What Happens in Minnesota If a Divorce Becomes Defaulted?

By Beverly Bird

In Minnesota, a divorce defaults when one spouse refuses or neglects to become legally involved in the process. If he is served with a divorce petition and does nothing, the divorce will eventually default. This generally means that the court will give the spouse who filed for divorce everything she requested. Ignoring divorce papers does not mean the divorce will go away. It usually means the divorce will happen more easily, because one spouse is not involved to contest any of its terms.

Time to Answer

When a spouse is served with divorce papers in Minnesota, those papers include a summons. The summons informs the spouse that he has 30 days to file an answer with the court. An answer is a legal document telling the court whether he agrees or disagrees with the information in his spouse’s petition. It also tells the court what he wants from the divorce; his spouse’s petition tells the court what she wants, such as custody of the children or all the marital property.

Request for Default

When the 30-day period expires, and if the responding spouse has not filed an answer, the petitioning spouse can ask the court to enter a default judgment against him. She can complete a default scheduling request, available on the state’s judicial website or at any county courthouse. She then submits the request to the court, along with a copy of her petition, a proposed judgment of divorce, which would give her everything she requested in her petition, and a short legal brief called "Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law." This brief summarizes the divorce litigation. In a default situation, it would simply say that she legally served her spouse with a copy of her petition and he did nothing in response. The brief would also state why the court should grant the divorce and give her everything she asked for. This is an easy matter of quoting Minnesota’s divorce default statutes, available online or at a law library.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Results of Default

When spouses have no children together, the court will often not even require the petitioning spouse to appear before a judge after submitting her default paperwork. However, if children and custody are involved, she may have to attend a hearing. The judge will ask a few questions. In most cases, he will grant everything the petitioning spouse asks for in her petition. The defending spouse gives up his right to make his own requests when he declines to answer the petition. In rare circumstances where spouses have considerable assets or debts, a judge might grant only the divorce and reserve or delay a decision regarding property or support for a subsequent trial. This would require the filing spouse to reopen the litigation at a later date. She would have to try once again to get her ex-spouse involved by serving him with notice that she’s done so. If he again fails to respond, the court would probably grant her the relief she requested in her initial divorce petition.


If the responding spouse changes his mind about not participating, or if he had a valid reason for not filing an answer, he can petition the court to set aside or vacate his spouse’s default judgment. However, to be successful, he would have to act quickly; the more time that elapses, the less likely it is that a judge will show any sympathy for him.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
What Happens if a Divorce Respondent Doesn't Answer in Missouri?


Related articles

The Response to a Petition for Dissolution

Getting served with a petition for dissolution or divorce is unnerving at best, even if you're expecting it. You may have less than a month to react and file a response with the court – usually about 20 days. If you do nothing, your spouse will probably be able to end your marriage by default. This means she'll get much – if not all – of what she asked the court for in her petition.

Can You Just Not Do Anything in a Divorce if You Are the Respondent?

Your spouse is required to serve you with divorce papers after she files for divorce, including her divorce petition, or complaint, and a summons. Generally, the summons lists deadlines for you to respond to the petition or provides scheduling information for your initial appearance in court. If you choose to ignore the summons, the court still may enter a judgment against you.

Can You Refuse to Give Your Spouse a Divorce in Georgia?

Your spouse may file for divorce, believing the marriage is over, but even if you aren’t ready to divorce just yet, it’s really not possible to refuse to divorce your spouse in any state, including Georgia. You can slow down the divorce process, but eventually the divorce will go through, even if your spouse has to refile the case to make it happen.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

How Many Days Does a Respondent Have in a Divorce in New York State?

Like most civil litigation, a divorce in New York state begins with the filing of a civil complaint and summons in the ...

Can the Opposing Party File for Decree of Divorce?

An opposing party in a divorce case is called the respondent, because he responds to the initial petition that begins ...

The Time Frame to Adjudicate Divorce Default in New York

A default divorce occurs when the defendant receives notice that his spouse has filed for divorce and he does nothing ...

Default Judgments in Kansas in a Divorce

By the time you get ready to file for divorce, you and your spouse may not be getting along well enough to cooperate ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED