St. Louis Legal Separation Lawyer
We’ve Been Helping Families for More Than 20 Years
Whether you have reservations about finalizing the end of your marriage or you wish to remain married for religious reasons, you may now be considering a legal separation. If this is the case, it is highly recommended that you discuss your options with a family law attorney at The Buxner Law Firm. We have been helping individuals and families throughout St. Louis, MO and all surrounding areas for more than two decades, so you can trust in us to provide the experienced legal representation that you both need and deserve.
Contact our office now to schedule your free, in-office, 30-minute consultation!
Legal Separation vs. Divorce
In Missouri, a legal separation and dissolution of marriage (divorce) are identical in all respects. The only difference is that the couple would still be married when a judgment of legal separation is issued. Apart from this, all of the same issues must be decided when petitioning the court for a legal separation—including how the property will be divided, who will get custody of the children and whether or not spousal maintenance should be awarded. This is an option for couples who, for one reason or another, wish to remain married.
Some of the reasons why a couple may choose separation over divorce include:
- They wish to remain married for religious reasons
- They wish to remain married for health insurance benefits
- The couple believes that their marriage can be salvaged
- One spouse is denying that their marriage is broken
Turning a Legal Separation into a Divorce
If a couple has decided to file for a legal separation in the hope that their marriage could be saved, the judgment of legal separation can be set aside by the judge at a later date. If a couple reconciles after initiating a divorce, however, it would be too late to set aside the judgment. On the other hand, if the couple decides to move forward with a divorce after initiating a legal separation, they could do so. In the state of Missouri, either party may file a motion with the court to convert their legal separation into a divorce after 90 days have passed; however, they would be prohibited from doing so any earlier than this 90-day period.
What if I want a divorce but my spouse doesn’t?
In terms of divorce, Missouri is a no-fault state. This means that a couple can legally end their marriage without having to prove fault. In most cases, the grounds for divorce will be that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” If only one spouse wishes to file for divorce, however, and the other denies that the marriage is broken beyond repair, the petitioning spouse will need to prove one or more of the following:
- The other spouse had an extramarital affair, making it hard to live together
- The other spouse behaved in such a way that living together is not an option
- The other spouse abandoned them for at least six continuous months
- Both spouses agreed to live separately for 12 continuous months
- Both spouses have lived separately for at least 24 continuous months
If the petitioning spouse cannot prove any of the aforementioned grounds, the court may choose to grant a legal separation instead. At this point, all of their property would be divided, a child custody arrangement would be put into place and child support may be ordered, if necessary. After the couple has been separated for at least 90 days, either spouse could choose to convert the separation into a divorce.
You Don’t Have to Face This Alone – Contact Us
Whatever the reason may be, if a legal separation is on the horizon for you and your spouse, it is imperative that you have an experienced divorce lawyer by your side. Just like a divorce, you will still need to make decisions regarding your property, children and financial support. For this reason, you shouldn’t attempt to handle this process on your own. The attorneys at The Buxner Law Firm have been handling family law matters for more than 20 years, so we ask you to give us a call today. We come highly recommended by past clients!
Are you ready to take the first step? Contact our office today or fill out a free case evaluation form online to get started. Our St. Louis divorce attorneys are ready to help you through this difficult time.