Many couples use legal separation as a way to explore whether divorced life would truly benefit them or if they should work through their troubles to stay married. Some couples choose to get back together, and other couples choose to officially divorce following a legal separation. Legal separation often has a significant effect on divorce, mainly because provisions established in the separation agreements such as child custody or spousal support, may be carried over in a divorce. There are some ways in which legal separation might complicate divorce, however.
Many people have heard of legal separation, but to those who do not have direct experience with this legal area, exactly how legal separation differs from divorce may not be clear. After all, in both instances, the law recognizes the separation of a married couple, but the way in which that separation is recognized is crucial. When a couple is legally separated, they are still married despite the separation. Divorce involves a separation in which couples are no longer married.
Nobody would ever claim that marriage is easy. Relationships take work, and staying together through things like unexpected unemployment, moving to different states, raising children and any of the other issues that may arise during a marriage can easily put a strain on a couple's relationship. The simple truth is that circumstances change, life changes and a relationship may change as well. What was once a happy, loving relationship may instead become a hostile or apathetic union of two individuals who simply happen to be living together.
There are multiple types of separation when it comes to couples seeking a break from their marriage. Many people are aware of a trial separation, which allows couples to experience living apart without actually changing their marriage, and many are aware of divorce, which obviously dissolves a marriage and essentially divides a married life into two separate lives. What you may not know is that there is a middle ground.
Divorce is a concept that many people are familiar with, even if they have never gone through it themselves. Whether through movies and television shows, watching the news or knowing somebody who has gone through a divorce, most people understand the concept of legally dissolving a marriage and splitting the life the couple were leading. Issues such as asset division, child custody and child support are not foreign to most.
In some states, couples are required to be legally separated for an allotted time period before they can file for divorce. This is not the case in Missouri, however, couples do face a separation requirement after they actually file for divorce; this requirement is a 30-day period in which couples must live apart before divorce proceedings get underway. It is worth noting that just because couples are not required to legally separate before filing for divorce, they may wish to enter into legal separation for other reasons.
As with many aspects of family law, each state treats particular issues differently. When it comes to divorce, Missouri is a no-fault state, which means that divorces are often granted even if neither spouse is determined to be at fault of any marital offense such as adultery or abandonment/negligence. Additionally, there is no separation requirement couples must meet before filing for divorce. However, there are always multiple circumstances that could affect any given case, and divorce is no different.
The primary difference between legal separation and divorce is that a couple is still technically married, even if they are legally separated, whereas in a divorce, the marriage is ended. This is a particularly crucial distinction to make if a couple is unsure that they truly want their marriage to be ended, but they still wish to have many issue commonly covered by divorce to be mandated by the courts.
There is a bit of a social stigma surrounding divorce, wherein couples may feel that staying in an unhappy relationship is preferable to admitting that their marriage has failed. But despite what society may tell you, there is truly nothing wrong with recognizing that a once happy, healthy relationship has become a strenuous lifestyle. Things change throughout the course of a marriage, and things like loss of job or addition of children can completely alter your lifestyle and change the dynamic of your marriage. There is no shame in leaving a marriage that is not making you happy.
The primary difference between legal separation and divorce is that a couple remains married in the state of a legal divorce. Other than that, legal separation and divorce are very similar, and couples who go through legal separation proceedings will have court-mandated custody rights, visitation rights, and others. Because legal separation allows couples to gain some experience as to how divorced life would be for them, it is often used in instances when a married couple are unsure about their relationship.