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How Long Does It Take To Get Legally Separated in Missouri?

As much as you would like to know exactly how long legal separation takes in Missouri, the answer to the question is far more complicated than a number. Even though it is not the same as divorce, the process and issues involved with separation encompass numerous variables.

Your marital relationship is not terminated, but you may need to address property, finances, and related issues. These matters affect timing, either drawing out legal separation or making for a smooth process. If you want to move on to a full divorce, there are also considerations that impact the timeframe.

The good news is that parties do have some control over these variables in legal separation. When your marriage is not irretrievably broken, there may be areas where you can agree. The spirit of compromise plays a powerful role, enabling parties to complete the process faster. Retaining a Missouri legal separation lawyer is also a wise decision, helping you avoid mistakes that cause delays. Some background information may help you understand the wide range of factors that influence timing.

Understanding Legal Separation in Missouri

Missouri’s statute on legal separation allows a court to enter an order for separation when there is a possibility that the parties may reconcile, so the marriage is not broken. The judge can consider and make provisions regarding property division, alimony, and child custody, visitation, and support, while still retaining the legal bond of matrimony. The process starts with one spouse filing a petition and serving the other with the documents.

The law requires a 30-day waiting period that must elapse before the court can enter a final order for legal separation. Therefore, it does take at least this long to get legally separated in Missouri.

Factors That Could Speed Up the Process in Missouri

There are a few strategies to expedite the proceedings, and they will typically require both parties to work together.

  • After the petitioner’s spouse files documents to initiate the process, the respondent can waive service. This means one spouse legally accepts the petition without the need to be officially served by a court officer, saving time and money.
  • During the 30-day waiting period, parties can be negotiating agreements on property division, alimony, and issues related to minor children.
  • If there are still disputes, you can turn to mediation as a way to get closer an agreement. A trained mediator will guide you in productive conversation toward settlement.

Delays with Legal Separation

It is unfortunate that a party would want to frustrate and delay the process, but getting legally separated will take longer when certain factors are present. Essentially, for every issue the parties cannot agree upon, the judge must hold a hearing. The proceeding is a trial, for which you must prepare and get on the court’s busy schedule. Delays can arise if:

  • A spouse hides or evades service of process when you attempt to provide paperwork.
  • Your spouse does not agree to legal separation, so you need to prove grounds in court.
  • The parties cannot compromise on property division, forcing a judge to decide equitable distribution.
  • Parents are unable to come up with a plan for child custody and parenting time.


Legal Separation v. Divorce in Missouri

Getting separated does not end the marriage, but you should be aware of how the timing affects a possible divorce case. If you do decide to dissolve the marriage, you can transition the settlement agreement or court order into a divorce decree. However, you must wait at least 90 days after the date of legal separation to convert the case to a full divorce. For spouses who decide to stay together, either can move to set aside the legal separation order.

Guidance from an Attorney

Aside from a willingness to compromise, retaining a knowledgeable lawyer also affects the time it takes to get a legal separation. When you have representation:

  • You avoid mistakes by preparing the petition, filing it in court, and making arrangements to serve your spouse.
  • You have an attorney to assist with negotiating your legal separation agreement and preparing all necessary paperwork for court.
  • You will have assistance during the mediation process, which extends settlement discussions.
  • You have a skilled lawyer to represent you in court for contested hearings on any disputes.

Call Now to Speak to a Missouri Legal Separation Attorney

It is encouraging to know that you have some control over how long it takes to get legally separated in Missouri and doing your best to compromise will expedite the proceedings. Even if you think an agreement is impossible, you may find success negotiating through your lawyer or mediation. For more information about timing and steps in the process, please contact St. Louis Divorce & Mediation to speak to a member of our team. You can schedule a consultation online to obtain personalized advice from a Missouri legal separation attorney.

Related Content: What is the Process for Legal Separation in Missouri?



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