Missouri revised statutes set forth a procedure for legal separation as an alternative to divorce. Legal separation technically is called "separate maintenance" under Missouri law. A legal separation proceeding results in the court issuing all but one of the same orders found in a divorce case: The court does not terminate a marriage in a Missouri separate maintenance case.
Petition for Separate Maintenance
A legal separation case in Missouri commences with the filing of a petition for separate maintenance. Missouri Revised Statutes Section 452.310 sets forth the specific provisions that must be included in a petition for separate maintenance. These required provisions include the date and location of the marriage as well as the date the parties physically separated or stopped living together as husband and wife. The petition also must identify the names and ages of any children and any agreements the couple has made regarding custody and financial support of the children. A petition for separate maintenance does not request a dissolution of the marriage.
Benefits of Separate Maintenance
There are two general situations in which a couple benefits from a separate maintenance case in Missouri, as opposed to a divorce. Individuals of certain religions avoid divorces because of their beliefs. There are religions that frown on or prohibit divorces. A separate maintenance case also permits a couple the ability to obtain all of the legal protections associated with a divorce without actually having to end a marriage.
If a couple holds out hope of reconciliation, a legal separation is an appropriate option. Because the couple remains married, the legal separation case needs only to be dismissed to permit a full reconciliation.
Missouri separate maintenance laws are as complex as those associated with divorce proceedings in the state. If you are facing a legal separation case in the Show Me State, consider seriously engaging the services of an experienced Missouri divorce lawyer. The Missouri Bar Association provides a directory of attorneys in difference practice areas, including family. Contact the Missouri Bar Association at:
Missouri Bar Association 326 Monroe Jefferson City, MO 65102-0119 573-635-4128 mobar.org
- Missouri Revised Statutes: Legal Separation
- "Essential Guide to Divorce"; Emily Doskow; 2008
- Hand and document at the meeting image by Dmitry Goygel-Sokol from Fotolia.com