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Do You Have to Legally Separate Before Divorce?

Divorce laws can vary between states. If you’re filing for divorce in Minnesota, you might wonder whether you’re required to legally separate before the divorce is final.

Minnesota does not require legal separation before divorce. Here’s what you need to know before you decide your next steps.

What is legal separation?

Legal separation is usually a temporary legal agreement between spouses. Unlike informal separations, where one spouse moves out or otherwise puts the relationship on pause, legal separations involve the justice system.

Don’t confuse legal separation with divorce: spouses are still married during the separation, but there may be temporary court orders for child and spousal support. In many cases, the legal separation may only last one year; in others, you may be able to indefinitely continue the separation in lieu of divorce.

Divorce, on the other hand, is a permanent resolution. All issues must be settled before it is granted, and there may be additional child or spousal maintenance orders. At the end of a divorce, you are no longer married.

Should I try a legal separation?

There are many reasons people might try separation instead of divorce. It’s a good way to take a “break” from the marriage to work on ongoing issues, while protecting your assets and potentially providing spousal and child support benefits. Some couples choose legal separation because their religion or community does not permit divorce, but they are unable to make their relationship work.

While you can legally separate before divorce, it’s not required. If you want to work on your marriage while taking time apart, a legal separation can provide for your financial needs. However, if you’re positive your marriage is irretrievably broken, it’s usually wise to move forward with divorce.

The experienced divorce and separation lawyers at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A. in St. Paul, MN can help. Call today for a consultation.

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  • "Mary from APH Law helped me thru a difficult divorce. She and the entire staff was there for me every step of the way helping me on what to do next. They listened to what I wanted and helped me achieve what matter the most to me in the divorce settlement." - Dana C.

  • "I chose APH after my initial consultation with Mary. I felt my best interest would be represented. The entire process went excellent, the attorneys and staff communicated effectively and efficiently with me throughout the process as they needed to. Being new to the legal process and verbiage, they walked me and talked me through the next steps and the jargon, I felt completely comfortable and represented. I hope I never have to use legal services again but if I do I will call Mary at APH Law and know that I will be taken care of." - Jeff M.

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  • "I first came to Ms. Jacquelyn Lutz of Appelhof, Pfeifer and Hart in October of 2016. It was definitely the worst time in my life and she compassionately spoke with me about my options. Ms. Lutz thoroughly explained the laws, statutes, process and what to expect going forward. What was supposed to be one case, turned into three intricate cases that took a huge toll on me and my family. Ms. Lutz represented me in court on all three cases with a vast knowledge of the laws and how to proceed accordingly. During all three cases she kept me informed, calm, gave me resources to utilize, and (most important) gave me a realistic view of what may come next. Ms. Lutz knew each case required a great deal of knowledge and creative thinking on how to legally proceed forward with each case. My family and friends are forever grateful for the amazing representation by Ms. Lutz. I highly recommend Ms. Lutz for anyone needing or considering superb representation for any kind of family law. " - M.H.


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