In the state of Missouri, there is not an official legal separation requirement. There is, however, a thirty-day waiting period after a divorce is filed. During this thirty-day waiting period, the spouses must be living separately from each other. Understanding the different legal nuances of divorce under Missouri law can be tricky at times. It often takes an experienced Missouri divorce lawyer to assist spouses throughout the legal divorce process.

As Springfield, MO, divorce attorneys, we take pride in educating and assisting spouses and families through all family-related legal proceedings. Consulting a qualified attorney can save you the time, stress, and struggle of trying to understand divorce proceedings on your own. Understanding the concepts of legal separation and divorce and how they apply under Missouri law can be beneficial to all parties involved in a potential divorce or separation.

How long do you have to be separated to get a divorce in Missouri?

Waiting Period

For spouses who are divorcing in Missouri, there is a thirty-day waiting period that must be fulfilled before the divorce can be filed. This waiting period can be less strict than a legal separation. The rules and boundaries can be somewhat flexible depending on the circumstances of the case.

For example, there are instances in which spouses can be considered to be living separately but continue to live in the same house. This is provided that the spouses live and sleep separately within the house.

The intention behind the thirty-day waiting period is to ensure adequate time for the spouses to cool down and avoid making any possible impulse decisions.

What Is a Legal Separation?

Legal separation is a court-ordered arrangement in which spouses are required to live separately. It carries the same obligations and rights as a divorce, but it does not officially end the marriage. Under a legal separation, the spouses can live separate lives and separate their finances and financial obligations, but they are still legally married.

A legal separation may not always be the right option for spouses. A separation agreement has to be agreed upon and signed. The separation agreement essentially defines how all issues will be resolved, such as child support, alimony, division of assets, and so on. In many situations, spouses decide to just file for an uncontested divorce as it can require essentially the same amount of work as a legal separation can require.

Legal separations, while official and final, often do not provide a lasting solution for the spouses as they do not dissolve the marriage. It is important to note that under a legal separation, neither spouse is legally able to remarry, take on large debts, or sell their property. In order to achieve these things, a divorce order is generally required. After ninety days, a legal separation can be turned into a divorce decree that is final by a Missouri judge.


Q: Does Missouri Require Legal Separation Before Divorce?

A: There is not a legal separation requirement before divorce under Missouri law. There is, however, a thirty-day waiting period after a divorce is filed in which the parties must be living separately from one another. While the state of Missouri does recognize and, in some instances, encourages legal separation, it is not an official requirement before filing for divorce. It should be noted that you must be a resident of the state of Missouri for at least 90 days before filing for divorce.

Q: How Quickly Can a Divorce Be Finalized in Missouri?

A: The timeline can vary on how quickly divorce cases can be finalized. It often depends on if there is a legal battle that ensues. If the divorce is contested, the case can become more complex and can take up to six months to a year to be settled. The case can also become more complicated if children or dependents are involved. If the divorce is uncontested and is relatively simple, then the case can be settled in as little as ninety days.

Q: Can a Spouse Refuse a Divorce in Missouri?

A: In short, no, a spouse cannot stop the divorce process by not signing the divorce papers. It is not uncommon for a spouse to refuse to sign the divorce papers. Although this can potentially slow the divorce process down, it will not ultimately stop the divorce. The spouse generally has thirty days to respond to the divorce petition before being served. There are options available for judges to grant divorce in the event that one spouse refuses to cooperate.

Q: How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce if Both Parties Agree in Missouri?

A: A situation in which both parties agree to the divorce is considered an uncontested divorce. In an uncontested divorce, both parties are already in agreement, or they are able to quickly come to an agreement with minimal court involvement after the divorce petition is filed. If a divorce attorney is involved, then the attorney can prepare and present the paperwork before the court for approval. Generally speaking, an uncontested divorce can take about thirty to ninety days to finalize.

Stange Law Firm

Filing for a divorce can be an uncomfortable and unwelcoming process, especially if there are children involved. However, it is sometimes the necessary thing to do for you and your family’s living situation. Our experienced attorneys understand the legal divorce process and the emotional stress that it can cause to everyone involved.

If you have been involved in a divorce proceeding or family law-related case and you need legal assistance or mediation services, Stange Law Firm has committed resources available to you. We have vast experience with every aspect of divorce and any complication that could arise.

At Stange Law Firm, we have dedicated ourselves to providing assistance to those involved in divorce or family-related legal issues. We have been ranked by Law Firm 500 as one of the fastest-growing law firms in the United States, and we have dedicated professionals ready to assist in all matters pertaining to Missouri divorce law. Contact an experienced divorce attorney today for assistance in any and all matters related to divorce proceedings.