Divorce Versus Legal Separation in St. Louis
Amicably separating from your spouse with uncontested marital issues can make the process of ending a marriage a whole lot faster and cheaper. Divorce requires filing a petition for divorce and financial statements, negotiating a settlement, and ultimately a contested trial if you are not able to resolve your case amicably. There may or may not be discovery, such as subpoenas, depositions, interrogatories, and requests for productions of documents.
Alternatively, drafting a legally valid separation agreement with the assistance of a family law attorney can give you control over the process and help you avoid costly litigation.
What is the Difference between Legal Separation and Divorce?
Legal separation is almost identical to divorce. The only difference is at the end of the day, the parties are not divorced. They still have to file a petition for legal separation and the same financial paperwork. They still may have discovery and a trial. Estranged spouses must still divide all of their property and debt, determine child custody and child support, spousal maintenance, and attorney’s fees regardless of whether they legally separate or divorce. It can take just as long to become legally separated as it does to become divorced.
In a legal separation, the marriage is not considered irretrievably broken, and the parties must come back to court to get it converted into a divorce at a later date. This is not very common because it takes just as long as divorcing. You should explore the pros and cons of divorce versus legal separation in St. Louis.
The starting point for asset division is 50/50, and the Court must look at different factors that could sway this presumption. For example, they usually examine:
- Where the money for those assets came from
- Whether any of the assets are separate property
- Whether any assets were inherited or gifted
- The economic circumstances of both spouses
- Whether one person is making substantially more money than the other
- The conduct of both parties
Missouri is a no-fault state, so you do not have to prove fault to get a divorce or legal separation. However, fault can be considered in the division of marital property and debt or the award of attorney’s fees. If someone commits marital misconduct, that can affect how the court divides their property and debt.
For example, infidelity could negatively impact a person’s property rights. When the courts examine how money was spent, the court will determine whether one spouse spent money on a girlfriend or boyfriend, bought them jewelry, or took them on a trip.
Ask an Attorney about Divorce Versus Legal Separation in St. Louis
It is important to hire a lawyer with experience and knowledge of the local jurisdictions and judges. This means knowing their tendencies and how they typically rule on things, as well as knowing what they often do in certain situations.
There are some judges who are much more likely to order another party to pay someone’s attorney’s fees, and others are much more likely to order a higher level of maintenance. The difference in how each county treats divorce versus legal separation in St. Louis is huge. Knowing that information is very valuable, so call our team today to learn more.