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Married couples typically go through times when they disagree enough that they want to gain a bit of space for a short time period. These couples need to understand that Minnesota law does not require spouses to live together, and no paperwork is absolutely required if they want to live apart. However, our Minneapolis divorce attorneys warn that informal separations do not offer the legal protections provided by legal separation. Additionally, even a court-decreed legal separation is not the same as a divorce.

A Question of Finality

Section 518.06 of the Minnesota statutes explains that divorce (known as dissolution of marriage) represents the complete termination of a marriage. Aside from any child support and parenting time responsibilities (and possibly some tax or retirement issues), divorced couples move on with separate lives, and they can, of course, remarry if they so choose.

Under a legal separation agreement, both parties may live apart, but they remain married in every sense. Still, obtaining a legal separation involves the same basic process as the one used for divorce — and the associated expenses can be just as high as they would be for divorce. So, if separating couples still need to decide about the children and virtually every important aspect of their lives, why would legal separation ever make sense? There are many reasons, including the following:

  • Even if they want to work to repair the relationship, they might need some time apart for the chance to reflect objectively on the marriage.
  • They may want the opportunity to essentially try out divorce before making the decision to actually end the marriage.
  • They may have financial or insurance reasons to remain married for a longer period of time even if divorce is the ultimate goal.
  • They may reject the concept of divorce for religious or other ideological reasons.

Legal Separations Can Ease the Path to Divorce

Clearly, since issues pertaining to the children, division of property and even spousal support must be decided in legal separations, they can be as complex as obtaining a divorce. However, in the event that a separated couple later decides to divorce, the parties have had the opportunity to test their agreement before making it final. Most legally-separated couples typically agree that negotiating the final terms of divorce is a relatively simple process that requires tweaks to the separation agreement, rather than full negotiation.

There are many reasons for choosing legal separation over divorce, but this decision may not be right for all couples. When clients come to our Minneapolis divorce lawyers seeking legal separation or divorce, we take the time to obtain the background information needed to help them make the right choices. Call us at (763) 783-5146 or use our convenient contact form to obtain the full advice and support that you need.