The state of Minnesota offers multiple options for adjusting marital status. Divorce may be the most common approach, but some couples prefer legal separation. Although similar to divorce in many respects, legal separation holds a few key distinctions worth taking into account, as outlined below.

Separation Versus Legal Separation

Separation and legal separation are not one and the same. To separate, spouses merely need to live apart. No documents need to be filed or arrangements ironed out for this to happen. However, without such official distinctions, separated spouses may find themselves vulnerable to disagreements or changes in legal rights. These can be resolved through legal separation. Although this process requires a lot more effort than merely living apart, it provides valuable legal protection.

Divorce Versus Legal Separation

When ‘legal’ precedes the term ‘separation,’ the marriage’s status officially changes. To separate, spouses must file petitions in Divorce Court, much as they might when initiating a standard divorce.

At first glance, the legal separation process resembles that of divorce. Both often involve custody, parenting time, and child support arrangements. Those seeking legal separation can even obtain orders for dividing assets and debts. The key distinction? After all of these arrangements have been made, the separated couple remains legally married.

While the hassle of legal separation may not seem worthwhile in light of the retained marital status, it proves beneficial in select circumstances. Some couples, for example, may need to remain married to maintain access to insurance coverage, retirement benefits, or other financial necessities. Others simply are opposed to divorce for moral or religious reasons. Regardless of the circumstances, this approach can prove a valuable alternative to divorce.

Whether you prefer to seek divorce or legal separation, you can count on the team at the Brown Law Offices for support. Reach out today to learn more about our legal services.

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Photo of Cynthia J. Brown Cynthia J. Brown

Cynthia Brown is a founding shareholder with the Brown Law Offices, P.A., a northwest Twin Cities divorce and family law firm. She is an honors graduate of the University of South Dakota and William Mitchell College of Law. Cynthia’s practice focuses almost exclusively

Cynthia Brown is a founding shareholder with the Brown Law Offices, P.A., a northwest Twin Cities divorce and family law firm. She is an honors graduate of the University of South Dakota and William Mitchell College of Law. Cynthia’s practice focuses almost exclusively on divorce and family law issues. She publishes a monthly family law column for the Minnesota Lawyer newspaper, and has contributed to Divorce Magazine and The Family Law Forum. Cynthia also serves as a panel attorney for the Anoka County Family Law Clinic.