What is the difference between legal separation and informal separation?

A difference exists in Minnesota between a legal separation, one where there is a legal process that is done, and an informal separation, one where the couple either lives apart or in the same home but the marital relationship is over.

Informal separation is very common.  There is no court process that happens.  It is when a couple goes their own way financially and emotionally all the while still being legally married.  Some people are informally separated for a few months.  Others are informally separated for a few years.  An informal separation is an option.  It is when additional debts and assets of the continuing marriage may be considered belonging to the person who obtained that property.  Thus, that date of informal separation can affect the division of assets and debts.

Legal separation is a court process where documents are filed with the court to divide assets and debts with the marriage still in place.  Couples sometimes choose a legal separation for religious reasons or to keep medical insurance in place.  Others choose legal separation with the hope or thought a marriage may be saved in time.  The couple needs to come to an agreement signed by both of them resolving the division of assets and debts, spousal maintenance and issues involving their children such as physical custody and a parenting time schedule.

There are times that an informal separation is better than a legal separation and vice versa.  Speaking with a family law attorney can help a person plan the more advantageous option.

Contact experienced family law attorney Jessica L. Sterle to schedule a consultation by calling (218) 722-2655.

Jessica Sterle