How to Block a Motion to Transfer a Divorce Proceeding in Minnesota

By Mary Jane Freeman

The time leading up to filing for divorce is often fraught with anxiety, nervousness, uncertainty and an overwhelming desire to "get it over with." Once you file your divorce paperwork with the court, the last thing you want to do is start all over again, especially with a different courthouse located elsewhere. If your spouse files a motion to have your divorce proceedings transferred to a different location, you don't have go along with the change. In Minnesota, you can fight the request by challenging your spouse's motion in court.

Filing for Divorce

You may file for dissolution of marriage in Minnesota if either you or your spouse have lived in the state for at least 180 days immediately prior to filing. Once residency is established, spouses typically file for divorce in the county where they live, known as the "venue." Typically, this is a straightforward decision because divorcing spouses often live in the same county. However, if you and your spouse live in separate counties, you have the option of filing for divorce in either county of residence. However, keep in mind that, under Minnesota law, divorce proceedings usually remain in the county where the petition was originally filed, even if neither of you continues to live there.

Motion to Change Venue

Once you file for divorce, your spouse may petition the court for a change of venue in an attempt to have the divorce proceedings changed to a different location. When this happens, he must notify you of the request by serving you with a copy of the transfer motion. Once you receive it, you must respond to the motion appropriately and appear at the court hearing, where the court will hear arguments for and against changing the divorce proceeding to a different location.

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When Transfer Is Proper

Minnesota courts will change the venue of a divorce case under limited circumstances. Under Minnesota law, the court may transfer venue if both spouses consent to the change, if an impartial hearing cannot be had in the county where the petition was filed or if a transfer is necessary for the parties' convenience or to promote justice in the case. As the party requesting the transfer, your spouse has the burden of proving why the transfer is necessary. For example, he could argue the divorce was filed in the wrong county; therefore, the court lacks jurisdiction over the case. Or he could argue that the location is inconvenient because he has custody of the children and lives more than 100 miles away, making travel back and forth difficult and disruptive to the children's schedules.

What Happens Next

As the party who filed for divorce, as long as you filed your divorce petition in the appropriate county, you can argue that venue is proper according to Minnesota law. As a result, the divorce should be proceed in the venue where it was originally filed. However, if your spouse is successful in persuading the court to change the venue, you are not required to pay a new filing fee to the new courthouse when the case is transferred.

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