Hennepin Family Court

Family Court is located in the Family Justice Center (FJC) in downtown Minneapolis, and handles cases such as divorce, domestic abuse, child custody and support, and paternity.
Quick Links:

Family Court Signing Judge Hours

Monday - Friday
8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Closed holidays
Information about the signing judge and courtrooms is posted on the 1st floor of the Family Justice Center, located at 110 South 4th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55401.
 

FAQs on Family Court

Visit our expanded collection of FAQs on Family Court by clicking the tab located on this page. You will find answers to the most common questions on filing procedures, court records, hearings, getting legal help, and more.


Family Court Trial Booklet

Want to learn about the basics of a court trial? Read our booklet “What to Expect as a Self-Represented Party in a Family Court Trial or Evidentiary Hearing."


Settlement of Family Court Motions

If you file a motion in a family court case, the Minnesota Court Rules say that you must contact the other party within 7 days after filing the motion to talk about settling your case. Browse the Family Court Motions Help Topic to learn more about the process and get forms.


Notice to Self-Represented Parties

By Hennepin County Court Order, all motions (except "expedited" child support motions) filed in Family Court that are prepared by people who are not represented by a lawyer must be reviewed by a Family Law Facilitator before a hearing date will be set. Contact the Family Court Self Help Center for more details.


Standing Orders for Family Court »

You can get copies of divorce decrees, custody and child support orders, and other Hennepin Family Court case documents by contacting the Family Court Records Center.
 

In Person

You can get a copy of a court document at the Family Court Records Center in room #B-17 on the lower level of the Family Justice Center located at 110 S. 4th Street, Minneapolis, MN.
 

By Mail

Fill out and mail us a Record Request Form (or write a letter) identifying the document you want, and include the court file number (if known), the names of both parties at the time the case was filed, the approximate year the document was filed (up to 2-year span). You must include payment for the copy fees. Plain copies are $10.00 each and certified copies are $16.00 each.

Make your check payable to: District Court Administrator. Send the completed request form with payment to:

4th District Family Court
Attention: Records Center
Family Justice Center
110 South Fourth Street, Suite 600
Minneapolis, MN 55401-2279

 Search court records online with MPA Remote »

MPA (Minnesota Public Access) Remote offers access to case information over the internet for certain court records in the Minnesota Court Information System (MNCIS). The information is limited as described in the MN Rules of Public Access to Records of the Judicial Branch. Information in MPA Remote is not the "official" court record. Court documents cannot be viewed in MPA Remote at this time. For criminal background checks, please contact the MN Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

The management of court records is controlled by the Records Retention Schedule for the MN Judicial Branch and the law at MN Statutes § 138.17 on keeping and destroying public records.
 

TIP: How to Search Court Records Online »

How do I get a copy of a document from a court file?
How can I get a transcript of a hearing?
How can I find information about a case?
 

How do I get a copy of a document from a court file?

Please go to the Family Court Records webpage.
 

How can I get a transcript of a hearing?

Please go to the Transcript Requests webpage.
 

How can I find information about a case?

Important: Generally, court records are available to the public, but access to certain records and case information is limited by the MN Rules of Public Access.
If you are a party to a case, you can find some case information in the online court records (case events, hearing dates, etc.) and you could visit or contact the Family Court Records Center to get copies of court documents. If you need other information, you could contact the clerk of the Judicial Officer assigned to your case.
If you are not a party to a case, you can access non-confidential information about cases that are open to the public. (For example, paternity case are confidential.) Public records are available at the Family Court Records Center, and some case information is available in the online court records (case events, hearing dates, etc.). For other information, you could call the Family Court at (612) 348-6734.
 

How do I file documents in a Family Court case?

In Person: 
Family Justice Center
110 South Fourth Street
1st Floor - Filing Counter
Minneapolis, MN 55401 
Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday – Friday

By Mail:
4th District Family Court
Family Justice Center
110 South Fourth Street, Suite 600
Minneapolis, MN 55401-2279

By Fax:
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.

By eFile:
E-file is available only for attorneys and law firms at this time, and they must file documents in Family Court using the eFile & eServe system. Payment by credit card is accepted.

Filing Fees:
See Family Court Filing Fees. The court accepts cash, check or money order, but not credit cards. Make check payable to District Court Administrator.
 

Back to Top

What can I do if I cannot afford the filing fee?

If you have a low income and cannot afford to pay court fees and costs, you may be able to get some or all of the fees and costs waived by filing a Fee Waiver (also called Application for In Forma Pauperis or IFP).

You may qualify for a fee waiver if:
  • your income is at or below 125% of the Federal poverty level;
  • you receive public assistance; or
  • you can show that you do not have enough money to pay the filing fee.
NOTE: Getting a fee waiver does not mean that you will never have to pay any costs or judgments in your case. It only applies to costs specifically stated in the IFP Order signed by the judge.

The Family Court Self-Help Center can help you with the fee waiver forms and process.
 

Back to Top

How do I file a motion in Family Court if I do not have an attorney?

The Hennepin County Family Court has issued a Standing Order that requires all motion forms (except “Expedited Process” child support cases heard by a Child Support Magistrate) prepared by self-represented parties be reviewed by a Family Law Facilitator at the Self Help Center before they can be filed in court. After the facilitator has screened the motion forms, you can file them with the court in person, by mail or by fax. 

Many court forms are available on this website and other forms are available at the Self-Help Center.
 

Back to Top

How do I withdraw a motion I already filed?

If you have filed a motion that you now want to withdraw, contact the clerk of the Judicial Officer assigned to your case to find out if that is an option in your case. If it is early in the process and the other party has not been served with the motion papers, the clerk may simply cancel the hearing date and make a note that the motion is withdrawn. If the other party has already been served and they have responded, you may not be able to withdraw the motion without the agreement of the other party or a formal written request to the court.
 

Back to Top

How do I suspend (inactivate) a case?

If you and the other party agree to suspend your case (i.e., put it on hold), you can ask the Court to put your case on “inactive status.” The first step is to contact the clerk of the Judicial Officer assigned to your case to find out what is required by that Judicial Officer to put a case on inactive status. You may be told to use a form called “Stipulation to Place Case on Inactive Status,” which is available at the Family Court Self-Help Center. Usually, a case can be put on inactive status one time for a period of several months or up to one year. If there is no activity in the case within that time frame, the case will be dismissed.
 

Back to Top

How do I reactivate a case?

If your Family Court case was placed on inactive status and has not been dismissed, you can ask the court to “reactivate” your case. Contact the clerk of the Judicial Officer assigned to your case to find out what is required by that Judicial Officer to reactivate the case. There is a form called “Affidavit Requesting Reactivation” that you may need to use. This form is available at the Family Court Self-Help Center, and they can help you complete this process.
 

Back to Top

Can I get a refund of a filing fee?

Refunds of filing fees are granted only in limited circumstances with the permission of the assigned judicial officer. Contact the clerk of the Judicial Officer in your case to find out if that is an option for your situation.
 

Back to Top

How do I transfer a case to be filed in another county (change venue)?

The county where the case is filed is called “venue.” Venue may be changed to another county only by court order based upon written agreement of the parties or when the judge finds that it would be more convenient for the parties to handle the case in another county. If the change of venue is approved, the judge will make a written order.

Change of venue often happens when the parties or children no longer live in Hennepin County and the parties agree to transfer venue. If the parties do not agree, the party who wants to change venue may bring a motion to ask for a change of venue. You can get the forms at the Self-Help Center.
 

Back to Top

How can I change (remove) a judge or referee in my case?

A party or attorney may serve and file a Notice of Removal to remove either a judge or referee from a Family Court case so long as the requirements in MN Rule of Civil Procedure 63.03MN Statute § 542.16 and MN Rule of General Practice 106 are met. The notice must be served and filed no later than 10 days after the party receives a notice from the court with the name of the judicial officer assigned to the case. The Notice of Removal must be served and filed before the start of the trial or hearing. Forms are available at the Family Court Self-Help Center but, if you want to remove a judge or referee after the 10 day deadline has passed, you should get legal advice on whether removal is still an option for you.

If the legal requirements are met and the removal is approved, the case will be reassigned randomly to another judicial officer. The court will then send a "Notice of Judge Reassignment" to the attorney (or party) listed on the Certificate(s) of Representation on file in the case.

If a referee has been assigned to your Family Court case, but you want to have a judge instead, you must serve and file a form called a Notice of Objection to All Referees and meet the legal requirements in MN Statute § 484.70, subd. 6 and MN Rule of General Practice 107.
 

Back to Top

 

How can I find out when a hearing is scheduled?

If you know the case name or court file number, you can look up hearing dates and times in the court records system, either online or at the courthouse in the Family Court Records Center. The Hennepin County District Court also publishes a Daily Calendar of Court Hearings on this website. Information about paternity cases and Order for Protection cases is confidential and not available over the internet according to the law and Rules of Public Access.

You could call the clerk of the Judicial Officer assigned to your case. Or, if it is a child support hearing, call the clerk for magistrates at (612) 348-4946. It is helpful if you have the court file number for the case when you call.

If you don’t know the name of the Judicial Officer assigned to your case, call Family Court Administration at (612) 348-6734. It is helpful if you know the court file number when you contact the court.
 

Back to Top

How do I schedule a hearing date?

Child support cases: Call the clerk for the Child Support Magistrates at (612) 348-4946.

Other family case types: If you are representing yourself and you want to schedule a motion hearing in an existing court case, call the clerk of the Judicial Officer assigned to your case. If you have not yet filed a case, but want to schedule a hearing for a family emergency, read the FAQ on family emergency listed below.

You should be prepared to file your motion papers at the filing counter immediately after you get the hearing date from the clerk.
 

Back to Top

Can I change a hearing date?

Motion or Pre-trial Hearing: To change the date for a motion or pre-trial hearing in Family Court, you usually have to submit a written request to the clerk of the Judicial Officer assigned to your case and explain the reason you need a new date. The judicial officer may require you to contact the other party to see if he or she will agree to the change before the hearing will be rescheduled. See Rule 304.06(b) of the MN General Rules of Practice.

Child Support Hearing: To change the date for a child support hearing scheduled in the Expedited Process (ex pro), you must file a Request for Continuance form. If the other party or parties do not agree to change the date, the child support magistrate or judicial officer will decide if you have a good reason to change the hearing date.

Trial: To change a trial date (i.e., get a continuance), you usually must serve and file a motion (except in emergency situations). See Rule 304.06(a) and Rule 122 of the MN General Rules of Practice.
 

Back to Top

Can I appear at a hearing by phone?

Yes, in some circumstances. Call the clerk of the Judicial Officer assigned to your case to make the request and explain why you are not able to appear in person. The Judicial Officer will decide if you may appear by phone.

If your case involves child support in an "Expedited Process" case heard by a Child Support Magistrate, call the clerk for the child support magistrates at (612) 348-4946.
 

Back to Top

I am late for court. What can I do?

Call your attorney right away. If you are representing yourself, call the clerk of the Judicial Officer assigned to your case or the clerk for child support magistrates at (612) 348-4946. The Judicial Officer will decide if the court will wait for you to arrive before starting the hearing.
 

Back to Top

I missed my hearing. What can I do?

Call your attorney right way. If you are representing yourself, call the clerk of the Judicial Officer assigned to your case to find out what happened at the hearing. You could ask if the hearing can be rescheduled. The court may or may not schedule another hearing. It is helpful if you have the court file number when you call.

If you don’t know the judicial office assigned to your case, call Family Court Administration at (612) 348-6734. It is helpful if you have the court file number when you call.
 

Back to Top

I missed my hearing. How can I find out if a bench warrant was issued?

Bench warrants are issued for some domestic abuse and child support hearings. Please call the Sheriff's Warrant Division at (612) 348-2000 for information. If there has been a bench warrant issued, you must appear in person at Hennepin County Sheriff's Office in downtown Minneapolis.
 

Back to Top

I need an interpreter for court. How do I get one?

As soon as possible, call the clerk of the Judicial Officer assigned to your case to request an interpreter. If it is a child support hearing, call the clerk for the magistrates at (612) 348-4946.
 

Back to Top

Can I bring people with me to court?

Yes, for most court hearings other people can be in the courtroom. Usually, court hearings are open to the public unless there is a law or court order limiting access to the hearing. Paternity cases are not open to the public by law in MN Statutes s. 257.70. Only parties to the case, attorneys, Guardians ad Litem and advocates may sit at the counsel table in the courtroom. If someone disrupts a court proceeding, the judicial officer may ask them to leave the court.

In Family Court, children are rarely allowed in courtrooms, and it is best not to bring children to the courthouse. Please make other arrangements for childcare. In limited situations, a judge may want to talk with an older child involved in a case, but the court would notify the parties well before the hearing date.
 

Back to Top

What is an "Initial Case Management Conference" (ICMC)?

An Initial Case Management Conference (ICMC) is the first time parties meet in court with the Judicial Officer assigned to their case. The ICMC is informal and is usually scheduled within three weeks of filing a divorce (dissolution) or custody case. The parties (and their attorneys, if represented) meet with the assigned judicial officer, and they identify the main issues in the case, things the parties agree to and disagree on, and the next steps to finish the case. The parties may decide to work on settling the issues, but often they leave the ICMC with plans to participate in either a Financial Early Neutral Evaluation (FENE) or a Social Early Neutral Evaluation (SENE) or both.
 

Back to Top

I have an emergency family situation. How do I get a hearing with a judge?

If you or someone in your family is in danger of immediate physical harm, contact the police.
If the “emergency” is not immediate physical harm, but you want protection from someone who is making or has made threats to harm you or your child (or dependent), you may be able to ask the court for an Order for Protection (OFP) or Harassment Restraining Order (HRO) (download OFP and HRO information sheet). The Domestic Abuse Service Center helps people file for OFP, and the Self-Help Center located in the Government Center helps people file for HRO.

If the “emergency” involves another family matter and not immediate physical harm, the Family Court Self-Help Center can help you determine what kind of case or motion papers may be appropriate to file with the court in your particular situation, or if other options or resources are available to you. After completed forms have been filed and depending on the situation, the court may issue an immediate Order, along with a date for a hearing within 1-2 weeks. If the matter is time-sensitive, but there is no immediate danger, the court may decide not to issue an Order that day, but will hold a hearing within a few days.
 

Back to Top

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 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 about the trial before these deadlines pass. It is difficult to get a trial date changed, even if you tell the court you that you were not able to prepare the case on your own.

What to Expect as a Self-Represented Party in a Family Court Trial 
 

How can I get a copy of a transcript from a hearing?

Please visit the Court Records tab on the Hennepin County District Court page.
 

Back to Top

 

How can I change my child support order?

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.
 

Back to Top

The other party is not following a court order. What can I do?

There are different ways to try to enforce different kinds of orders, so you should talk with a lawyer and get legal advice about your options. Generally, the first step is to communicate with the other party directly (unless there is an order for no contact) and ask the party to comply with the order. In some cases, there is an order that requires that parties to use mediation or other alternative dispute resolution before asking the court to get involved, so carefully read the order(s) in your case to make sure you have followed the requirements.

Other resources include: How to Enforce a MN Child Support OrderParenting Time Problems, and Contempt Motion Forms (divorce). The Family Court Self-Help Center can explain how to fill out the court forms and how the court process works, but only a private attorney can give you legal advice on what the best option is for your situation.
 

Back to Top

How can I change (amend) a Judgment and Decree?

If the parties agree to make a change in writing to their divorce or paternity Judgment and Decree, they can use the forms packet for Amended Judgment and Decree in a Dissolution or Paternity Action. If the parties do not agree on the change, the party who wants the change must serve and file a motion with the court and a hearing will be held. You can contact the Family Court Self-Help Center to see what forms are available to start or respond to a motion, and to get referrals for legal advice.
 

Back to Top

How do I appeal an Order or Judgment?

It is very difficult to appeal an order or judgment to the Court of Appeals. It involves several steps and it requires knowing the law and following court rules and procedures. We strongly recommend that you get help and advice from an attorneyBe aware of the strict time limits to appeal an order or judgment. The Family Court Self-Help Center does not provide help with taking a case to the Court of Appeals.

Other resources include the FAQs on Filing an Appeal in a Civil Case and the Appeals Guide at the MN State Law Library, but you should also talk with a lawyer.

Back to Top

 

How can I change my child support order?

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.
 

Back to Top

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 (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" when approved by a judge). 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 or are available on a walk-in basis at the Family Court Self Help Center. There is also an online forms tool called I-CAN! that will create the necessary legal forms by asking you a series of questions. We recommend that you talk to a lawyer to get legal advice about your situation.

Please 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 on a walk-in basis at the Family Court Self Help Center.
 

Back to Top

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.
 

Back to Top

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 FormNOTE: Use of this form does NOT grant custody of a child under Minnesota law.
 

Back to Top

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 Family Court also publishes some forms on the 4th District Court Forms webpage.There are not instructions for all forms, so you may want to contact the Self Help call-center or talk with a lawyer if you have questions.

In Person: Some forms are only available on a walk-in basis at the Self Help Center located on the first 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.
 

Back to Top

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 County District Court webpage. 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.
 

Back to Top

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.
 

Back to Top

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, 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.
Note: 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.
 

Back to Top

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.

What to Expect as a Self-Represented Party in a Family Court Trial
 

Back to Top

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.
 

Back to Top

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.

Please 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.

Back to Top

 

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.

Location:
Family Court Self Help Center
110 South 4th Street, 1st Floor
Minneapolis, MN 55401
[map]

Hours: 
Monday - Friday 
8:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Closed Holidays
 

Back to Top

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.
Signing Judge Hours
Monday - Friday 
8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Closed Holidays

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.
 

Back to Top

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.
 

Back to Top

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.
 

Back to Top

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.
 

Back to Top

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.
 

Back to Top

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.
 

Back to Top

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.
 

Back to Top

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.
 

Back to Top

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.

Back to Top

The law in MN Statute § 518.157 requires that parents who have children together and who are getting divorced must attend a divorce education program if they have contested custody or parenting time issues.
 
If you are a parent filing for divorce in Hennepin County and you do not agree on custody or parenting time, you must attend one of these 4th District certified education programs: If you want to attend a different divorce education program, please contact the judicial officer assigned to your case to find out if they will accept the certificate of attendance from that program.
Hennepin Family Justice Center
4th District Family Court
Family Justice Center (FJC)
110 South 4th St., Rm. 600
Minneapolis, MN 55401  Map »

Phone: (612) 348-6734
Fax: (612) 596-9309
Family Court Directory

Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday – Friday
Closed Holidays

Going to Court »  parking, transit, and more...