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FAQs - Family Court
How and where do I file documents in Family Court?
||Family Justice Center
110 South Fourth Street
1st Floor - Filing Counter
Minneapolis, MN 55401
||4th District Family Court
Family Justice Center
110 South Fourth Street, Suite 600
Minneapolis, MN 55401-2279
||Fax #(612) 596-9309
Additional fees apply for filing by fax. If fees are not paid within five business days, your judicial officer may delay or continue your hearing when you appear in court. DO NOT send originals to the court; keep them with your personal files and bring them to your hearing.
||See Family Court Filing Fees. The court accepts cash, check or money order, but not credit cards. Make check payable to District Court Administrator.
How do I get a divorce?
An action for divorce (dissolution) may be filed by either spouse alone, or together in a joint petition. A divorce action is started by personal service of the Summons and Petition. In some cases when there are no children involved, it is not necessary to be physically present in court to get a divorce. Court Forms can be downloaded from this website, and they are available at the Family Court Self-Help Center. We recommend that you talk to a lawyer to get legal advice about your situation.
Learn more about Divorce at the MN Courts Self-Help Center.
How do I get custody of my minor children?
If this is a new case and there is no existing order from any court, a Petition for Custody would have to be served on the other party and filed with the Court. If there is no dispute over the custody arrangement, the parties can prepare and sign a "Stipulation" and submit a proposed Order to the District Court for signature. If the parties do not agree, then a hearing must be scheduled before the judge or referee assigned to your case. The judge or referee will then make the decision considering the best interests of the child.
If there is a Court order granting custody to the other party, you can file a motion to change custody to be heard by the judge or referee assigned to your case.
Learn more about Child Custody at the MN Courts Self-Help Center.
How do I get visitation or custody of children if I am not their parent?
This is sometimes known as "third-party custody" and it is a complicated process. The court does not publish forms to aks for third-party custody. We recommend that you talk with a lawyer to get legal advice about your situation. To learn more about the legal options to care for someone else's child, you could read the Kinship Caregiver Legal Steps Manual.
When do I have to appear in court in a Family Court case?
Call Family Court Administration at (612)348-6734. It is helpful if you have the district court file number when you call.
I missed my Family Court hearing. How do I find out if a bench warrant was issued for me? If there is a warrant, how do I take care of it?
Bench warrants are issued for some domestic abuse and child support hearings. Please call the Sheriff's Warrant Division at (612)348-2000 to find out if a bench warrant was issued. If there is a warrant, you must appear in person at Hennepin County Sheriff's Office in downtown Minneapolis.
How can I change the amount of child support I get?
People who are entitled to receive child support can ask the court to change their existing court order. A child support order may be changed by showing:
- Substantially increased or decreased income of a party;
- Substantially increased or decreased need of a party or the child(ren) who are subject to the court order;
- Receipt of public assistance;
- A change in the cost-of-living for either party as measured by the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics;
AND that the condition makes the terms of the court order unreasonable and unfair. Unless a party shows otherwise, the court will presume your order is unreasonable and unfair if you show that application of the child support guidelines to current circumstances results in an order that is at least 20 percent and at least $50.00 per month higher or lower than the current court order. When filing, you must be as accurate and detailed as possible when you fill out the affidavit. The court needs to see your circumstances clearly before it can change your support order.
Minnesota law requires you to file, along with your affidavit, documentation of your income. This includes but is not limited to W-2 forms, tax returns, 1099s, payroll check stubs, and statements and receipts of income if self-employed. If the court finds that a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed it must impute or attribute income to that person based upon evidence of their earning ability or at least minimum wage.
The Court Forms can be downloaded from this website, and they are available in person at the Filing Counter on the 1st floor of the Family Justice Center, 110 South 4th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55401; or by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the same address. Request the forms packet entitled Motion to Modify Child Support.
When you have completely filled out the affidavit, you must have your signature witnessed before a notary public. When you have filled out the Notice of Motion and Affidavit and signed them, make two or three copies, one for you, one for the other party. If your child support payments are handled by a County Child Support Office, you must also make one copy for Support and Collections. If you need more help with the forms, you could attend a Child Support Workshop at the Family Court Self-Help Center.
File the original completed forms with the Court Administrator's Office either in person or by mail at least 14 days before the hearing. You may have to pay a filing fee. Check with the Court Administrator's Office at (612)348-6734. You must arrange to have the other party served with a copy of your motion documents at least 14 days before the hearing. (You should allow at least three additional days for mailing.)
Before the hearing, you must try to reach the other parties (or their attorneys) in person, by phone, or in writing to try to settle this matter. At your hearing the court will ask you if you have taken all reasonable steps to settle this matter out of court.
Learn more about Child Support at the MN Courts Self-Help Center.
How do I get my child's father's name on the birth certificate?
If the father is willing to be admit to paternity and be recognized as a child's legal father, he may sign a Recognition of Parentage form, which gets filed with the Office of Vital Records at the MN Dept. of Health. They handle birth certificates of children born in Minnesota.
If the father is not willing to admit to paternity, you could start a paternity action in Family Court. We recommend that you talk with a lawyer to get legal advice about your situation. If you are receiving public assistance, you could ask your county worker for help with the process. You could also visit the Family Court Self-Help Center to learn more about paternity actions.
When is my divorce final and how do I find out?
After a judge signs your final divorce decree, the document is "entered" by the court's filing and judgment departments. Once judgment has been entered, the divorce is final and the court will send a notice to the petitioner or the petitioner's attorney, if any. In uncontested divorces, it generally takes 4-6 weeks to finish the divorce after the case was filed.
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