When your marriage is not going well, you may consider divorce. In some situations, though, divorce is not the right answer. Missouri offers you an alternative. According to the Missouri Courts, you can file for a legal separation. This allows you to have a formal decision on your relationship without the permanent effects of a divorce.

A separation allows you to have the chance to eventually reconcile. People often choose this option if they are unsure about divorcing or if they want to stay legally married for some other reason. Some people may have religious objections to divorce or want to stay married for tax purposes. The key to this process is that you and your spouse retain all the legal rights of marriage, but you now live separately.

A legal separation is done through the court like a divorce. It also has some of the similar processes. You will divide your property, decide custody issues and set up child support and spousal support. You will create a written agreement that the court must approve. This is very similar to the divorce process. Everything decided upon in your separation agreement becomes binding once it is approved by the court. Just as with a divorce, you must follow the agreement or risk legal consequences.

In the future, you can change the status of your separation. You may ask the court to have the ruling set aside and resume living together as a married couple. Your other option is to convert the separation into a dissolution of your marriage. This information is for education and is not legal advice.