A legal separation is a separate and totally distinct legal remedy from divorce in the state of Missouri. While it is similar in many ways and even uses many of the same court orders, the ultimate ending is different. The parties remain married and no divorce is granted. For Missouri couples who are struggling with their marriage but are not yet ready to give up the fight to save their marriage, a legal separation may be the answer.
Knowing whether a legal separation is appropriate in your case can be difficult without proper advice, but an experienced Missouri divorce lawyer can provide you the information and legal advice you need to confidently make the right decision.
What is a Legal Separation?
A legal separation is formally called a "separate maintenance action" in the state of Missouri. A legal separation is not just a "trial separation," but is instead a binding legal agreement that covers various aspects of the marital and familial relationship. The agreement can cover
- spousal support (alimony),
- child custody,
- child support,
- division of assets,
- application of debts, and
- tax liability.
This binding legal agreement is important, as it protects your rights if you and your spouse cannot agree on how to proceed with a particular course of action. It will also protect your finances and the rights of your children. Without a legal agreement, you have nothing to decide how a conflict should be resolved.
How is a Legal Separation Different from a Divorce?
The main difference between the two is the end result. A dissolution action or a divorce terminates the marriage at the end. A termination of the marriage cannot be set aside or reversed (except by remarriage). A legal separation does not terminate the marriage, and can later be set aside by the judge if the couple reconciles.
Why Would I Choose a Legal Separation?
A legal separation may be the right choice for you and your spouse for many reasons.
Saving the Marriage
Many couples are not ready to end their marriage but know that they need a "break." A legal separation allows the couple to live apart, while still protecting their financial assets, their support, and the rights of any children of the marriage. Many couples choose this when the struggle could be overcome, such as
- reconciliation after marriage counseling,
- one spouse has a drug abuse problem but is seeking treatment, or
- one spouse's criminal conviction or prison time.
There are a ton of reasons why temporary separation may be the answer for you and your spouse. Deciding when it is right for you is an important question, and attorney Joshua Wilson can help.
Some couples will not divorce because of religious reasons. A legal separation is not a divorce; you and your spouse are still married. This allows couples to separate as they need without violating their religious beliefs or convictions.
Consult a Missouri Divorce Attorney
If you want to separate from your spouse but do not yet want to divorce (or are not sure what to do), seek the help of experienced Cass County attorney Joshua Wilson. You will go into the separation or divorce process with power, knowledge, and confidence.
Contact the Joshua Wilson Law Firm today at (816) 331-9968 for a consultation.