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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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  • "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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