Legal Separation in Minnesota

Why do people often consider a legal separation in Minnesota?

Many people believe the myth that a legal separation in Minnesota is cheaper and quicker than a divorce.  This is often the reason that people consider a legal separation.  Unfortunately, it’s not typically cheaper or quicker.  There is a legal proceeding in either case. 

In either case, the Court still must determine issues of child custody, child support, alimony, and asset and debt division.  The only thing that doesn’t change?  You and your spouse are still legally married after a legal separation.

So, in a legal separation you don’t divorce your spouse.  If later down the road you want a divorce, you have to pursue another legal proceeding.  This happens in the majority of legal separation cases.

Why a legal separation instead of a divorce?

Because of the foregoing, a legal separation is rarely recommended.  There are a few exceptions, however.

  • At least one spouse has religious reasons for not getting a divorce.  If one spouse’s religion takes a negative view towards a divorce, a separation may offer a viable alternative.
  • At least one spouse has a financial reason for not getting a divorce.  This may involve preservation of medical insurance benefits or some other financial incentive that s/he may lose with a divorce but not a separation.
  • At least one spouse has hopes that the parties will reconcile.  This may be a reason to get a legal separation in the hopes that the other spouse will eventually work to reconcile.
  • Neither spouse meets the 180-day requirement for residency in Minnesota.  In order to divorce, one of the spouses must have resided in Minnesota for at least 180 days prior to the start of the divorce.  Legal separation in Minnesota does not have a 180 day requirement.

Unless one of these four reasons applies and it’s important to you, it’s rarely a good idea to pursue a legal separation as an alternative to a divorce.  Because of these issues, legal separation in Minnesota has become extraordinarily rare and generally is not a good solution to an ending relationship. 

To learn more about divorce in Minnesota, click here.  To learn more about legal separation in Minnesota from the Court, click here.