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Legal Separation

When your marriage hits a rough patch, you may feel like divorce is the only option. However, legal separation offers many St. Louis couples a valuable alternative.

Raza Family Law Solutions helps spouses considering a legal separation understand the process and how it differs from divorce. Our family law attorneys assess your eligibility and whether it’s the right choice for your family.

What is Legal Separation?

Legal separation is a court-ordered arrangement where spouses live apart while remaining legally married.

Unlike divorce, a legal separation doesn’t end your marriage; instead, it offers you protection while you address important issues during your time apart, such as:

For some couples, this family law contract offers several advantages over divorce:

  • It allows for a period of separation without ending the marriage, which is beneficial when you’re unsure about parting ways permanently or have religious beliefs that discourage it.
  • Legal separation gives you time to work out family issues with your spouse, such as child custody and financial support.
  • Separated spouses can often remain on each other’s health insurance plans, which can be a significant benefit.

Grounds for Legal Separation in Missouri

There are two grounds for legal separation in our state:

Marriage Broken Beyond Repair

This reason means your marriage is irretrievably broken, and there’s no reasonable likelihood you’ll get back together.

Legal Accord

If you and your spouse agree on the terms of your separation, you can draft and execute a contract under those grounds. This agreement should address all relevant issues, such as child custody, support, and property division.

How to Legally Separate in St. Louis

You can expect the following process when pursuing a legal separation.

1. Filing a Petition

To begin the process, you must file a petition for legal separation with the court. In Missouri, at least one spouse must have been a state resident for 90 days before filing.

2. Serving Your Spouse

You must serve your spouse with the separation papers after filing. This task can be done through personal service or, in some cases, by publication if your spouse’s whereabouts are unknown.

3. Temporary Orders

If necessary, the court can issue temporary court orders addressing issues like child custody, support, and who will live in the family home during the separation.

Key Issues in a St. Louis Legal Separation

During the legal separation process, you’ll need to address several critical matters in a written agreement that you’ll attach to your court petition:

Child Custody and Visitation

If you have children, the parents or the court will determine child custody and visitation based on the children’s best interests. The accord must specify sole custody, joint custody, or a combination of the two.

Child Support

You must also decide on child support payments based on parental income, the number of children, and the custody arrangement. Your agreement must also comply with the Missouri code on calculating charge support payments.

Spousal Support (Maintenance)

In some cases, one spouse may ask for financial support from the other. The parties must consider factors such as the length of the marriage, each spouse’s earning capacity, and the standard of living during the marriage when determining spousal support.

Property Division

Missouri follows the principle of equitable distribution when dividing property in a legal separation. This rule means that the court may divide marital property fairly, though not necessarily equally, based on factors like each spouse’s contribution to the marriage and their economic circumstances.

Converting a Legal Separation to Divorce

Raza Family Law Solutions can help you convert your separation to a divorce if you decide to end your marriage after a legal separation.

Missouri has a 90-day waiting period before you can ask for the modification. After this period, we’ll file a motion to convert, and the court will issue a final divorce decree.

Why Work with a Skilled St. Louis Legal Separation Law Firm

Trying to legally separate without professional help is a complex and challenging task. Raza Family Law Solutions has experienced St. Louis family law attorneys who can:

  • Mediate disputes between you and your spouse.
  • Help you negotiate fair agreements.
  • Draft a comprehensive separation agreement that complies with the Missouri family code.
  • Provide guidance and support throughout the process.

When choosing a legal separation lawyer, look for someone with:

  • Extensive experience in Missouri family law.
  • A record of success in legal separation cases.
  • Strong communication and negotiation skills.
  • A compassionate approach to client service.

Raza Family Law Solutions holds all the above qualities and much more.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does a legal separation take in Missouri?

The time it takes to finalize your legal separation depends on factors like case complexity and whether you and your spouse can agree on the terms of your separation. The process can generally take several months to a year to finalize.

Can I date during a legal separation?

You’re still married in the eyes of the law while you’re legally separated. Therefore, dating during a legal separation can impact issues like property division and spousal support if you decide to get a divorce later. So, it’s best to consult with a legal separation attorney before starting a new relationship.

How much does a legal separation cost in Missouri?

Costs depend on various factors, such as attorney fees, court costs, and the complexity of your case. On average, you can spend between five hundred and several thousand dollars when filing for legal separation. However, your expenses will decrease if you use mediation services to work out your disputes instead of litigating them in court.

Is Legal Separation Right for You?

Consult With Raza Family Law Solutions

A legal separation is an interesting option for St. Louis couples who need time apart but aren’t ready for dissolution.

Raza Family Law Solutions helps couples separate confidently, ensuring their future rights and interests are protected if they file for divorce later.

Schedule a consultation with an experienced St. Louis legal separation lawyer to figure out your options, negotiate fair agreements, and support you during this challenging time.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

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