The Evolution of Parentage and Same-Sex Marriage in Minnesota

Throughout the years, the state of Minnesota has made a progressive movement toward legalizing same-sex marriages and establishing a process for determining parentage should a couple want to create a family. The process of same-sex marriage child custody and divorce has similarities when compared to opposite-sex marriage. However, there can be differences due to the varied methods in which same-sex couples have children. 

Same-Sex Marriage in Minnesota

In 1993, the Minnesota Human Rights Act was enacted, which prohibits  discrimination based on a number of protected classes , including sexual orientation. Based on these protections, the state of Minnesota passed a  law in 2013 that officially legalized same-sex marriages. In 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the right to marriage exists regardless of sexual orientation. Same-sex marriage and parenting have slowly become more common and less stigmatized due to the progression and improved acceptance of sexuality over the decades.


Same-sex divorces compare to opposite-sex divorces in very similar actions but do have some differences. Similar to opposite-sex couples, same-sex couples are required to file for divorce with the same requirements meaning one partner must reside in the state of Minnesota for no less than 180 days before filing is allowed. One of the significant differences is how the judge determines the length of the time the couple has been married. Unlike opposite-sex couples, same-sex couples have been prohibited from being legally married until 2013. Therefore, for example, if a same-sex couple has been together since 2000, but only legally married since 2013, there is a 13 year gap from when they otherwise have held themselves out to be in a committed relationship and the date they were able to become legally married. This may create an equitable argument to allow a judge to consider the time spent together as a couple rather than solely look at the length of the marriage. This equitable argument may impact a spouse’s spousal maintenance award and property division. Same-sex dissolutions are the same as opposite-sex dissolutions in that judges will determine matters such as division of assets and debts, custody and visitation, spousal maintenance, and child support.

When it comes to divorce with children in a same-sex marriage, the state of Minnesota approaches with the same processes as opposite-sex couples meaning child custody hearings occur and visitation rights are established

Having Children

Deciding to bring a child into a family is an exciting time for many, and there are several options for same-sex couples to reach the dream of creating a family. Each option comes with its potential hurdles or obstacles that couples may encounter, but all are legalized and accepted in today’s society. Many couples may opt for surrogacy, artificial insemination, and/or adoption. 

Determining Custody

When parents in a same-sex relationship experience divorce with minor children, the procedures for determining custody and parenting time between the parents is the same as it would be if parents were in opposite-sex relationships. Accordingly, the Court will look to the best interests of the child(ren) to determine custody and parenting time between the parties. 

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, it’s impressive how far the state of Minnesota has come in past years when speaking of same-sex marriage and parentage within those relationships. Since same-sex marriage was legalized in 2013, couples have the opportunity to bring a dream to life by creating a family through surrogacy, artificial insemination, and adoption. While custody and parenting time issues at the time of divorce may seem convoluted, the process has many similarities to that of an opposite-sex marriage.

This article contains general legal information and does not provide legal advice. For legal advice, please contact us.