legal separation vs divorce

Legal Separation Vs. Divorce in Missouri – Answering Common Questions

When you and your spouse decide it’s time to end your relationship, it’s normal to assume that divorce is your only option. And while divorce may be the right choice, it’s not the only one you have. For many couples, pursuing a legal separation over a divorce may be a better fit. Your Missouri divorce lawyers at Columbia Family Law Group want you to understand the key differences between each separation method so you can make the best choice for your needs. Let’s take a look at some frequently asked questions so you can be better prepared.

legal separation vs divorce

What Is the Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce in Missouri?

Divorce is a complete dissolution of your marriage. All assets are divvied up and once the case is finished, you and your spouse will have no obligations to one another save for child support agreements or alimony agreements. Legally, you’ll be defined as two unmarried individuals and can date or remarry as you see fit without issue.

Legal separation has many of the hallmarks of divorce, but once the case is finished, you and your spouse are still technically married. You’re free to continue living with each other or move out on your own based on your situation and your long-term goals. As with a divorce, your assets will be divided and any custody agreements or child support arrangements will be made. But you’ll still be legally married to your spouse once all is said and done.

How Can I Tell Which Option Is Right For Me?

Deciding between a formal divorce or a legal separation is a matter of personal preference and largely depends on the needs of yourself and your family. Legal separation offers many of the benefits of divorce, but allows you and your spouse to remain married in the eyes of the law. 

That means you may be able to take advantage of the joint tax filing status and can maintain the same health insurance if you and your spouse are on the same plan. For families going through medical crises, legal separation can ensure continued health insurance coverage, thereby reducing the financial burden on the ill spouse. 

The best thing you and your spouse can do is speak with a Missouri divorce lawyer. They’ll be able to explain the pros and cons of both options in detail to help you decide.

Can I Go On Dates If I’m Separated But Not Divorced in Missouri?

There’s no legal reason that you can’t go on dates with other people when you’re legally separated. However, under Missouri law, you cannot remarry without first divorcing your current spouse. 

If you think you’ll want to remarry soon, you may find that filing for divorce is a better choice. Furthermore, if you and your spouse agree that a divorce is the right option at any point while filing for legal separation, you can always switch the filing to a divorce.

Both Divorce and Legal Separation Are Viable Options

If you’re considering legally separating from your spouse or want to explore your options in more detail, work with an experienced Missouri divorce lawyer. At Columbia Family Law Group, our team will help you and your spouse choose the best option for your needs and goals. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.