Like other states, Missouri has a process called legal separation. In essence, a legal separation allows a married couple to live apart while being protected by a state court via order for property division, child custody and support and the like. At the same time, the couple remains legally married.
Legal separation has been described as a middle ground for those who feel the need to maintain separate households, sometimes for very compelling reasons like domestic violence, yet they wish to remain married for religious or moral reasons. The process does not end a couple’s marriage, yet it goes a lot further in protecting the parties than simply having one party move out of the family home.
Sometimes, people even may wish to not go forward with a divorce for strictly practical or financial reasons, or they may just not be emotionally ready to take such an important step.
Legal separations are by nature temporary in Missouri, so judges have some additional power to be flexible when making orders. In this respect, should a couple who has undergone a legal separation decide to reconcile their differences, they can simply ask the judge to set aside the order. They do not have to formally remarry each other. On the flip side, after about three months, a separation can be changed in to a divorce without much trouble.
There are certain legal requirements those who want a separation have to meet or, at least, be aware of. For instance, they must be willing to allege in their request that they think their marriage can be saved. Other legal requirements may apply, and these should be discussed with one’s family law attorney. Incidentally, for those Kansas City residents who live on the other side of the Missouri River, Kansas also recognizes legal separations.