Minnesota Divorce vs. Minnesota Legal Separation- What’s the Difference?

Legal separations are not just informal separations between spouses.  The definition for a legal separation is found in Minnesota Statute 518.06 as follows:  Legal separation is “a court determination of the rights and responsibilities of a husband and wife arising out of the marital relationship.”

Green Scales of JusticeA legal separation addresses the same issues that arise in a divorce.  The spouses divide property and debt. They decide upon child custody and parenting time as well as child support and spousal maintenance. The only distinction between a legal separation and a divorce is that a divorce terminates the martial relationship.

Minnesota is a no-fault divorce state, which means neither party has to prove fault of the other party to get a divorce.  Legal separations are not entered into very often as a result of the ease with which folks can get a divorce.

There are some reasons why spouses might want a legal separation.  They may prefer a legal separation for religious reasons. Spouses might want to formalize issues during an extended period of reconciliation  to protect one party from debts of the other during a separation.   One spouse may need health care for a serious illness and the other spouse’s insurance will continue to carry a separated spouse but not a divorced one.  Parents might want to have a formal custody, parenting time schedule, and parenting plan during the separation while they attempt to reconcile.  An informal  custody and parenting time  during an informal separation may become the norm in the divorce to the disadvantage of one parent.  A formal  legal separation may work towards protecting one or both parties from an undesirable custody and parenting time arrangement in the event the parties decide to divorce.

About Kate Willmore, Esq.

Kate Willmore, Saint Cloud, Minnesota, divorce, custody and family attorney brings over 25 years experience to every client's legal matter. *** Licensed in Minnesota and in California

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