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Should I File for Divorce or Legally Separate From My Spouse?

Divorce is not the only option when deciding issues about the makeup of your family. For some couples, legal separation is a viable alternative to divorce. When considering how to best meet your family’s needs, our talented team of legal professionals explains the differences between divorce and legal separation so you can make a decision that is manageable for your family. Because the end result of a legal separation can look much the same as a divorce, it is important to know the differences.

Legal separation is a similar legal process to divorce. You must file a petition seeking a decree of separation and the process can take as long as the process to get a divorce. In addition, many of the same issues are involved, including:

  • Child support
  • Child custody and visitation
  • Parenting time and responsibilities
  • Spousal support (commonly referred to as alimony)
  • Property awards
  • Assignment of assets and debts

The most easily identifiable difference between a divorce and a legal separation is that in a legal separation the parties remain married, while in a divorce they do not. Reasons couples may decide to pursue a legal separation rather than a divorce often include financial and tax consequences, but may also include possibility of reconciliation.  Religious or moral values may also play a part in the decision to legally separate rather than file for divorce. Whatever the reason, an experienced family law attorney is needed to make sure the proper documents are prepared and filed. Our office has  combined experience of over 50 years helping people transition to the next phase of their lives. We are skilled in representing families and can help you determine what issues are most important to you when changing your family dynamic.

If you are considering divorce or legal separation, call an experienced Minnesota family lawyer for help. We help as your family moves from being under one roof to two. We offer compassionate and caring advice while always keeping your family’s best interests in mind.

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Client testimonials
  • "Tori had a thorough understanding of my situation and made excellent recommendations to resolve my concerns. She was persistent on communication and handled everything in a very timely manner. I would definitely hire her again in the future if needed." - M.K.

  • "With Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A., it is like having a family physician. They are all knowledgeable, thorough, comforting, and the only call I need to make for all my legal needs for many years to come. No matter what the matter, I totally trust their advice and commitment to me and my family." - J.N.

  • "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.

  • "Divorce is a time of emotion and stress. Mary Pfeifer , My lawyer was professional and compassionate. She was very informative through the process. Her insight helped me in my decisions. She worked hard to obtain a settlement which was fair to both parties.Though, I hope I won't need her help again. It is reassuring to know a good person that is willing to help." - Rod S.

  • "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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