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How and where do I file Family Court papers?
In person: Family Justice Center
110 South Fourth Street
First Floor - Family Filing Counter
By mail: Family Court
Family Justice Center
110 South Fourth Street, Suite 600
Minneapolis, MN 55401-2279
By 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 Court Fees for a complete list of current fees.
Cash, check or money order accepted. No credit cards. Make check payable to District Court Administrator.
How do I get a divorce?
A proceeding for divorce (dissolution) may be brought by either or both spouses and 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. Forms are available from the Self-Help Center at the Family Justice Center. However, most divorces are complicated and we recommend that you seek the advice and representation of an attorney.
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.
How do I get visitation or custody of children for which I am not a parent?
This is a complicated process for which no forms are currently available through the Court. You should seek the advice of an attorney. You may also contact the Legal Aid Society for a copy of their handbook entitled "Kinship Caregiver Resource Manual".
When do I have a court appearance in Family Court?
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 there's a bench warrant out for me? And if there is 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 issued. If one did you must appear in person at Hennepin County Sheriff's Office Civil Unit,
How do I increase/decrease the amount of child support I receive?
Individuals who are entitled to receive child support or maintenance can request a modification of their court order. A court order for child support maintenance may be changed by showing:
- Substantially increased or decreased earnings of a party.
- Substantially increased or decreased need of a party or the child(ren) of this 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 forms are available online, in person at the 1st Floor counter of the Family Justice Center, 110 South 4th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55401-2279; or by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the same address. Request the form 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 made through a child support office, you must also make one copy for Support and Collections.
You may file the originals of the papers with the Court Administrator's Office in person or by mail at least 14 days before the hearing. You may or may not have to pay a filing fee. Check with the Court Administrator's Office at (612)348-6734. The other side must receive a copy at least 14 days before the hearing. (You should allow at least three additional days for mailing.)
When you attend the hearing you will be asked if you have taken all reasonable steps to settle this matter out of court. You must try to reach the other parties (or their attorneys) in person, by phone, or in writing to try to settle this matter. Before the hearing, you must tell the court how you have tried to settle it.
How do I get my child's father's name on the birth certificate?
If the father is willing, he may sign a Recognition of Parentage. This will be filed with the Department of Vital Records and they will make the change to the birth certificate.
If the father is not willing to admit paternity, a paternity action will need to be filed in Family Court. If you have an attorney, he/she can do this for you. If you are receiving public assistance, contact your worker for assistance. If you are not receiving public assistance and do not have an attorney, the Family Court Self Help Center may be of some assistance.
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 filing and judgment departments. Once judgment has been entered the divorce is final and notice will be sent out to the petitioner or the petitioner's attorney, if any. On uncontested divorces a good rule of thumb is 4-6 weeks after filing the case.