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 Brown Cynthia Brown

Cynthia Brown is a founding partner with the Brown Law Offices, P.A. She is an honors graduate of the University of South Dakota and William Mitchell College of Law. Cynthia was admitted to practice in 1998.

After graduating from law school, Cynthia served…

Cynthia Brown is a founding partner with the Brown Law Offices, P.A. She is an honors graduate of the University of South Dakota and William Mitchell College of Law. Cynthia was admitted to practice in 1998.

After graduating from law school, Cynthia served as the law clerk to the Honorable Timothy R. Bloomquist, retired Chief Judge of Minnesota’s Tenth Judicial District. Upon completing her clerkship, Cynthia practiced with a well-known firm in Cambridge, Minnesota. She founded the Brown Law Offices, P.A. in 2003.

Cynthia has handled a wide variety of family law matters throughout the Twin Cities, and greater Minnesota, including divorce, custody, child protective services, orders for protection and harassment restraining orders. Many of her clients have also asked her to provide guidance concerning their estate planning needs.

Early in her career, Cynthia served as a prosecutor, public defender and criminal investigator. In addition to her family practice, Cynthia routinely represents clients facing criminal charges such as DWI, assault, theft and criminal sexual misconduct.

Cynthia founded the Amigos de Guatemala Foundation in 2007. She is a former Board Member and President of the Foundation, which provided educational, health and financial resources to underprivileged Guatemalan citizens. Her interest in serving the impoverished began with a medical mission trip to Honduras in 1994.

When she is not practicing law, Cynthia enjoys scrap-booking, soap-making, ATV riding and spending time with family.


Areas of Practice
  • Divorce
  • Custody
  • Child Protective Services
  • Restraining Orders
  • Criminal Defense
  • Estate Planning
Bar Admission
  • Minnesota State Bar, 1998
Education
  • William Mitchell College of Law, 1998
  • University of South Dakota, 1995
Joined Firm
  • 2003
Professional Associations & Activities
  • Minnesota State Bar Association
  • Presenter, Various CLE Courses
  • Panel Attorney, Anoka County County Family Law Clinic
  • Monthly Columnist, Minnesota Lawyer Newspaper
  • Author, Family Law Forum
  • Author, Divorce Magazine