of children, employment, and earnings can change in a significant way over time, but there are exceptions.
In Minnesota, courts generally do not make modifications to child custody until two years have passed from the original divorce decree. This is due to the fact that the court wants to provide stability to the child and keep their best interests at the heart of the matter.
Parents who are divorced can make minor modifications if they both agree without the involvement of the court or changes in the divorce decree.
Minnesota’s Process of Modification
If you wish to amend your divorce decree, then you normally have to follow a four-step process. Learn more about each step below.
Attempt to Agree
If you or your ex-partner want to change your agreement, then it’s always best to try not to involve the court and come to an agreement on your own. For example, changing the dates of visitation for children to accommodate a parent’s schedule can normally be agreed upon outside of the court. After the parties agree, then it’s considered an uncontested amendment and your attorney can file the change with the court without the need to appear before a judge.
To change a divorce decree requires documentation. File forms with your attorney such as the original divorce decree, the judge involved, case records, and other legal facts from the decree. Make a clear statement about what needs to be changed and the reasons for those amendments.
File the Paperwork
A court date is set when all paperwork has been completed and filed. The other party must also be served the paperwork and have a chance to respond.
Go to Court
You must attend court on the agreed-upon date and present your case to a judge, who will then rule on it accordingly. Don’t be intimidated by amendments you must make to a divorce decree. The court recognizes that they’re necessary and as long as you make a solid case for the proposed changes, chances are you will be successful in changing your divorce decree.
About the Author:
A former Assistant Public Defender for the Sixth Judicial District in Duluth and former staff attorney for the Indian Legal Assistance Program, Brent R. Olson is an experienced trial lawyer who has appeared in every Courthouse in the Sixth Judicial District and taken over three dozen cases to verdict. At LaCourse, Poole & Envall, Mr. Envall focuses on family law, workers’ compensation, and criminal defense. He has a strong belief in restorative justice and helped to develop the Domestic Violence Restorative Circles program.