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Legal News in Minnesota

Is My Stipulated Divorce Decree a Binding Contract?

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Mankato Family Law Attorneys at Farrish Johnson

Divorce is life changing. Sometimes, it comes as a complete surprise. Regardless of the side you stand on, it is wise to seek assistance from a legal team with expertise in Minnesota divorce law.

Grounds for a Divorce

Minnesota is a no-fault divorce state.  No-fault divorce means there is no requirement to prove a spouse’s actions caused an irreconcilable breakdown of the marital relationship.

The Types of Divorce

Divorces in Minnesota are known as a Dissolutions of Marriage. In Minnesota, there are three types of divorce: uncontested, contested, and stipulated.

An uncontested divorce happens when both parties agree to all terms. A contested divorce happens when the parties fail to agree to terms. Contested dissolutions are decided by a judge.

A stipulated divorce happens when parties reach agreement on some or all of the issues during litigation of a contested divorce.

A Stipulated Divorce

Are the parties’ stipulated divorce terms a binding contract? The answer is typically, ” yes.”  Generally, when both parties sign a stipulated divorce decree, the stipulation is treated as a binding contract.

Only under extraordinary circumstances will a stipulation be amended after signed by a judge.  Factors that may influence the potential for a change include:

  • the level of understanding of the terms of the stipulation;
  • whether there is a record of the respondent and the petitioner both agreeing to the stipulation;
  • the extensiveness of the negotiations; and
  • the existence of fraud;
  • whether there was legal representation; and
  • other reasons that demonstrate the agreement is invalid.

Judges rarely allow withdrawal from a stipulated divorce decree.

Signing a stipulated divorce decree is a serious decision. There are many advantages to a stipulated divorce, but it is important to have a clear understanding of what it means before agreeing to it. If you have questions about a stipulated divorce decree, please call us today at (507) 625-2525 or (507) 642-3141. You can also complete our free online consultation request.