Minnesota is a “no fault” divorce state.  To the best of my knowledge, most, if not all states in the United States are no fault divorce states.

What this means is that in a Minnesota divorce proceeding, one does not have to prove that the other spouse is at fault before a divorce can be granted.  One does not have to prove that a spouse did something “wrong.”

Historically, one was not always entitled to a divorce.  One had to first prove to the court that one’s spouse did something wrong–in other words, that the spouse was “at fault.”  Typically, the person argued that the spouse had committed adultery, was a habitual inebriate, or had engaged in physical or mental cruelty.  If one could prove one of these claims to the satisfaction of the court, then one could obtain a divorce.

Today this is no longer the case.  In a Minnesota Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, all one needs to say is that there has been an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage relationship.  Generally speaking, whether the other spouse has committed adultery or is a habitual drunk is irrelevant to the divorce.  You do not need a reason or a justification for the divorce.  Just the fact that you want to get divorced is sufficient reason.

However, there are Minnesota divorce cases where adultery or habitual drunkenness is a factor.  For example, if a spouse has spent a significant amount of marital funds on his or her girlfriend or boyfriend, these funds are recoverable in the divorce proceeding.  If a spouse has a new boyfriend or girlfriend, this can be relevant to the issue of child custody and parenting time.  Usually it is not, but if the new boyfriend or girlfriend is prone towards emotional or physical bullying or violence, or drunkenness, this can impact the children and it is relevant.

If you have questions about this, or any other Minnesota divorce issues, call Fiskum Law at (952) 270-7700.