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.
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.
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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"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.