Marriage isn’t easy. It often takes a lot of time and effort to ensure that a marital relationship stays strong, and it may be a task that lasts for years or even decades. Many Missouri residents go to these great lengths to avoid divorce, but the truth of the matter is that they may have another option available to them.
In Missouri and other states in the Midwest, legal separation is recognized. This legal action is sort of a middle ground between divorce and remaining with a spouse under the same roof. While those who are legally separated are technically still married to each other, they can live apart from one another and address many of the same legal issues confronted by divorcing couples. For example, legally separated couples may address property division, child custody, child support and alimony when they decide to live apart.
Unlike a divorce, though, a family court judge can set a legal separation aside. Therefore, when the parties seek a legal separation, they essentially state that their marriage is not irretrievably broken and that their marriage is likely to survive if given more time. However, if, after a certain period of time, the marriage is deemed irretrievably broken, then the parties can easily convert their legal separation into a divorce. Thus, separation provides the opportunity for the parties to cool off and assess the future of their relationship before diving right into divorce.
There are many reasons why a couple may seek legal separation, including financial and religious reasons. Regardless of why legal separation is sought, the parties involved need to carefully consider the steps they need to take to protect themselves as fully as possible. In some circumstances, this may mean negotiating a favorable separation agreement. In other situations, it might mean filing for divorce. To determine which type of action is right in a particular set of circumstances, an individual should consider consulting a family law professional of their choosing. This ensure their rights and interests are protected throughout the process.