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Minnesota’s Divorce Laws Are Safer for Domestic Abuse Victims

Time magazine recently published an article about divorce waiting periods in the United States: seven states require couples to live in separate households before filing for divorce, and 35 states also require a “cooling-off” period where couples must wait a specified period before their divorce can be finalized. The separation periods range from six months to a year, while the cooling-off periods range from 20 to 300 days—and some states require both mandatory separation and cooling-off periods. This seriously impacts domestic abuse victims.

Why are waiting periods dangerous to domestic abuse victims?

Time argues that these waiting periods are dangerous to abused spouses: “The longer it takes to get that court decree, the longer the couple is navigating around the system and having to resolve things for themselves…Usually the person for whom that’s the most challenging is the partner who has less power, less money, and is probably more involved in raising the children.”

When someone is required to live apart yet stay married, the partner who has less power and money is more vulnerable to exploitation. Spouses in these states can drain joint bank accounts or sell marital property during this separation period, and there’s no legal recourse.

Minnesota divorce and separation laws

Fortunately, Minnesota is one of the few states which does not enforce a waiting period nor requires official separation before starting the divorce process. This means that partners who are suffering from domestic abuse can escape and initiate a divorce right away, rather than biding their time to “prove” that they gave their marriage a chance. It’s also a no-fault state, meaning that you do not have to prove your spouse was abusive, unfaithful or that you otherwise have a legally acceptable reason for leaving. That makes Minnesota’s laws a lot safer for domestic abuse victims.

For help with your divorce and related questions, call the trusted divorce lawyers at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A. in St. Paul, MN.

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