Legal separation lets couples live separately while they maintain their marital status. It is an alternative to divorce that offers a structured framework to address vital concerns like child custody, property vision, and spousal support. In Maplewood, Missouri, legal separation can be a great option for couples who have personal, religious, or financial reasons not to pursue a divorce. You can learn more here about this legal process.
If you and your spouse are legally separated, your marriage remains valid, which can be vital for some religious beliefs or health insurance concerns. You and your spouse live in separate homes and do not share financial responsibilities. A binding agreement will summarize each party’s rights and obligations during the separation.
Legal Separation Requirements
If you want to pursue a legal separation, you must meet the following requirements:
- Residency. You or your spouse should have been a resident in Missouri for 90 days or more before you file a petition in court. If you are the one filing, you must do so in the county where you or your spouse lives.
- Grounds. In Missouri, you pursue legal separation based on grounds like abandonment, irreconcilable differences, or cruelty. A lot of couples use irreconcilable differences as their grounds and include issues such as infidelity, financial disputes, and being physically separated for a long time.
- Separation agreement. You and your spouse should agree to the separation’s terms including child custody, property division, and spousal support. You should consider having an attorney draft a detailed separation agreement to avoid conflicts in the future.
- Parenting plan. If children are involved in your separation, you must have a plan that outlines who gets child custody and visitation rights. The best interests of your children must be your main consideration when you determine custody arrangements.
- Petition filing. You or your spouse should file a petition for legal separation with the court. The other spouse must respond to the petition to formalize the process.
- Waiting period. The court will issue a judgment on your petition thirty days from the filing date. Such a waiting period offers the opportunity for you and your spouse to reconcile.
Legal Separation Benefits
Opting for legal separation instead of getting a divorce offers many benefits. Legal separation allows you and your spouse to maintain your marital status while you live separately. Also, you are still on the health insurance plan of your spouse. Legal separation lets you divide assets and debts fairly and equitably. Your separation agreement can include child custody and support provisions that protect the best interests of your children.