No Fault Divorce" Does Not Equate to "Divorce on Demand."
Although Minnesota is a "No-fault" state, the Minnesota Supreme Court has held that "No fault divorce" does not equate to "divorce on demand." [Richter v. Richter, 624 N.W.2d 490, 493 (Minn.Ct.App. 2001)].
Burden of Proof is on the Petitioner.
In order to obtain a divorce in Minnesota, the Petitioner bears a burden of proof, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the marriage is irretrievably broken. [See Minnesota Statute section 518.06, Subdivision 1].
If one party denies under oath that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the Court may not grant the divorce without finding irretrievable breakdown, after a hearing and consideration of all relevant factors, including but not limited to: 1) the circumstances that gave rise to the commencement of the proceedings; and 2) the prospect of reconciliation. [Minnesota Statute section 518.13, Subdivision 2]. The Court may not find irretrievable breakdown as long as a reasonable prospect of reconciliation exists. [Id].
Additional Evidence Required to Support Finding of "Irretrievable Breakdown."
In addition, a finding of irretrievable breakdown must be supported by evidence that either a) the parties have lived separate and apart for a period of not less than 180 days immediately preceding the date of service of the divorce petition; OR b) there is "serious marital discord adversely affecting the attitude of one or both of the parties toward the marriage." [Minnesota Statute section 518.13, Subdivision 2].
All that being said, be aware that contesting the divorce will add to the duration and expense of the case. Contesting the divorce itself can buy you some time during which to pursue reconciliation, and can be the leverage to obtain your spouse's agreement to therapy or other reconciliation efforts, but at the end of the day, a persistent party will be able to obtain the divorce.
At the same time, if your marriage is very important to you, contesting the divorce may be a way to save it. I have seen many reconciliations over the years, even in the worst of circumstances. It's uncommon, but it does happen, and is always wonderful to see.
So in conclusion, if you want to stop your divorce and save your marriage, don't give up, because you have the right to a trial on this issue, and because of the tardiness of the courts, by insisting on your right to trial on this issue, you can thereby buy yourself as much as 1 to 2 years during which to save your marriage.
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