The Legal Side of Family Transition
Most people who have children and are going through a family transition like divorce or separation work through the legal system to formalize and finalize that change. In order for you to feel more in control of the family transition, it’s helpful for you to understand the legal side of that process.
While they are not a substitution for legal advice, the resources on this site offer insight into the legal process, paternity, child support, and more. Please note that some of these resources just pertain to those seeking a divorce or separation through the Minnesota court system. Check with the judicial branch in your state for more state-specific information as needed.
The Legal Process for Divorce or Separation
How to Start a Divorce Videos — Minnesota Judicial Branch — Free downloadable videos on the divorce process in Minnesota.
Annulment and Legal Separation — Minnesota Judicial Branch — Find out about the differences between an annulment and legal separation, and a legal separation and a divorce.
Divorce — Minnesota Judicial Branch — Divorces can be a complicated, lengthy process. Get to know the basics, watch a video about the process, access forms, and more at this website.
Legal Assistance and Dispute Resolution
Legal Advice Clinics and Self-Help Centers — Minnesota Judicial Branch — In Minnesota, Self-Help Center workstations are available in all county courthouses and a limited number of public libraries. Find the contact info for the center nearest you.
Deciding Which Attorney to Hire — University of Minnesota Extension — There is a lot to consider before hiring an attorney. Get tips to ensure that you hire the right attorney for you and your family.
Controlling Attorney Costs — University of Minnesota Extension — Paying for an attorney can be very expensive. Find out about typical attorney costs and how to save money during the process.
Alternative Dispute Resolution: Frequently Asked Questions — Minnesota Judicial Branch — Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) can save you and the courts time and money. Learn more about ADR, “neutrals," how to file complaints, the ADR Ethics Board, and more.
Family Court Process: Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) — Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid and Legal Services State Support — Get the basics about Early Neutral Evaluation, a dispute resolution process that can save you time and money during the divorce process.
ENE Programs and Websites — Minnesota Judicial Branch — Early Neutral Evaluation programs are operating in all 10 judicial districts of Minnesota. Contact one of the programs offered in your area.
Family Mediation: A How-To Guide — Mediation Center — This comprehensive guide reviews the pros and cons of mediation, how to choose the best mediator for your family, what to expect during the process, and more.
Child Custody and Parenting Time
Understanding the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act (PDF) — MN Statute 518E: This resource provides an overview of the new chapter of the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act, including information regarding custodial rights and responsibilities.
Child Custody and Parenting Time — Minnesota Judicial Branch — Get the basics, as well as forms, related to child custody and parenting time in Minnesota.
Making Custody a Win-Win — University of Minnesota Extension — What makes the best custody arrangements for your children? See questions to explore for your own situation.
Can Custody Be Changed? — University of Minnesota Extension — Custody can be difficult to change but it is possible. Find out more.
Parenting Time (Visitation) and Making a Parenting Plan — Mid-Minnesota Legal Aide and Legal Services State Support — Reviews the basics on parenting time and tips for making a parenting plan.
A Parental Guide to Making Child-Focused Parenting Time Decisions — Minnesota Supreme Court Advisory Task Force on Visitation and Child Support Enforcement — Official report from the task force that describes the issues and offers guidance on what parents can do to help the situation, including parenting time considerations for children at different ages and stages. English | español | Lus Hmoob | Soomaali
Creating a Parenting Plan — University of Minnesota Extension — Parenting plans are essential tools for coparents in keeping their children’s best interests at heart after a family transition. Get tools, like We agree: Creating a parenting plan, and guidance on creating a parenting plan for your own family. Some resources in Spanish.
Relative and Third Party Custody and Parenting Time — LawHelpMN.org — Website provides links to resources that will help relatives and other, non-biological parents navigate issues related to custody and parenting time
Minnesota Statute 518.17 — The Office of the Revisor of Statutes — In Minnesota, the court makes custody decisions based on what is in the best interests for the children involved. See the Minnesota law for yourself.
Paternity and Unmarried Parent Resources
Paternity — Minnesota Judicial Branch — Find out the basics on being a “legal” father in Minnesota, access the forms to do so, and more on this website.
Unmarried Father’s Guide to Paternity, Custody, Parenting Time, and Child Support in Minnesota — Central Minnesota Legal Services — Basic information about paternity, custody, child support, and parenting time for unmarried fathers in Minnesota.
Being a Legal Father: Parentage Information for Mothers and Fathers — Minnesota Department of Human Services — This guide reviews the differences between legal father and biological father, and discusses rights and supporting documentation. English | español | Lus Hmoob | Soomaali
Paternity and Child Custody — Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid and Legal Services State Support — Reviews how paternity is established, why it’s important, and how it relates to child custody. English | Lus Hmoob
Rights and Responsibilities of Unmarried Parents — Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid — Handbook that reviews legal parenthood, the process getting recognition of parentage (ROP), and more.
Child Support and Spousal Maintenance
Child Support — Minnesota Judicial Branch — Child support can be complicated. Get to know the basics, access the forms, and more at this website.
Child Support—Minnesota Department of Human Services — Website dedicated to Minnesota’s child support program has links for forms, videos on the process, and more. You may also be interested in finding out about Child Support: Common Terms or Child Support in Minnesota: Facts and Figures.
Understanding Child Support: A Handbook for Parents — Minnesota Department of Human Services — General information about Minnesota’s child support program. English | español | Lus Hmoob | Soomaali
Child Support Basics — Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid — Handbook reviews the child support basics, process for establishing child support, process for changing an existing child support order, and the system for enforcing a child support order.
Minnesota Child Support Guidelines Calculator — Minnesota Department of Human Services — Use this calculator to estimate the amount of child support the court may order in your case. (Valid through Minnesota courts only.)
Child Support: County Agencies — Minnesota Department of Human Services — Find contact information for the child support agency in your Minnesota county.
Changes in Child Support Over Time — University of Minnesota Extension — Find out about the circumstances under which child support can be changed or modified.
Understanding Spousal Maintenance — University of Minnesota Extension — Spousal maintenance, also called alimony or spousal support, is money paid to an ex-spouse or partner. Explore the situations for which this type of support is typically granted.
Additional Legal Information
List of Legal Terms (PDF) — University of Minnesota Extension — Get to know the common legal terms that are used during the divorce or separation process.
Fee Waiver (IFP) — Minnesota Judicial Branch — Understand the basics of legal fee waivers, get the forms needed to apply for a waiver, and more. Note that if you are granted an IFP, you can register for a Parents Forever™ course for free! See more at Applying for a Reduced Fee.
Immigrants, Marriage, and Divorce in Minnesota — Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid and Legal Services State Support — When you are an immigrant, marriage and divorce may have an extra layer of complexity. See an overview of the law on this fact sheet.
FAQs on Same Sex Marriage and Divorce — Minnesota Judicial Branch — Get to know the facts on the Minnesota law.
The Rights of Teen Parents — Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid and Legal Services State Support — Being a teen is stressful enough; add a child into the mix and things can get complicated fast. Get to know your rights as a teen parent with this fact sheet.
Minnesota Legal Advice Online — Online assistance from volunteer attorneys in Minnesota.
Self-Help Center — Minnesota Judicial Branch — Comprehensive website intended for people who are representing themselves in a Minnesota district court.
LawHelpMN.org — Organization that helps low-income individuals solve legal problems.
The Financial Side of Family Transition — University of Minnesota Extension — Get tools and information on specific financial situations that you may encounter after a family transition.
A Guide to Child Support and Spousal Maintenance Cost-of-Living Adjustments — Office on the Economic Status of Women — This guide helps parents obtain a cost-of-living adjustment to a child support or spousal support maintenance order in Minnesota.