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Missouri Legal Separation Laws

Missouri Legal Separation Laws

Marriage can be a great gift as you have a partner to work with while going through life, but it also comes with many challenges. Sometimes these challenges may seem irreconcilable, but a couple may still want to stay married. This can be due to financial or religious reasons, because it would be in the best interests of any children, or because there may be a chance of reconciliation in the future. Because of this, many states offer a middle ground called legal separation. Missouri is no different as it has a process for legal separation, although it's formally referred to as a “separate maintenance action.”

With this type of action, a Missouri court can enter an order which will legally separate the parties while retaining their legally-recognized marital relationship. The order can provide for the same types of issues as an order of divorce (dissolution), such as:

Missouri provides some flexibility with orders of legal separation. For example, while a divorce order cannot be set aside in Missouri, if a couple is legally separated and later reconciles, the judge can set aside the separation order. Also, where a couple is unable to reconcile and decides later to divorce, Missouri provides a relatively easy process to convert a separation order into a divorce order. However, this must be done at least 90 days after the separation order is issued. So, while a legal separation is not required prior to a divorce, it can be a helpful step to take if a couple is not sure whether to move forward with a divorce.

Missouri Legal Separation Laws: An Overview

For more information on specific separation laws in Missouri, including the grounds for legal separation, consult the chart below.


Grounds for Legal Separation

A petition for legal separation must allege that the marriage is not irretrievably broken and there is a reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved.

Legal Separation Required for Divorce?



Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Missouri Legal Separation Laws: Related Resources

Learn More About Missouri Legal Separation Laws from an Attorney

Depending on your family and financial situation, a legal separation in Missouri may be preferable to a divorce. Fortunately, you can contact a skilled divorce lawyer in Missouri who can advise you on legal separation and any other related issues.

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