Family Law


Prepared by:
Melinda Hugdahl, Staff Attorney
Legal Services Advocacy Project

Chapter 108, Article 3, Section 41 (HF 1233)
Amends Minn. Stat. § 518A.60
Effective July 1, 2013

A. Conditions of Case Closure
Permits child support (IV-D) case closure by the county if: (1) the case is arrears-only; (2) arrears owed are under $500; (3) there have been no collections in three years; and (4) all administrative remedies have been attempted or determined to be fruitless because the obligor has no income or assets, and there is no reasonable prospect for future payments.

B. Notices
Requires counties to notify obligees and obligors: (1) that the case will be closed; (2) of their respective rights. Requires notice must be sent: (1) at least 60 days prior to case closure; (2) by mail; and (3) to the obligee or obligor's last known address. Requires a second notice to be mailed to the obligee at the obligee's last known address seven calendar days after the first notice is mailed.

C. Conditions for Maintaining or Reopening Case
Provides that the case: (1) must remain open if the obligee responds to a notice with information that could reasonably lead to collection; and (2) may be reopened at the obligee's request and reapplication for services if a change of circumstances provides a reasonable chance of collection.

Chapter 30 (SF 422)
Amends Minn. Stat. § 260C.101, subd. 2
Adds Minn. Stat. § 260C.329
Effective August 1, 2013

Note: This Act establishes a statutory procedure for, in limited circumstances the physical and legal reunification of parent and child.

A. Key Definition
Defines the term "reestablishment of the legal parent and child relationship" (reestablishment) to mean: (1) the physical reunification of a child under state guardianship and a previously terminated legal parent; and (2) the restoration of all rights, powers, privileges, immunities, duties, and obligations that were severed and terminated by the court.
Adds Minn. Stat. § 260C.329, subd. 2

B. Limitation of Who Can Bring Petition for Restoration of Rights
Limits the right to bring a petition for reestablishment to only the county attorney.
Adds Minn. Stat. § 260C.329, subd. 3

C. When Petition May Be Brought
Provides that a petition may be brought only if: (1) both the county social services agency and the county attorney agree that reestablishment is in the child's best interests; (2) the parent has corrected the conditions that led to an order terminating parental rights; (3) the parent is willing and has the capability to provide day-to-day care and maintain the health, safety, and welfare of the child; (4) the child has been in foster care for at least 36 months; (5) the child is at least 15 years of age; and (6) the child has not been adopted and is not the subject of an adoption placement agreement.
Adds Minn. Stat. § 260C.329, subd. 3

D. Circumstances Under Which a Petition May Not Be Brought
Prohibits the county attorney from bringing a petition for reestablishment if the parent has: (1) previously had parental rights terminated based on a finding in a legal proceeding of either sexual abuse or other conduct that resulted in the death of a minor; or (2) has been convicted of an "egregious harm" crime (enumerated Minn. Stat. § 260C.007, sub. 14).
Adds Minn. Stat. § 260C.329, subd. 4

E. Jurisdiction and Venue
Grants the juvenile court original and exclusive jurisdiction.
Amends Minn. Stat. § 260C.101, subd. 2

F. Venue
Mandates that the petition for reestablishment must be brought in the court that issued the order for guardianship and legal custody and conducts the reviews required under section 260C.607.
Adds Minn. Stat. § 260C.329, subd. 6

G. Procedure

1. Service
Requires service of the petition for reestablishment on: (1) the child; (2) the parent; (3) the child's guardian ad litem; and (4) the child's tribe if the child is subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act.
Adds Minn. Stat. § 260C.329, subd. 7

2. Evidentiary Standard
Permits the court to the grant the petition only if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that: (1) the threshold criteria have been met (e.g., the parent has corrected the conditions leading to termination); (2) reestablishment is in the child's best interests; and (3) the child desires to reside with the parent.
Adds Minn. Stat. § 260C.329, subd. 8

H. Effect of Reestablishment Order
Provides that, as of the effective date of a court order: (1) the child is the legal child of the parent; (2) the parent whose rights were terminated under a previous order of the court is restored to the status of legal parent; (3) the order placing the child under guardianship is dismissed; and (4) permanent legal and physical custody of the child is awarded to the parent. Clarifies that a reestablishment order has no effect on: (1) the legal rights of any other terminated parent; or (2) any legal sibling relationship.
Adds Minn. Stat. § 260C.329, subd. 11

NOTE: The Family Reunification Act summary was prepared by Ron Elwood, Supervising Attorney, Legal Services Advocacy Project. Phone: 651-842-6909. E-mail:

Chapter 108, Article 12, Sections 19 and 23 (HF 1233)
Amends Minn. Stat. §§ 144.215, subd. 3; and 144.218, subd. 5
Effective July 1, 2013

Removes a Declaration of Parentage from the basis: (1) to add a father's name to a birth record; or (2) for a replacement birth record.

Note: These changes are made only in Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 144, which governs the Office of Vital Statistics at the Minnesota Department of Health. Even though the time period where a Declaration of Parentage can be the basis of paternity for a minor has elapsed (i.e., prior declarations are now at the point where those children are age 18), the paternity statutes have not been changed, other than a change to Minn. Stat. § 257.75, subd. 7, which deletes language permitting hospitals to distribute a Declaration of Parentage form. (See Chapter 108, Article 12, Section 97).

Chapter 74 (HF 1054), Sections 2 - 4 and 6 - 9
Amends Minn. Stat. §§ 517.01; 517.03, subd. 1; 517.08, subd. 1a; and 518.07
Adds Minn. Stat. §§ 517.201 and 517.23
Effective August 1, 2013

Creates numerous changes to the marriage and marriage dissolution statutes, all stemming from the fundamental statutory change redefining marriage as a "civil marriage" between two persons. This section highlights key changes.

A. Definition of "Civil Marriage"
Chapter 74, Sections 2, 3, 4, and 7 (HF 1054)
Amends Minn. Stat. §§ 517.01, 517.03; subd. 1; and 517.08, subd. 1a
Adds Minn. Stat. § 517.23
Effective August 1, 2013

Replaces marriage "as between two persons of the opposite sex" with the newly-created term "civil marriage," which does not contain the same-sex prohibition and is defined to include any rights, obligations or privileges under state law that are currently granted in connection with the terms "marriage" "marital" "marry" or "married."

B. Recognition of Marriages Performed in Other States
Chapter 74, Section 3 (HF 1054)
Amends Minn. Stat. § 517.03, subd. 1
Effective August 1, 2013

Eliminates the provision prohibiting Minnesota from: (1) recognizing same-sex marriages that are valid (under statute or common law) in another state; and (2) allowing enforcement of those marital rights in Minnesota.
Note: As a result of this change, Minnesota presumably will recognize those marriages legally entered into in another state that permitting same-sex marriages, including any contractual rights granted by the marriage.

C. Dissolution of Marriage
Chapter 74, Sections 3 and 8 (HF 1054)
Amends Minn. Stat. §§ 518.03, subd. 1; and 518.07
Effective August 1, 2013

1. Minnesota Residents Married in Other States
Eliminates the provision prohibiting Minnesota from recognizing same-sex dissolutions in other states (where valid by statute or common law), including any contractual rights arising from the dissolution.

2. Former Minnesota Residents Married in Minnesota
Creates Minnesota jurisdiction for same-sex couples who: (1) were legally married in Minnesota; but where (2) neither party's residence will permit or maintain a same-sex dissolution action. Provides that the Minnesota dissolution "must be adjudicated in accordance with the laws of this state" (which presumably means that all other requirements for jurisdiction, including the 180-day residency period, still apply).

D. Rules of Construction and Revisor's Instruction
Chapter 74, Sections 6 and 9
Adds Minn. Stat. § 517.201
Uncodified language

1. Rules of Construction
Provides that, for purposes of implementing the rights and responsibilities of persons in a same-sex civil marriage, phrases such as "husband," "wife," "mother," "father," "widow," "widower," must be construed in a gender-neutral way.

NOTE: This provision specifically states that gender-neutral terms apply to presumptions of parentage based upon civil marriage.

2. Revisor's Instructions
Directs the Revisor of Statutes to change all references to "marriage" and "marriages" to "civil marriage" or "civil marriages" unless precluded by the context of the provision or another new or amended provision.