We receive calls often from out of state parties who have been served with divorce papers from Minnesota or who would like to divorce someone in the state of Minnesota but do not know what to do. There are many elements that determine which state you should file your case in.
First, if you have children, there is federal law that was adopted by almost every state that controls which state is proper. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, or UCCJEA, defines the proper state as the state where the children have resided for the previous six months. If you just left the state of Minnesota and would like to file in your new state, you must first find out if that state adopted the UCCJEA. Minnesota has adopted it and it is now a part of the state’s statutes. At that point, you can make the decision whether to wait to file for divorce until the proper time has run or if you would like to file in Minnesota.
Another consideration in choosing which state to file for divorce is whether you own a home or not. If you own any real property, the state where the property is located is the only state that can make decisions regarding the disposition of the property. This means that if you live in Iowa but own a home in Minnesota and you and your spouse do not agree regarding what to do with the house, a court in Minnesota must make that decision. The Iowa court will not make the decision for you.
Other factors play a role in where it is proper to file for divorce, including the length of time you have lived in a certain state. In the state of Minnesota, one of the parties must reside here for 180 days before filing.
If you have questions about jurisdiction, it is best to speak with an attorney to make sure that you make the best decision based on your situation.