Jurisdiction is a legal term for the location where a case should be filed with the court.
There are two types of jurisdiction:

  • Subject matter jurisdiction means a court has the ability to make a decision about the substance of the case.
  • Personal jurisdiction means a court has the ability to make a decision about the people involved in the case.

A court must have both subject matter and personal jurisdiction to decide any case, including a divorce.

In divorce, the court will look to Minnesota Statutes Sections 518.07 and 518.09 to determine if Minnesota has jurisdiction. The statute requires that one of the spouses must have lived in Minnesota for at least 180 days before filing the divorce. If one of the spouses is in the armed forces and has been stationed in Minnesota for the last 180 days, Minnesota has jurisdiction over the divorce. Identical rules apply for same sex couples, with one exception. If the couple has left Minnesota and now lives in a state that does not recognize same sex divorce, they can a divorce in Minnesota if they were married in Minnesota (where same sex marriage became legal August 1, 2013).

Parents should understand that issues of jurisdiction can complicate their divorce when it comes to custody of children. If one parent has moved out of state with the children, it could be that Minnesota courts are no longer the appropriate place to decide child custody issues. If the children have lived outside of the state for six months or move, Minnesota might decline to hear a custody matter.


Start the divorce process today

By joining as a free member, you will receive:
  • Access to our flat-fee legal documents and services
  • Access to our library of resources and how-to articles
  • Access to our professional resources to provide assistance when you need it

Free Registraion


With your free diyvorce membership, you will receive access to a document assembly system that is developed and used by top Minnesota divorce lawyers. First, you choose the package of documents you need. This could be the documents required for a full divorce settlement or a smaller set of documents needed at any stage of a divorce. For example, you can purchase only the documents to start your divorce, or only to respond to a divorce, or just the documents needed prior to a hearing. As a member, you will have access to all package options.