Legal Separation

Let us be your voice, your adviser and your advocate.

St. Louis Legal Separation Attorney

What do you do when your marriage is in trouble and you don’t think you can live together anymore, but neither of you wants to get a divorce? Perhaps you need some space to work on your relationship in hopes of reconciling later, or perhaps divorce isn’t an option for religious reasons. Whatever your reason for not wanting a divorce, contacting a legal separation attorney may be the solution.

If you are contemplating a legal separation in St. Louis County or the St. Louis metropolitan area, the experienced St. Louis divorce and family law attorneys at Grant, Miller & Smith, LLC, can help. Our skilled legal professionals will be your advocates as you navigate your way through this difficult process and into the next stage of your life.

Our attorneys have more than 75 years of combined experience, and both Henry Miller and William Grant have been selected as Super Lawyers in honor of their achievements as attorneys. When you’re going through a legal separation, you need skilled and experienced lawyers on your side. Contact Grant, Miller & Smith, LLC  today.

Can I Handle a Legal Separation on My Own?

If you’re thinking about filing for a legal separation in the St. Louis area, you need the help of a skilled legal separation attorney who can help you make sense of the process and take the steps you need to take. For the most part, a legal separation works the same as a divorce. However, there are a few minor differences.

If you wish to file for a legal separation rather than a divorce, Missouri law requires the following conditions to be met:

If these conditions are met, and if 30 days have passed since you filed the petition, the court can grant a legal separation.
The family law attorneys at Grant, Miller & Smith, LLC, have the experience and knowledge to help you put together a separation agreement that will satisfy the court and get you the results you are looking for.

What is Legal Separation?

People sometimes pursue legal separation before divorce because they aren’t yet certain they want to cut their legal ties. They may also choose legal separation instead of divorce, usually for one of the following reasons:

Under Missouri law, legal separation is almost the same as dissolution of marriage or divorce. Both legal separation and divorce resolve issues such as child custody, child support, visitation, the division of property, and spousal maintenance.

The only difference between them is that the couple is still married after a legal separation. Because the couple is still married, a judge can later set aside the separation if the couple reconciles. A judge cannot set aside a divorce.

Divorce is a more permanent decision than separation because separation leaves the door open in a way that divorce does not. However, even if you are legally separated, you can still make the decision to get divorced. You just have to wait 90 days after your separation goes into effect.

How Common is Legal Separation in Missouri?

St. Louis couples decide to try legal separation far less frequently than they decide to get divorced. According to a recent study by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, there were 17,698 divorces in Missouri in a year, compared to only 100 legal separations.

Why is legal separation so rare compared to divorce? Perhaps most couples who reach that stage in their relationship have no doubt that they want to split up, or perhaps few people consider themselves bound by strict beliefs that forbid divorce. Either way, legal separation does exist for those who prefer that option.

Separation Agreements

Your legal separation lawyer will help you draw up the terms of your separation agreement, which will resolve all the relevant issues in your separation. This can include custody of the kids, visitation and child support issues, spousal maintenance, and disposition of property.

However, there is one circumstance in which the court does not necessarily have to approve the separation agreement you present. Under Missouri law, if the court finds that the agreement as written is “unconscionable,” then it can set aside the agreement and set its own terms for the separation. For example, if the separation agreement divides up the property in a way that just isn’t fair to one side or the other, the court may decide not to approve your separation agreement.

A typical separation agreement will go into a lot of detail about the disposition of property, addressing issues such as the ownership of homes, condominiums, boats, airplanes, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, life insurance, and any debts on either side. To avoid having a court throw out your settlement agreement as “unconscionable,” make sure that the division of property is as fair as you can make it. A legal separation attorney can help with this process by negotiating the property division in such a way that you retain ownership of the things that are most important to you while still dividing the marital property fairly with your spouse.

Divorce Mediation

Divorce mediation can be a solution for separated couples seeking to resolve outstanding conflicts in a way that will satisfy both parties. In mediation, a neutral third party helps both people involved in a dispute to understand each other’s real interests and why they are taking the positions they are taking. The mediator can help you work through your disagreements and come to an arrangement that will satisfy both of you, even if you no longer get along and you find it difficult to communicate with each other. In some cases, mediation can even help teach you communication and negotiation skills that will make future conversations easier and less conflict-ridden.

Get Help from a Seasoned Missouri Legal Separation Attorney

No one enters a marriage with the goal of eventually becoming separated, but sometimes, it’s the best solution for everyone involved. In some cases, a legal separation may be just the first step toward an eventual divorce. In others, it may only be a temporary break that gives both of you the space to work on reconciliation.

No matter what the circumstances of your legal separation may be, it’s not a good idea to try to represent yourself. Family law is complicated, and separation is a highly emotional matter. It’s smart to seek the help of a qualified professional who can look out for your interests and be your voice in this difficult time. 

For anyone contemplating a legal separation in Ladue, Wildwood, Chesterfield, or anywhere in St. Louis County, the best course of action is to seek a legal consultation with an experienced legal separation attorney who can walk you through the process and help you make the best decisions possible to safeguard your future.

With combined experience of more than seven decades, the attorneys at Grant, Miller & Smith, LLC, are knowledgeable in all family law matters, including legal separation. Schedule a meeting with our legal separation attorney or call us for a phone consultation today.