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Extension > Family > Parents Forever™ > For families > Resources for families > Taking Care of Yourself > The Legal Side of Family Transition

Taking Care of Yourself

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 VideosMinnesota Judicial Branch — Free downloadable videos on the divorce process in Minnesota.

Annulment and Legal SeparationMinnesota Judicial Branch — Find out about the differences between an annulment and legal separation, and a legal separation and a divorce.

DivorceMinnesota 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.

Divorce (Dissolution)LawHelpMN — Find links for helpful divorce resources in Minnesota. Includes the handbook: Getting a Divorce: A Basic Guide to Minnesota Law.

Legal Assistance and Dispute Resolution

Legal Advice Clinics and Self-Help CentersMinnesota 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 HireUniversity 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 CostsUniversity 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 QuestionsMinnesota 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 WebsitesMinnesota 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 GuideMediation 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 TimeMinnesota Judicial Branch — Get the basics, as well as forms, related to child custody and parenting time in Minnesota.

Making Custody a Win-WinUniversity 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.

What Is a Guardian Ad Litem?Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid and Legal Services State Support — Find out about what a guardian ad litem is and what they do on this fact sheet. English | español

Parenting Time (Visitation) and Making a Parenting PlanMid-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 DecisionsMinnesota 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 — Website provides links to resources that will help relatives and other, non-biological parents navigate issues related to custody and parenting time

Minnesota Statute 518.17The 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

PaternityMinnesota 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 MinnesotaCentral 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 FathersMinnesota 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 CustodyMid-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 ParentsMid-Minnesota Legal Aid — Handbook that reviews legal parenthood, the process getting recognition of parentage (ROP), and more.

Child Support and Spousal Maintenance

Child SupportMinnesota Judicial Branch — Child support can be complicated. Get to know the basics, access the forms, and more at this website.

Child SupportMinnesota 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 ParentsMinnesota Department of Human Services — General information about Minnesota’s child support program. English | español | Lus Hmoob | Soomaali

Child Support BasicsMid-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 CalculatorMinnesota 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 AgenciesMinnesota Department of Human Services — Find contact information for the child support agency in your Minnesota county.

Changes in Child Support Over TimeUniversity of Minnesota ExtensionFind out about the circumstances under which child support can be changed or modified.

Understanding Spousal MaintenanceUniversity 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 MinnesotaMid-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 DivorceMinnesota Judicial Branch — Get to know the facts on the Minnesota law.

The Rights of Teen ParentsMid-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.

Related resources

Minnesota Legal Advice Online — Online assistance from volunteer attorneys in Minnesota.

Self-Help CenterMinnesota Judicial Branch — Comprehensive website intended for people who are representing themselves in a Minnesota district court. — Organization that helps low-income individuals solve legal problems.

The Financial Side of Family TransitionUniversity 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 AdjustmentsOffice 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.

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