No, your spouse does not need to be present for the court to issue a divorce decree.

Under Minnesota Stat. 518.13, if one party does not appear, the court may default the party, i.e. grant the divorce even if one spouse doesn’t participate.

Additionally, if there are no minor children, then the parties may send a Stipulated Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, Order for Judgment, or Judgment and Decree (an agreed upon divorce decree) to the court and ask the judge to administratively issue the dissolution.  This also applies if there are minor children and both parties are represented by counsel.

Another typical situation is where an unrepresented party will agree to the terms of the divorce, sign one of the above decrees, and waive their right to counsel.  The unrepresented spouse can also stipulate that they waive their rights to answer the petition, choose to not appear, and ask that the judgment to be entered in accordance with the stipulated terms.

It is always best to be present for a court appearance, however, in certain circumstances it may not be necessary.