Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

HF 1348

as introduced - 89th Legislature (2015 - 2016) Posted on 03/17/2015 12:41pm

KEY: stricken = removed, old language.
underscored = added, new language.
Line numbers 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5
1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 2.25 2.26 2.27 2.28 2.29 2.30 2.31 2.32 2.33 2.34 2.35 2.36 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 3.21 3.22 3.23 3.24 3.25 3.26 3.27 3.28 3.29 3.30 3.31 3.32 3.33 3.34 3.35 3.36 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 4.21 4.22 4.23 4.24 4.25 4.26 4.27 4.28 4.29 4.30 4.31 4.32 4.33 4.34 4.35 4.36 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 5.9 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 5.16 5.17 5.18 5.19 5.20 5.21 5.22 5.23 5.24 5.25 5.26 5.27 5.28 5.29 5.30 5.31 5.32 5.33 5.34 5.35 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 6.9 6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13 6.14 6.15 6.16 6.17 6.18 6.19 6.20 6.21 6.22 6.23 6.24 6.25 6.26 6.27 6.28 6.29 6.30 6.31 6.32 6.33 6.34 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 7.8 7.9 7.10 7.11 7.12 7.13 7.14 7.15 7.16 7.17 7.18 7.19 7.20 7.21 7.22 7.23 7.24 7.25 7.26 7.27 7.28 7.29 7.30 7.31 7.32 7.33 7.34 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 8.8 8.9 8.10 8.11 8.12 8.13 8.14 8.15 8.16 8.17 8.18 8.19 8.20 8.21 8.22 8.23 8.24 8.25 8.26 8.27 8.28 8.29 8.30 8.31 8.32 8.33 8.34 8.35 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 9.8 9.9 9.10 9.11 9.12 9.13 9.14
9.15 9.16 9.17 9.18 9.19 9.20 9.21 9.22 9.23 9.24 9.25 9.26
9.27 9.28 9.29 9.30 9.31

A bill for an act
relating to family law; establishing a cooperative private divorce program;
appropriating money; proposing coding for new law in Minnesota Statutes,
chapter 518.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

Section 1.

new text begin [518.80] COOPERATIVE PRIVATE DIVORCE PROGRAM.
new text end

new text begin Subdivision 1. new text end

new text begin Commissioner. new text end

new text begin For purposes of this section, "commissioner" means
the commissioner of Bureau of Mediation Services.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 2. new text end

new text begin Establishment. new text end

new text begin The commissioner shall establish a cooperative private
divorce program as provided in this section.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 3. new text end

new text begin Requirements. new text end

new text begin The cooperative private divorce program must, at a
minimum:
new text end

new text begin (1) be made available on the Bureau of Mediation Services Web site;
new text end

new text begin (2) make available the notices and instructions provided under subdivisions 9 and 10
to the participants of the program;
new text end

new text begin (3) allow participants of the program to electronically complete and submit to
the commissioner an intent to divorce and declaration of divorce as provided under
subdivision 11;
new text end

new text begin (4) require a separate unique login and password for each participant to access the
program;
new text end

new text begin (5) provide a notification system that automatically contacts one participant when
the other participant accesses the program;
new text end

new text begin (6) provide a list of supportive services and service providers that may be helpful
to participants;
new text end

new text begin (7) provide a method to authenticate the identities of the signatories of the forms
required under subdivision 11;
new text end

new text begin (8) employ security measures to protect the confidentiality and personal information
of the participants submitting information through the program; and
new text end

new text begin (9) encrypt all data sent and received through the program Web site.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 4. new text end

new text begin Residency requirement. new text end

new text begin Married participants seeking dissolution
under this section qualify for the cooperative private divorce program if the residency
requirements under section 518.07 have been met by the participants.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 5. new text end

new text begin Procedure. new text end

new text begin (a) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, married
participants who meet the criteria under subdivision 4 may terminate their marital status
through the cooperative private divorce program made available on the Bureau of
Mediation Services Web site by:
new text end

new text begin (1) signing and submitting the intent to divorce under subdivision 11; and
new text end

new text begin (2) completing, signing, and submitting the declaration of divorce under subdivision
11 at least 90 days after, but not more than two years after, the intent to divorce was
signed by both participants.
new text end

new text begin (b) Upon receipt of the completed declaration of divorce, the commissioner shall
issue a certificate of marital termination at least 90 days after, but not more than two years
after, a completed intent to divorce form was submitted to the commissioner through the
online cooperative private divorce program.
new text end

new text begin (c) A certificate of marital termination issued under this section completely
terminates the marital status of the participants.
new text end

new text begin (d) Upon receipt of a declaration of divorce, the commissioner shall issue a
certificate of marital termination that is accessible to each participant through the online
cooperative private divorce program. The certificate of marital termination is conclusive
evidence of the divorce.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 6. new text end

new text begin Certain agreements. new text end

new text begin (a) Any agreement made by the participants as
part of the declaration of divorce that allocates expenses for their child or children is an
enforceable contract between the participants under section 518.1705.
new text end

new text begin (b) Agreements recorded in a declaration of divorce are a divorce or separation
instrument under section 71(b)(1)(A) of the Internal Revenue Code.
new text end

new text begin (c) Any issue that is not specifically addressed by the participants in the declaration
of divorce agreement is considered to be reserved for future agreement by the participants
or de novo review by the court.
new text end

new text begin (d) The commissioner may establish procedures for unmarried parents who have
executed a Recognition of Parentage, or who have been subject to an adjudication of
parentage, to have access to the cooperative private divorce program to record agreements
about their children.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 7. new text end

new text begin Modification. new text end

new text begin Any agreement made by the participants in their declaration
of divorce may be modified at any time after a declaration of divorce agreement is
submitted to the commissioner through the cooperative private divorce program, if both
participants agree to the amendment and submit an amended declaration of divorce.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 8. new text end

new text begin Court involvement. new text end

new text begin (a) At any time prior to the submission of a
declaration of divorce, participants in a cooperative private divorce may initiate an action
for marriage dissolution under this chapter in district court. Any action under this chapter
pending in district court must be resolved or dismissed before participants may submit
a declaration of divorce.
new text end

new text begin (b) Cooperative private divorce agreements contained in a declaration of divorce
may be enforced, modified, or vacated by the district court, or the court may address
issues that were reserved by the participants, according to the provisions of this chapter.
The court shall apply this chapter to a declaration of divorce as if it were a judgment and
decree. For application of section 518.145, the one-year time limit for relief begins the
date the certificate of marital termination was issued by the Bureau of Mediation Services.
new text end

new text begin (c) For purposes of complying with a federal or state law that requires an order or
judgment and decree of a court, the district court shall issue an order confirming the
declaration of divorce and certificate of marital termination upon petition by a participant
of the cooperative private divorce program.
new text end

new text begin (d) By submitting a declaration of divorce to the court, each participant consents to
the continuing personal jurisdiction of the Minnesota courts as to all matters related to
the declaration of divorce.
new text end

new text begin (e) A participant in a cooperative private divorce may initiate an action to enforce,
modify, vacate, or obtain judicial confirmation of the declaration of divorce in district
court, or ask the court to address issues that were reserved by the participants, by making
personal service of a petition on the other participant. The action to enforce, modify,
vacate, address reserved issues, or confirm the declaration of divorce may be venued in a
Minnesota county where either participant resided at the time the certificate of marital
termination was issued. After an initial action to enforce, modify, vacate, address reserved
issues, or obtain judicial confirmation of a declaration of divorce initiated by personal
service of a petition, further court action may be initiated by motion in the initial court case.
new text end

new text begin (f) If the participants in a cooperative private divorce expressly state that their
agreement about spousal support is final and may not be modified by a court, then courts
thereafter lack jurisdiction to modify the agreement for changed circumstances. Section
518.145, relating to reopening awards for mistake or misconduct, applies to agreements
about spousal maintenance if there is a subsequent court action to modify or vacate
a declaration of divorce.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 9. new text end

new text begin Notices; introduction to private divorce; form.
new text end

new text begin NOTICE: Introduction to Cooperative Private Divorce
new text end

new text begin You are considering obtaining a Cooperative Private Divorce rather than going to
court to get divorced. Cooperative Private Divorce is a simplified procedure for couples
who want to avoid the expense, emotional strain, and arbitrary time frames that often
accompany adversarial court proceedings. To obtain a Cooperative Private Divorce you
will need to reach an agreement with your spouse about the issues in your divorce. Many
public and private services are available to help you.
new text end

new text begin The Cooperative Private Divorce process is based on the assumption that most
people have the capacity to divorce with respect and fairness if they are supported in that
direction. To that end, a Cooperative Private Divorce differs in two important ways from a
court divorce. First, the two of you have total control over your divorce and no one will
oversee or scrutinize the decisions you make. Second, it is a completely private process.
new text end

new text begin This leaves you with a great deal of flexibility. After you have educated yourself,
you can choose how detailed or simple to make your divorce decisions, and whether to
postpone some decisions to a later time. You can also create your own understanding
of fairness unique to your own situation.
new text end

new text begin These special features of a Cooperative Private Divorce, eliminating the anxiety
of someone else having control over your family, and lessening the pressure to resolve
everything all at once during a very stressful time, are intended to replace conflict with
your spouse by creating a healthy transition for you and your family. You are encouraged
to view each other as partners in creating the best solution for you and your family in
parenting and financial matters.
new text end

new text begin Basic Principles
new text end

new text begin Cooperative Private Divorce is not for everyone. Because of the need to create a fair
and healthy plan without coercion or oversight, it is intended for couples who can work
together in good faith for the best interests of everyone in the family.
new text end

new text begin Here are the five principles underlying Cooperative Private Divorce. If you and
your spouse believe you can fashion your divorce according to these principles, then a
Cooperative Private Divorce may be the best procedure for you.
new text end

new text begin 1. The healthy relationships principle: If you have children, your parenting plan
promotes safe, nurturing, and stable relationships among the children and with both
of their parents.
new text end

new text begin 2. The maximum parent involvement principle: Your parenting plan promotes high
levels of involvement of both parents with the children when that is feasible and
consistent with the needs of the children.
new text end

new text begin 3. The equity principle: Your financial plan promotes equitable and sustainable
lifestyles for all family members in light of the unique circumstances of your
marriage and family.
new text end

new text begin 4. The flexibility principle: Your divorce agreements take into account both
the value of having stable arrangements and the likelihood that the needs and
circumstances of your family will change over time.
new text end

new text begin 5. The optimal timing principle: You create partial or comprehensive agreements
with the timing and sequence that work best for you and your family.
new text end

new text begin Two Cautions
new text end

new text begin First, if you feel pressured or intimidated by your spouse to use this process or to
agree to specific matters in your divorce, or if you have doubts generally about your
spouse's willingness to reach agreements that are best for everyone in your family,
consider getting professional assistance before going further.
new text end

new text begin Second, the flexibility of a Cooperative Private Divorce also leaves you with an
important responsibility. Some couples have relatively simple issues to address in their
divorce. But some couples have more complex financial and parenting matters to resolve.
If you do not consider such matters carefully, you may face problems such as having
agreements that do not work over time or that are not enforceable. You are responsible to
educate yourself about the issues in your divorce and to obtain professional assistance
if you need it.
new text end

new text begin Professional and Community Resources
new text end

new text begin To begin with, recognize that going ahead with a divorce is a big decision, especially
if you have children. Many research studies have shown that divorce can have an adverse
effect on children. If you want help to make sure you are making the right decision for
you and your family, you can make use of services available in local communities.
new text end

new text begin If you have made the decision to go ahead with the divorce, you may choose to work
with an advocate or with a facilitator who can guide you and your spouse in cooperative
processes that focus on your interests and needs and what will work for your family. You
may want to consult with an advisor on parenting or financial issues. From private sources
you can obtain sample agreements that may help you frame all of the issues you will
likely encounter. Although divorce can seem complex and difficult, these resources and
professional services can help make it easier for you and your spouse to reach an agreement.
new text end

new text begin The Bureau of Mediation Services serves as a clearinghouse for information about
the types of resources available. It also can provide information about services that are
offered for free or on a sliding fee.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 10. new text end

new text begin Instructions; form.
new text end

new text begin Instructions for Cooperative Private Divorce
new text end

new text begin 1. Both spouses obtain unique identifiers from the Bureau of Mediation Services.
new text end

new text begin 2. Both spouses sign and submit the INTENT TO DIVORCE form with their unique
identifiers to register with the Bureau of Mediation Services.
new text end

new text begin 3. At any time at least 90 days after but not more than two years after submitting the
INTENT TO DIVORCE form, submit the Declaration of Divorce form signed by both
spouses.
new text end

new text begin 4. Upon submitting the Declaration of Divorce form, both spouses will receive a
certification that your marriage is terminated.
new text end

new text begin 5. Most complete divorce agreements address the issues set forth in the Declaration of
Divorce form. It is up to you whether you want to record agreements in all or any of these
areas. But recognize that if your agreements are vague or incomplete or if you do not record
your agreements, it may be difficult for you to recall them, live up to your obligations,
or later ask a court to enforce an agreement. Use attachments if you want to record
agreements that are longer than space here permits. No one will review or approve the
agreements you set forth here before your divorce is certified; they are for your use only.
new text end

new text begin 6. At any time, either spouse can retrieve the Declaration of Divorce form containing your
agreements by providing your unique identifier. No one except you and your spouse will
have access to this form.
new text end

new text begin 7. At any time, you and your former spouse can retrieve the Declaration of Divorce form,
make additions or modifications that you both agree to, and resubmit it.
new text end

new text begin 8. If you want to modify your previous agreements but you and your former spouse cannot
agree on the modifications, or if you want to seek enforcement of a previous agreement,
you are encouraged to seek assistance from professionals in the community who specialize
in helping former spouses reach fair agreements. You also have the option of going to
court where you would submit your Declaration of Divorce form.
new text end

new text begin 9. Remember that by creating a smooth family transition now and working on issues that
may arise in the future, developing a trustworthy working relationship with your spouse
will be just as helpful as written agreements.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 11. new text end

new text begin Intent to divorce; declaration of divorce; form.
new text end

new text begin Intent to Divorce
new text end

new text begin We hereby declare that we are legally married, have both been residents of
Minnesota for at least six months, and intend to divorce. We understand that our divorce
will be certified if we submit the Declaration of Divorce form signed by both spouses at
least 90 days after, but not more than two years after, the date this INTENT TO DIVORCE
form is submitted.
new text end

new text begin
Date and place of marriage:
new text end
new text begin .
new text end
new text begin Signature, date:
new text end
new text begin .
new text end
new text begin E-mail address:
new text end
new text begin .
new text end
new text begin Signature, date:
new text end
new text begin .
new text end
new text begin E-mail address:
new text end
new text begin .
new text end
new text begin Declaration of Divorce
new text end
new text begin Facts
new text end
new text begin 1. We agree that the following is a list of all our assets and their approximate value:
new text end
new text begin 2. We agree that the following is a list of all our debts:
new text end
new text begin 3. Spouse A name and yearly income, including any bonuses:
new text end
new text begin 4. Spouse B name and yearly income, including any bonuses:
new text end
new text begin 5. The names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers of our minor children covered
by this agreement are:
new text end

new text begin Agreements
new text end

new text begin 1. We agree to the following plan for parenting our child or children together after the
divorce. If our plan is temporary, we agree to the following process for updating it. (A
comprehensive plan would include: (a) how you will make important decisions like those
about school, health care, and religion; (b) how you will allocate your time with the
children during the school year, the summer, holidays, and vacations to provide a nurturing
environment and rich relationships with both of you; and (c) how you will communicate
with each other and work out differences of opinion.)
new text end

new text begin 2. We agree to the following plan for sharing the expenses of raising our child or children.
(You may choose to follow the Minnesota Child Support guidelines available at the Bureau
of Mediation Services, or you may choose your own plan. If you agree to a deviation
from the guideline amounts, provide the reasons for the deviation. If either parent is
receiving public assistance, the county attorney will have to approve this agreement or it
will not be enforceable.)
new text end

new text begin 3. We agree to the following plan for providing health insurance for our children.
new text end

new text begin 4. We agree to the following plan for paying off our debts. (This agreement will not
change your obligations to any creditor; it is simply an agreement between the two of you
about who will be paying a debt.)
new text end

new text begin 5. We agree to the following plan for dividing our property and assets. (If an allocation of
assets or debts, or an allocation of both, deviates from a nearly equal division, provide
the reasons for the allocation. Educate yourself about the difference between marital
and nonmarital property.)
new text end

new text begin a. Real estate (Include who will pay any mortgages, agreements to refinance a
mortgage, and make provisions for recording necessary documents with the county
recorder.)
new text end

new text begin b. Personal property, such as household furnishings, vehicles, and other objects
you own.
new text end

new text begin c. Financial assets, such as retirements, investments, stock, bank accounts, and
business interests. A division of some retirement accounts require a qualified
domestic relations order signed by a court.
new text end

new text begin 6. We agree to the following schedule of payments for spousal support (alimony). (If there
is a large difference in your incomes and you agree to a minimal amount or no amount
of spousal support, provide the reasons for the spousal support agreement. For purposes
of federal tax deductibility, this agreement is a divorce or separation instrument. If you
expressly state that your agreement about spousal support is final and may not be modified
by a court, then courts thereafter lack jurisdiction to modify the agreement for changed
circumstances. However, section 518.145, subdivision 2, relating to reopening awards for
mistake or misconduct, applies to agreements about your spousal maintenance agreement
if there is a subsequent court action to modify or vacate your Declaration of Divorce.)
new text end

new text begin 7. We agree to the following plan to maintain health insurance coverage for both spouses.
(If one spouse is interested in continuing health insurance coverage under the other
spouse's employer-provided policy, certain laws apply, including a requirement that an
election must be made within 60 days of your divorce.)
new text end

new text begin 8. We agree to the following plan for paying any past joint tax liability or future tax
liability, or both, and we agree to the following plan for who will claim the dependency
exemption for our child or children.
new text end

new text begin 9. We have reached the following additional agreements which we wish to record:
new text end

new text begin Name Change
new text end
new text begin One or both of our names should hereby be changed:
new text end
new text begin From
new text end
new text begin .
new text end
new text begin To
new text end
new text begin .
new text end
new text begin From
new text end
new text begin .
new text end
new text begin From
new text end
new text begin .
new text end

new text begin Dissolution
new text end

new text begin We hereby agree to the termination of our marriage according to the preceding
terms. We hereby warrant that we have made complete disclosure to each other of all
information and documents that are important to these agreements, and that the list of
assets and debts contained in paragraph (1) are complete and accurate and there are no
open court cases involving these issues.
new text end

new text begin Signature, date:
new text end
new text begin .
new text end
new text begin Signature, date:
new text end
new text begin .
new text end

new text begin Subd. 12. new text end

new text begin Fee. new text end

new text begin The commissioner shall charge the participants of the cooperative
private divorce program a fee of $....... The fees are appropriated to the commissioner to
administer and manage the online program under this section.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 13. new text end

new text begin Data. new text end

new text begin Data collected under this section is classified as private data on
individuals, as defined in section 13.02, subdivision 12.
new text end

Sec. 2. new text beginREPORT.
new text end

new text begin The commissioner of the Bureau of Mediation Services shall conduct an evaluation
of the cooperative private divorce program after the first and second years of operation.
The areas of evaluation shall include, but not be limited to:
new text end

new text begin (1) number of users of the cooperative private divorce program, both initially and
transferring to and from a court divorce;
new text end

new text begin (2) costs of the cooperative private divorce program to government and families
in comparison to court divorces;
new text end

new text begin (3) user satisfaction with the cooperative private divorce program process and with
their agreements; and
new text end

new text begin (4) any correlation between use of the cooperative private divorce program system
and subsequent use of court services for the same case or related cases.
new text end

Sec. 3. new text beginAPPROPRIATION; BUREAU OF MEDIATION SERVICES.
new text end

new text begin $....... is appropriated from the general fund in fiscal year 2016 to the commissioner
of the Bureau of Mediation Services to develop and implement the online cooperative
private divorce program under section 1. The cooperative private divorce program must
be made available on the Bureau of Mediation Services Web site by January 1, 2016.
new text end