How to Modify an Existing Divorce Decree in Minnesota if Children Are Out of State

By Rebecca Hayley

A divorce decree ordered in Minnesota is recognized and enforced in all 50 states. When one or both parents leaves Minnesota, jurisdiction over modifying the provisions related to custody and parenting time is determined by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. To begin a modification of decree, you first must establish jurisdiction.

Step 1

Review sections 202 and 203 of the UCCJEA or the Minnesota equivalent statute Chapter 518D to determine jurisdiction over modification of custody and parenting time. Minnesota will relinquish jurisdiction only when the children and both parents no longer live in Minnesota. When one parent still resides in Minnesota, the original Minnesota court ordering the divorce decree still retains jurisdiction.

Step 2

Gather the evidence required to prove a substantial change in circumstances justifying your request for modification. Minnesota orders for child support made after 1983 include a cost-of-living adjustment clause, allowing for a modification every three years without a significant change in circumstances. But if you want to change your support amount before this period, or you want to change a custody or visitation provision, you need to show a material change in circumstance. A significant change in income or relocation might be reason for a modification.

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Step 3

Prepare an affidavit in support and a motion for modification specific to either child support, custody, parenting time or the appropriate provision you wish to change. The forms may be found on the Minnesota court website or be prepared with the assistance of a third party-document preparation service.

Step 4

File your motion and supporting affidavit with the clerk of the court in the county where you lived when your divorce was granted, provided Minnesota retains jurisdiction. When another court outside Minnesota has jurisdiction, contact the clerk of the court for the appropriate county to inquire about additional steps to file in that jurisdiction. Rules of civil procedure govern the filing of pleadings and vary by jurisdiction.

Step 5

Serve a copy of the motion for modification and supporting affidavit on your former spouse. Minnesota procedural rules only require personal service for initial divorce proceedings not modifications, allowing you to serve your former spouse by mail, email or fax rather than by process server.

Step 6

Prepare and file a request for hearing on your motion with the clerk of the court. The clerk will set a hearing date and give you a notice of hearing when you file in person. Serve a copy of the notice of hearing on your former spouse in the same manner as the motion and affidavit were served.

Step 7

Attend your hearing and answer any questions from the court truthfully. The court will notify you if you need to prepare and submit a written order of modification reflecting the order of the court.

Step 8

Prepare and file an order of modification which reflects the orders made at the hearing, upon the request of the court. Do not sign the order: The judge will sign the order, and the court will mail copies to all parties. Some courts will prepare the order when all parties are pro se -- not represented by an attorney. For clarification on who must prepare the order, speak with the clerk of the court in your jurisidiction.

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