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What to Expect: Motions

Motions and Other Family Court Actions
(except child support)

A Motion is a paper you serve on the other party and file with the court, asking the Judge or Referee to decide an issue.

By Court Order, in Hennepin County all family court motions prepared by a person not represented by an attorney must be screened by a Family Law Facilitator before a court date is set.  If your motion is reviewed and approved, it does not mean you will get what you requested in your motion.  The Judge will grant or deny your motion based on the law, the evidence, and the legal arguments of the parties.

If you want to file a motion for custody, parenting time (visitation), contempt (to enforce an existing family court order), or paternity, you will watch a 25-minute video and then be given the forms to fill out at home. The video explains how to complete and serve the forms correctly.  You can view the video between the hours of 8:00 am and 2:30 pm, Monday through Friday at the Family Court Self Help Center.  You may also watch the video online by clicking "How to File a Motion".

If you have a complicated situation, it may be necessary to schedule an appointment with a Family Law Facilitator for a more in-depth review of your situation before you can get the forms. The Self-Help Center may also refer you to a lawyer for legal advice and help to figure out what you need to do in your case.

When you come to the Self Help Center, you must bring a copy of the court order you wish to enforce or change.  If you do not have a copy of the Order, you will be asked to purchase a copy of the Order for $5.00 at the court Records Center (Room 600 in the Family Justice Center).  For example, if you want to ask the court to change something about custody or parenting time, bring with you a copy of all court orders for custody and parenting time. This could be a Divorce Decree, a Paternity Order, or an order issued after a Motion hearing.  If you are responding to a motion, you must bring a copy of the court order and a copy of the motion that was served on you.

After you complete the motion forms (usually at home), you must have your forms screened by a Family Law Facilitator.  See Mandatory Motion Screening for more details on the screening process.

At the screening appointment, the facilitator will review the completed forms and answer questions you have about the process. This meeting will satisfy the requirement that your motion be reviewed by a facilitator before a court date is set.


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