divorced couple

Should You and Your Spouse Separate Before Getting Divorced in Missouri?

When you know that your marriage is over, figuring out the next steps can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re trying to decide if pursuing a legal separation first is the right move. Every situation and every relationship is unique and faces its own challenges. While there’s no right answer, filing for separation can be a good fit in some instances, but there are some things you need to know about separation before you ask your Missouri divorce lawyer to start the process.

divorced couple

There’s No Legal Requirement for Separation

Under Missouri law, there’s no need for couples to legally separate before filing for divorce. You’re permitted to live together as long as you’re comfortable with the situation and still pursue a divorce. But just because there’s no legal requirement doesn’t mean that separating isn’t a good idea. By separating from your spouse, you’ll gain the space you need to reevaluate your personal situation, your emotions, and your long-term goals. It’s an opportunity to gain a new perspective on your life and what you want from the future. 

Separation Can Help You Make Sure Divorce Is the Right Option

Filing for legal separation means you and your spouse are still married under the eyes of the law, but you’re able to live your lives separately. The separation can always be undone if you and your spouse decide to reconcile and get back together. Divorce, on the other hand, is permanent. While you could remarry if you and your spouse decide to get back together after the divorce is complete, it can take more time and may potentially be more expensive. Separation gives you the opportunity to make sure that divorce is the right choice in the long run without committing to the permanent decision upfront.

Legal Separation May Protect Your Ability to Receive Benefits

If you’re dependent on your spouse’s health insurance and other benefits, divorce may end your ability to receive those benefits. This is because once the divorce is final, you’re no longer considered a dependent and are therefore ineligible for benefits through their employer. If you’re currently experiencing health issues or are undergoing routine medical treatments, legal separation may help you retain your benefits. Though you and your spouse are living separately, you may still qualify as a dependent. This can help you receive certain tax benefits, too.

Separation Doesn’t Prevent You From Divorcing in the Future

It’s important to note that a legal separation doesn’t prohibit you from pursuing divorce in the future. If you and your spouse separate and decide that a more permanent solution is worth pursuing, you’re free to do so. If you do decide that divorce is the right choice, you’ll want to speak with an attorney to help guide you through the process.

Discuss Your Options With a Missouri Divorce Lawyer

Legal separation can be a great tool to help couples decide if pursuing a divorce is the right option while preserving certain rights and benefits they’ve gained through marriage. If you’re trying to decide which option is right for your situation, speak to your Missouri divorce lawyer and let them help. They’ll be able to give you detailed information about how a legal separation or divorce will impact and potentially benefit your life.

Ready to explore your options? Contact Columbia Family Law Group today to schedule a consultation.