OUR OFFICES ARE OPEN as we are deemed essential by the state. We are taking every precaution to ensure our clients and team members are safe. Due to precautions related to COVID-19, we have expanded our options for remote consultations. Please contact our office to discuss whether a full phone consultation or video conference is appropriate for your situation.

 

A Tradition of Service, Focused On Achieving Positive Results

  1. Home
  2.  » 
  3. Family Law
  4.  » 
  5. Divorce
  6.  » Legal Separation Or Divorce?

Legal Separation Or Divorce?

Clients sometimes inquire as to whether they should seek a legal separation rather than a divorce. Accordingly, a comparison of the two is warranted.

A legal separation does not end the marriage. Rather, a legal separation is the division of spousal rights and responsibilities as determined by the courts. Problems that may arise in a divorce, like those related to debts or assets, may meet a resolution through legal separation. Though, where a divorce potentially ends these issues, a legal separation does not. Rather, the separation determinations are temporary and can be changed completely should a divorce later occur.

In Minnesota, a proceeding for a legal separation cannot be “converted” into a proceeding for a divorce. If a client first files for legal separation, he or she will have to have pleadings prepared and pay a $400 filing fee. If the client later decides to divorce, he or she will have to have new, different, pleadings prepared, and pay another $400 filing fee. A new court file will be opened with a different court file number. The client will likely even have a different judge.

If what a client really wants is a divorce, a legal separation is not recommended. A legal separation will keep your marriage together while you work toward possible reconciliation or personal problem resolution. For example, one might seek a legal separation from a spouse who is working through a gambling problem to achieve legal distance from the potential financial repercussions of the problem.

Legal separations are rarer every year, especially being that Minnesota is now a no-fault divorce state. Still, it a legal separation is a reasonable option for those looking to achieve reconciliation without the finality of divorce.

Paul Overson