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What are the hours and location of the Self-Help Center in Family Court?
To visit the Self-Help Center, you must check in at the Court Administration counter in the building lobby.
What are the hours of the “signing” judge in Family Court?
The “signing” judge or referee is available at set times to review and sign court orders on simple, administrative-type requests, such as Fee Waivers and Requests to Serve by Alternate Means.
There is a television screen in the lobby of the Family Justice Center that displays the name of the signing judge or referee for the day and his or her courtroom number. You can ask staff for information at the Filing Counter on the 1st floor of the Family Justice Center.
Do I have to have an attorney in court?
No. You have the right to represent yourself in Family Court without a lawyer, but you are required to know and follow the court rules and the law. If your case is complicated or you are going to trial, you may need to get help from a lawyer. There are many referral programs to help you find a lawyer. The court rarely appoints free or low-cost attorneys for parties in family court matters, except in very limited situations and only when the court finds that a party qualifies based on low income.
Do I have to attend a divorce education class?
If you are a parent filing for divorce in Hennepin County and you do not agree on custody or parenting time, you must attend a divorce education program certified by the 4th District Court. If you want to attend a different parenting or divorce education program, you must get the approval of the judicial officer assigned to your case. Note: The court may also order unmarried parties in custody and parenting time actions to attend an education program.
When is my divorce final?
After a judge signs your final divorce decree document, Court Administration completes a process where that document is "entered" into the official record as a final judgment and decree. Once that process is complete, the divorce is final and Court Administration will send a notice to the petitioner (or petitioner's attorney if represented.)
In uncontested divorces (where parties agree on all issues), it generally takes 4-6 weeks to finish the divorce after the case is filed.
What is a QDRO?
“QDRO” is short for Qualified Domestic Relations Order. A QDRO is a court order that directs the administrator of an employment-based retirement plan to give all or a part of the dollar value of the account to the non-employee spouse. A retirement account is one of the assets that may be divided between spouses in a divorce. Generally, the attorneys or parties (if self-represented) draft the QDRO, and they must get it approved by the retirement plan administrator before they submit it to the court for final approval. If you are representing yourself, we strongly recommend that you get help from an attorney because this area of the law is very complicated, and you want to make sure your QDRO has all of the required terms. The Family Court Self-Help Center does not have forms and does not help prepare QDROs.
Can I change my name in my Family Court case?
Either spouse may request a name change as part of a divorce or legal separation. If you do not plan to file one of those case types, you could file a name change application in Civil Court.
Can I change the name of my minor child in my Family Court case?
Generally, a name change application for a minor child should be made in Civil Court. If you have questions about the process, contact the Self-Help Center located in the Government Center. If the other parent does not agree to the name change, you should get legal advice about your situation.
If you have an open case in Family Court, you may be able to make your request for a minor name change in that Family Court case. You must be able to show that the name change is in the minor child's best interests, as well as meet some other legal requirements, so you should get legal advice about your situation.
How can I add the name of my child's father on a birth certificate issued in Minnesota?
For a child born in Minnesota, if the father is willing to admit to paternity and be recognized as the 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. That agency handles birth certificates of children born in Minnesota, so you should contact them if you have questions about that process.
If the father is not willing to admit to paternity, you may have to file a paternity case in Family Court to establish who is the legal father before you could start the process to add the father's name to a birth certificate. If you currently get public assistance, your county case worker may be able to help you start a paternity case. You could also visit the Family Court Self-Help Center to learn about the process. We recommend that you get legal advice on your options to establish paternity.
How can I change a birth certificate issued in Minnesota?
Mistakes: If the information on a Minnesota birth certificate is wrong or missing because a mistake was made when the birth certificate was created, you can correct the mistake by contacting your local County Vital Statistics office or the MN Department of Health. The process to amend (change) a birth record is explained on the website for the MN Department of Health, and you could call (651)201-5970 for more information.
Other circumstances: You may file a name change application in Civil Court and ask for an order to change a birth certificate only if you can prove that there are exceptional circumstances that make it necessary to change the birth certificate. You must state your reasons on the application form and specifically ask the judge to order the Registrar of Vital Statistics to change the birth certificate. You should get legal advice about this option.
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