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The difference between legal separation and divorce

10783413_S.jpgWhile some Missouri spouses might be ready to end their marriages, others may just want to spend time away from their partners. In cases when divorce may seem like a step too far, couples can file for legal separation instead.

A divorce effectively ends a marriage. With a legal separation, however, spouses are still married but live apart. Similar to what happens in a divorce, a court order details the duties and rights of each spouse. The court may make determinations about child custody and visitation, separation maintenance and property division during this time.

Separation maintenance refers to what is known as alimony and child support during a divorce. If a couple does eventually divorce, the separation maintenance amounts will likely influence support payments. Property division typically works differently with legal separation as the way property is divided depends on the kind of separation that occurs.

Instead of a legal separation, a trial separation might occur. During this time, a couple lives apart while deciding whether or not to continue a marriage. The court does not make determinations for a trial separation. Debt and property acquired during this time are considered martial property as no legal changes are made to the status of a marriage.

Living separately and permanent separation are two types of legal separation. Under these conditions, legal changes to the marriage may occur. Property and debt acquired might be considered separate property.

There is a waiting period in Missouri where couples must live separately when filing for divorce. Aside from this, some couples may be curious about legal separation. While not the same as a divorce, one may still wish to consult a lawyer before seeking a legal separation.

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