Legal Separation in Minnesota: A Primer

Sometimes, before moving ahead with a divorce, a couple may try a period of separation to see if the time apart might help them resolve their issues. What many people do not realize, however, is that there is such a thing as a legal separation— and it’s different from a divorce or an informal separation in which two people decide to simply live apart temporarily.

Establishing key agreements

Through a legal separation, you continue to be married to your spouse. However, like a divorce, you can establish agreements — or seek a court order — on issues like property division, child custody, child support and alimony. This can be a good option for couples who would like to maintain their marriage for the protections and benefits it provides, such as Social Security and health insurance coverage.

Another reason why some couples decide to be legally separated rather than divorce is the tax consequences. Because you will still be married, you will be able to continue to file joint tax returns, allowing you to access certain credits and deductions that would not be available to you as a single filer. This can be a complicated issue, however, so you should speak with a certified public accountant to learn more about how a separation might impact your taxes.

To move forward with a legal separation in Minnesota, you would petition your local District Court. The process generally takes about as long as getting a divorce, with similar costs.

For more information and guidance on divorce and legal separation, meet with the helpful Minnesota family law attorneys at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A.

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