Legal separation is one alternative to divorce. In Missouri, the process is called separate maintenance, and the marriage isn’t terminated by the state. Instead, the state issues orders that are the same as those that would be issued during a divorce.
In a legal separation, one spouse will file a petition for separate maintenance. The court enters a judgment of legal separation when the judge finds there is a reasonable likelihood the marriage can be preserved and isn’t completely broken. The court will also determine child custody and support, property division, and make a judgment about the spousal maintenance of either spouse.
From the time a couple first files, thirty days must pass before the court will grant a legal separation. A separate maintenance will allow the couple to have all the legal protections associated with a divorce without actually ending the marriage.
People decide to go with this option out of hopes of reconciliation or because the continued marriage will allow them to keep their health care plan or certain social security benefits. Likewise, for older couples, staying married might be the best course of action if the pair doesn’t want to split their retirement fund in half.
Divorce, on the other hand, is a better option if benefits are not a consideration. For example, if both spouses are working and have their own health care plans, they might not need to remain together, particularly if they hope to one day marry another person in the future. With a divorce, the couple is legally and completely separated.
If you’re interested in exploring which option would be best for you, talk to one of our skilled St. Charles divorce attorneys in a case consultation. The lawyers at Smith Law Offices, LLC help Missouri couples deal with family law issues such as divorce and separation. Let us see what we can do for you.
Call us at (636) 400-1177 or fill out our online form to schedule your case consultation today.