How can I change my child support order?
Visit the Child Support Help Topic
to learn about child support and get forms, instructions and other resources. You can also get forms and other services at the Family Court Self Help Center
How can I get a divorce?
To get divorced in Minnesota, one of the spouses must be living in Minnesota for at least 180 days
before starting the case. To file for divorce in the Hennepin County Family Court, one of the spouses must live in Hennepin County.
An action for divorce (marital dissolution) may be filed by either spouse alone, or together in a joint petition. A divorce action by an individual spouse is started when a Summons and Petition
are personally served on the other spouse (or served by "alternate means" if approved by a judge). In some cases when no children are involved, the divorce can be processed without ever going to court.
You can download MN Court Forms
and from this website or get them at the Family Court Self Help Center
. We also offer a free online forms tool called I-CAN!
that will create the required forms after you answer a a series of questions. We recommend that you talk to a lawyer
to get legal advice about your situation.
Visit the Divorce Help Topic
to learn more about divorce and get forms, instructions and other resources. You can also get forms and other services at the Family Court Self Help Center.
How can I get custody of my minor children?
Generally, to start an action for custody in a Minnesota court, the child must be living in Minnesota for at least 180 days
with a parent (or a person acting as a parent) before starting the court process. There are exceptions for emergency situations.
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 the parties agree on the custody arrangement, the parties can prepare and sign a "Stipulation" and submit a proposed Order to the court for approval and signature. If the parties do not agree, then a hearing must be scheduled before the judge or referee assigned to the 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 may be able to bring a file a motion to change custody to be heard by the judge or referee assigned to your case.
Please visit the Child Support Help Topic
to learn about child support and get forms, instructions and other resources. You can also get forms and other services on a walk-in basis at the Family Court Self Help Center
How can I get visitation or custody of children if I am not their parent?
This type of custody is often referred to as "third-party custody," and the law is complicated. There are several legal options to choose from, so we strongly encourage you to talk with a lawyer
to get legal advice about your situation. The court does not
publish forms to ask for third-party custody.
A helpful booklet is the Legal Steps Manual: Raising Relatives' Children
, which explains possible legal options related to caring for someone else's child. You could also call the Relative Caregiver Warmline
(Lutheran Social Services) at (651) 917-4640 (metro)
or (877) 917-4640 (toll-free)
to learn more about third-party custody and get referrals to Minnesota attorneys who help with these types of cases.
If you are a parent and want to give another adult temporary authority to provide a home for your child and make decisions about the child's schooling, medical care, etc., you may be able to use a non-court form called Delegation of Powers by Parent Form
Use of this form does NOT grant custody
of a child under Minnesota law.
Where can I get court forms and instructions?
- Court websites: The MN Judicial Branch publishes many court forms online in the MN Court Forms catalog, which is organized by topic. Those forms can be used statewide. The Hennepin Family Court links to some additional forms on the Hennepin court forms tab. Not all of the forms have instructions, so you could call the statewide Self Help call center at (651) 259-3888 or talk with a lawyer if you have questions.
- In person: Some forms are only available on a walk-in basis at the Family Court Self Help Center located on the 1st floor of the Family Justice Center. Court staff can explain what is required in the forms and the next steps in the process.
If you cannot find a form you need on the court websites or at the courthouse, contact your local law library
, a legal forms publisher, or talk to a lawyer.
Can you mail the forms to me?
Many court forms are available to download and print from the MN Court Forms Catalog
and the Hennepin court forms
tab. If you don’t have a printer, one option is to visit a public library
and print forms there. The Family Court will mail you forms only if you live more than one hour from the courthouse
and you pre-pay for the forms and postage. You can call (612) 596-1067
and leave a message with your request.
Is there anyone who can help me fill out my forms?
The Family Court Self Help Center
has facilitators who answer questions about court forms and procedures, and they can review your forms to make sure they are complete. Forms screening is available on a first-come first-served walk-in basis
, but for people who cannot read or write in English, please make an appointment by calling the Self Help Center at (612) 596-8519
. If you are having trouble completing the forms or don’t know what to write in the blanks, the facilitator may refer you to get legal advice.
I have been served with legal documents. What should I do?
- If you've been served with documents to start a divorce, within 30 days you must serve an Answer and Counter-Petition form, or your divorce may go forward by default.
- If you’ve been served with documents to start a custody case, within 20 days you must serve your responding documents to custody action on the other party or the case may go forward without you.
- If you’ve been served with motion documents, you will need to determine what kind of responsive motion to serve and file and what your deadline is for those steps. If you don’t have an attorney, you must also have your responsive motion documents reviewed by the Family Court Self Help Center. Responsive motions usually must be filed and served at least 5 days before the hearing, but if you are raising new legal issues, the responsive motion must be filed and served at least 10 days before the hearing. If you choose to serve by mail, you must add 3 more days to those deadlines.
If you don’t file responsive documents or appear at a hearing, the judge may grant the requests of the party who filed their documents without hearing your side of the case.
My case is set for trial. What should I do to prepare?
A trial is a very complicated process that requires knowing the law and following court rules and procedures. We strongly recommend that you get help from an attorney
. You should plan to spend a lot of time in preparing for trial. The assigned judge usually issues an "Order for Trial," which has specific deadlines that must be followed. You should get legal advice on the trial before these deadlines pass. It is difficult to get a trial date changed, even if you tell the court you are not prepared.
See also What to Expect as a Self-Represented Party in a Family Court Trial »
I have been served with a subpoena. What do I do?
A subpoena is a court order telling someone to appear at a court hearing or a deposition (usually to testify as a witness) on a certain date, or to produce documents or records. You must do what the subpoena says unless you are told by the attorney or party who issued the subpoena that they no longer need you to participate in the case. You should get legal advice
if you have concerns about the subpoena. You may contact the attorney or party who issued the subpoena to find out what information they think you can provide in the case.
How do I get a subpoena?
A subpoena is a court order telling someone to appear at a court hearing or a deposition on a certain date (often to testify as a witness), or to produce documents or records. Subpoenas in civil cases are issued under Rule 45 of the MN Rules of Civil Procedure
. There must be an existing case with a scheduled hearing, deposition or trial before a subpoena can be issued. The court publishes a sample subpoena form
, but it must be signed by a Court Administrator or an attorney before a party can use it.
Visit the Subpoena Help Topic
to learn more about subpoenas and to get forms and other resources.
If you do not have an attorney
, you can ask for a subpoena at the Family Court filing counter on the 1st floor of the Family Justice Center
. There is a fee for each subpoena issued by the court, and the fee must be paid at the time of the request unless you have a fee waiver (IFP)
Carefully read the instructions on the subpoena form, which explain how to complete the service of the subpoena and the fees that must be paid. Usually, fees must be paid to witnesses named in the subpoena. To waive the subpoena fees, you must have a current IFP Order of file, and
you must have filed an Affidavit for Supplemental IFP, which the judge or referee has approved. The "Supplemental IFP Order" specifically waives fees for the subpoena and related witness fees and costs.
After the subpoena has been served, the party using the subpoena must return the original copy of the subpoena to Family Court with proof of service. If your server was someone other than a law enforcement officer, he or she must complete the "Return of Service" section on the original copy of the subpoena before it is returned to the Court.
You should get legal advice
if you have questions about the subpoena process.
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