Divorcing your spouse because s/he broke a law in Minnesota may have some sticky implications, depending on which laws were broken and how the guilty was punished. Minnesota is a no-fault divorce state, so the facts of your spouse’s criminal case may or may not be relevant to your divorce. Consider the following before pursuing divorce based on criminal conduct:
1. If your spouse has been accused of a crime but has not yet been convicted, you can’t call them a criminal in divorce court. Even if you believe they are guilty, in the eyes of the law, they are presumed innocent until proven otherwise.
2. Being a criminal doesn’t make a person a bad parent. If a court found your spouse guilty of a crime, they may still have parenting time rights – and may even be rewarded joint custody of your child(red). The court will consider all evidence concerning your and your spouse’s character.
3. A conviction may or may not lead to jail time. Don’t assume that your spouse will not be able to contact you, or visit your children. If you fear retribution or domestic violence, take precautionary measures, and protect yourself and your child(red) from a spouse who is a violent offender.
4. If you believe your spouse committed a crime for which s/he has not been charged, report the alleged crime before filing for divorce. If you are the victim of the crime, file a police report.
5. Divorce court is not criminal court. Don’t file for divorce hoping to get the conviction your spouse didn’t get in criminal court. If you believe the crime your spouse committed is cause for divorce, make your case before the judge, but do it knowing the judge may not punish your spouse criminally.