Janet L. Goehle, Attorney at Law
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Can you stay legally separated in Minnesota?

It is extremely rare for an engaged couple in St. Paul, Minnesota, or anywhere else in the nation, to be concerned about getting divorced. After all, the couple's life together has not even started so it's understandable if they haven't thought about living apart. However, statistics still show that nearly half of all marriages end in divorce. This sobering fact means that, despite a couple's best intentions, there is a decent chance that their marriage may not make it to the finish line. But, just because a couple decides to separate, does that mean that they must get officially divorced?

The state of Minnesota recognizes that a married couple can live physically separate from each other and there are two separate terms that refer to this situation. If they decide to simply live apart from each other, then the state considers them separated. A couple does not have to file any sort of official court papers to be separated from one another. That is because there isn't any law in the state that requires a couple to live with one another. But, if someone decides to live separate from their spouse, they should really seek the advice of a qualified attorney because this type of action can have an effect on their legal rights. And even though he or she is separated from their spouse, they are still considered married.

The other type of separation recognized in Minnesota is a legal separation and this requires some effort. If someone wants to be legally separated, then they must submit a petition for this at their local district court. In Minnesota this is a different procedure than a divorce. That is because a person does not have to be separated first before getting a divorce in the state. Besides filing the paperwork, a legal separation can take as much time as a divorce and there is a substantial cost involved as well. And just like a divorce, a legal separation can involve alimony, child and spousal support.

The major difference between a divorce and a legal separation is that in the eyes of the court a couple is still married even if they are legally separated. Now as long as this situation suits both spouses, then they can stay legally separated. However, if one or both of the parties wishes to remarry, then the ex-couple must go through a divorce. That is why it can be very beneficial to speak with a legal expert to help guide an individual through these tough personal decisions.

Source: www.mncourts.gov, "Annulment & legal separation," April 13, 2015

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