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1991 Minnesota Session Laws

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                         Laws of Minnesota 1991 

                        CHAPTER 271-H.F.No. 321 
           An act relating to marriage dissolution; requiring a 
          summons to contain certain information; providing for 
          court approval of certain items without a hearing; 
          changing requirements for court orders in contested 
          custody cases and providing for payment of 
          investigation costs; limiting joint custody; creating 
          a summary dissolution pilot project; appropriating 
          money for marriage dissolution education and 
          orientation; amending Minnesota Statutes 1990, 
          sections 518.13, by adding a subdivision; 518.167, by 
          adding a subdivision; 518.17, subdivision 2; 518B.01, 
          subdivision 2; and Laws 1990, chapter 574, section 26; 
          proposing coding for new law in Minnesota Statutes, 
          chapter 518. 
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA: 
    Section 1.  [518.091] [SUMMONS; TEMPORARY RESTRAINING 
PROVISIONS.] 
     (a) Every summons must include the notice in this paragraph.
 NOTICE OF TEMPORARY RESTRAINING PROVISIONS 
    UNDER MINNESOTA LAW, SERVICE OF THIS SUMMONS MAKES THE 
FOLLOWING REQUIREMENTS APPLY TO BOTH PARTIES TO THIS ACTION, 
UNLESS THEY ARE MODIFIED BY THE COURT OR THE PROCEEDING IS 
DISMISSED: 
    (1) NEITHER PARTY MAY DISPOSE OF ANY ASSETS EXCEPT (i) FOR 
THE NECESSITIES OF LIFE OR FOR THE NECESSARY GENERATION OF 
INCOME OR PRESERVATION OF ASSETS, (ii) BY AN AGREEMENT IN 
WRITING, OR (iii) FOR RETAINING COUNSEL TO CARRY ON OR TO 
CONTEST THIS PROCEEDING; 
    (2) NEITHER PARTY MAY HARASS THE OTHER PARTY; AND 
    (3) ALL CURRENTLY AVAILABLE INSURANCE COVERAGE MUST BE 
MAINTAINED AND CONTINUED WITHOUT CHANGE IN COVERAGE OR 
BENEFICIARY DESIGNATION. 
    IF YOU VIOLATE ANY OF THESE PROVISIONS, YOU WILL BE SUBJECT 
TO SANCTIONS BY THE COURT.  
    (b) Upon service of the summons, the restraining provisions 
contained in the notice apply by operation of law upon both 
parties until modified by further order of the court or 
dismissal of the proceeding, unless more than one year has 
passed since the last document was filed with the court. 
    Sec. 2.  Minnesota Statutes 1990, section 518.13, is 
amended by adding a subdivision to read: 
    Subd. 5.  [APPROVAL WITHOUT HEARING.] Proposed findings of 
fact, conclusions of law, order for judgment, and judgment and 
decree must be submitted to the court for approval and filing 
without a final hearing in the following situations: 
    (1) if there are no minor children of the marriage, and (i) 
the parties have entered into a written stipulation, or (ii) the 
respondent has not appeared after service duly made and proved 
by affidavit and at least 20 days have elapsed since the time 
for answering under section 518.12 expired; or 
    (2) if there are minor children of the marriage, the 
parties have signed and acknowledged a stipulation, and all 
parties are represented by counsel. 
    Notwithstanding clause (1) or (2), the court shall schedule 
the matter for hearing in any case where the proposed judgment 
and decree does not appear to be in the best interests of the 
minor children or is contrary to the interests of justice. 
     Sec. 3.  Minnesota Statutes 1990, section 518.167, is 
amended by adding a subdivision to read: 
    Subd. 5.  [COSTS.] The court shall order all or part of the 
cost of the investigation and report to be paid by either or 
both parties, based on their ability to pay.  Any part of the 
cost that the court finds the parties are incapable of paying 
must be borne by the county welfare agency or department of 
court services that performs the investigation.  The court may 
not order costs under this subdivision to be paid by a party 
receiving public assistance or legal assistance from a qualified 
legal services program or by a party whose annual income falls 
below the poverty line under United States Code, title 42, 
section 9902(2). 
     Sec. 4.  Minnesota Statutes 1990, section 518.17, 
subdivision 2, is amended to read: 
    Subd. 2.  [FACTORS WHEN JOINT CUSTODY IS SOUGHT.] In 
addition to the factors listed in subdivision 1, where either 
joint legal or joint physical custody is contemplated or sought, 
the court shall consider the following relevant factors:  
    (a) The ability of parents to cooperate in the rearing of 
their children; 
    (b) Methods for resolving disputes regarding any major 
decision concerning the life of the child, and the parents' 
willingness to use those methods; 
    (c) Whether it would be detrimental to the child if one 
parent were to have sole authority over the child's upbringing; 
and 
    (d) Whether domestic abuse, as defined in section 518B.01, 
has occurred between the parents.  
    The court shall use a rebuttable presumption that upon 
request of either or both parties, joint legal custody is in the 
best interests of the child.  However, the court shall use a 
rebuttable presumption that joint legal or physical custody is 
not in the best interests of the child if domestic abuse, as 
defined in section 518B.01, has occurred between the parents. 
    If the court awards joint legal or physical custody over 
the objection of a party, the court shall make detailed findings 
on each of the factors in this subdivision and explain how the 
factors led to its determination that joint custody would be in 
the best interests of the child. 
    Sec. 5.  [518.195] [PILOT PROJECT.] 
    Subdivision 1.  [CRITERIA.] In the counties selected under 
subdivision 4, a couple desirous of dissolving their marriage 
may use the streamlined procedure in this section if: 
    (1) no living minor children have been born to or adopted 
by the parties before or during the marriage, unless someone 
other than the husband has been adjudicated the father; 
    (2) the wife is not pregnant; 
    (3) they have been married fewer than five years as of the 
date they file their joint declaration; 
    (4) neither party owns any real estate; 
    (5) there are no unpaid debts in excess of $5,000 incurred 
by either or both of the parties during the marriage, excluding 
encumbrances on automobiles; 
    (6) the total fair market value of the marital assets does 
not exceed $25,000, including net equity on automobiles; 
    (7) neither party has nonmarital assets in excess of 
$25,000; and 
    (8) neither party has been a victim of domestic abuse by 
the other. 
    Subd. 2.  [PROCEDURE.] A couple qualifying under all of the 
criteria in subdivision 1, may obtain a judgment and decree by: 
    (1) filing a sworn joint declaration, on which both of 
their signatures must be notarized, containing or appending the 
following information: 
    (i) the demographic data required in section 518.10; 
    (ii) verifying the qualifications set forth in subdivision 
1; 
    (iii) listing each party's nonmarital property; 
    (iv) setting forth how the marital assets and debts will be 
apportioned; 
    (v) verifying both parties' income and preserving their 
rights to spousal maintenance; and 
    (vi) certifying that there has been no domestic abuse of 
one party by the other; and 
    (2) viewing any introductory and summary process 
educational videotapes, if then available from the court, and 
certifying that they watched any such tapes within the 30 days 
preceding the filing of the joint declaration. 
    The district court administrator shall enter a decree of 
dissolution 30 days after the filing of the joint declaration if 
the parties meet the statutory qualifications and have complied 
with the procedural requirements of this subdivision. 
    Subd. 3.  [FORMS.] The state court administrator shall 
develop simplified forms and instructions for the summary 
process within 120 days of the effective date of this section.  
District court administrators shall make the forms for the 
summary process available upon request and shall accept joint 
declarations for filing 180 days after the effective date of 
this section. 
    Subd. 4.  [PILOT PROGRAM.] The state court administrator 
shall designate no more than five counties in at least three 
different judicial districts as pilot jurisdictions for testing 
the streamlined process.  District court administrators shall 
make the forms for the summary process available upon request to 
appropriate residents of the pilot jurisdictions. 
    Sec. 6.  [EVALUATION.] 
    The state court administrator shall evaluate the summary 
dissolution process under section 5 and shall make an interim 
report of its findings to the legislature no later than October 
1, 1993, with a final report no later than October 1, 1995.  The 
evaluation must be done in cooperation with an evaluation 
advisory committee appointed by the state court administrator 
and including battered women's advocates, lawyers representing 
low-income people in family law matters, other lawyers 
practicing family law, and consumer representatives.  Evaluation 
of the summary process must include an inquiry into: 
    (1) who uses the process and the extent to which use of the 
summary process is the result of free choice, rather than 
economic necessity or other forms of coercion; 
    (2) the impact of the summary process on low-income people; 
and 
    (3) how agreements entered into in the summary process 
compare to final orders in similar cases handled through the 
regular process. 
     Sec. 7.  Minnesota Statutes 1990, section 518B.01, 
subdivision 2, is amended to read: 
    Subd. 2.  [DEFINITIONS.] As used in this section, the 
following terms shall have the meanings given them:  
    (a) "Domestic abuse" means:  (i) physical harm, bodily 
injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical 
harm, bodily injury or assault, between family or household 
members; or (ii) criminal sexual conduct, within the meaning of 
section 609.342, 609.343, 609.344, or 609.345, committed against 
a minor family or household member by an adult family or 
household member.  
    (b) "Family or household members" means spouses, former 
spouses, parents and children, persons related by blood, and 
persons who are presently residing together or who have resided 
together in the past, and persons who have a child in common 
regardless of whether they have been married or have lived 
together at any time.  "Family or household member" also 
includes a man and woman if the woman is pregnant and the man is 
alleged to be the father, regardless of whether they have been 
married or have lived together at any time.  Issuance of an 
order for protection on this ground does not affect a 
determination of paternity under sections 257.51 to 257.74.  
     Sec. 8.  Laws 1990, chapter 574, section 26, is amended to 
read: 
    Sec. 26.  [EFFECTIVE DATE.] 
    Section 20 is effective August 1, 1990, and applies to 
actions commenced on or after that date.  The provisions of 
section 22, paragraph (c), allowing retroactive modification of 
support or maintenance payments in certain cases, are effective 
July 1, 1991, provided that these provisions do not take effect 
if a change in or waiver of the existing AFDC requirements is 
not obtained under section 24. 
    Sec. 9.  [REPEALER.] 
    Section 5 is repealed effective July 1, 1996, for cases 
filed on or after that date. 
    Sec. 10.  [APPROPRIATION.] 
    $30,000 is appropriated from the general fund to the 
supreme court to be used to develop a mandatory marriage 
dissolution orientation and education program.  This 
appropriation is available until June 30, 1992. 
    Presented to the governor May 29, 1991 
    Signed by the governor June 1, 1991, 3:40 p.m.

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