Minnesota law does not require spouses to live separately in order for a divorce to start. Knowing that divorce is a process that can take several months, or longer, means that it may be very uncomfortable, or in some cases, unsafe, for spouses to remain living together while a divorce proceeding is pending. In some cases however, it is just not possible to have the spouses live separately before the divorce is completed (no other place to go, need to stay home for the kids, etc.). In some cases, a spouse may even deny that a divorce is even an option, and may refuse to discuss a divorce at all when the topic of divorce, separation, child custody, is brought up. By refusing to move out, and refusing to talk with his/her spouse, the uncooperative spouse forces the requesting spouse to consider the option of filing and serving divorce papers (a measure which does not require the consent of both spouses). By serving and filing divorce papers, the Court then becomes involved, and a divorce can be awarded even over the objection of the uncooperative spouse. Before the divorce can be granted however, the requesting spouse must choose to either move out, live together with an uncooperative spouse, or ask a Judge to quickly make a temporary decision as to which spouse should live in the house while the divorce is pending. It is not always possible, or wise, to leave your home, even temporarily, so that you can start a divorce. Nor is it always wise to continue living together in an environment where tension and potential for conflict is high. It is therefore worth considering the option which the law affords you, to have the Court issue a temporary Order, awarding the house, among other things, to one party, before the divorce is final. In Minnesota, it is possible for a court to temporarily award the following relief:

  • Temporary custody and parenting time regarding the minor children of the parties;
  • Temporary maintenance of either spouse;
  • Temporary child support for the children of the parties;
  • Temporary costs and reasonable attorney fees;
  • Award the temporary use and possession, exclusive or otherwise, of the family home, furniture, household goods, automobiles, and other property of the parties;
  • Restrain one or both parties from transferring, encumbering, concealing, or disposing of property except in the usual course of business or for the necessities of life, and to account to the court for all such transfers, encumbrances, dispositions, and expenditures made after the order is served or communicated to the party restrained in open court;
  • Restrain one or both parties from harassing, vilifying, mistreating, molesting, disturbing the peace, or restraining the liberty of the other party or the children of the parties;
  • Restrain one or both parties from removing any minor child of the parties from the jurisdiction of the court;
  • Exclude a party from the family home of the parties or from the home of the other party; and
  • Require one or both of the parties to perform or to not perform such additional acts as will facilitate the just and speedy disposition of the proceeding, or will protect the parties or their children from physical or emotional harm.

See Minn. Stat. Sec. 518.131 subd. 1. Before making a determination, Courts will usually encourage spouses to make settlement efforts when seeking temporary relief. Settlement efforts are even required under the Court Rules (See Rule 303.03(c)), but, settlement usually requires discussion or at least communication. When one party refuses to communicate, it is still possible to seek temporary relief before the divorce process is completed. Parties considering a request for temporary relief, should consider the risk to personal safety, the best interests of minor children, and the risk of loss of property in the event a spouse refuses to leave the house when a divorce is filed.

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