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Does Missouri Require Separation Before Divorce?

One of life’s most complicated decisions may be deciding to file for divorce. However, it does happen, and understanding the process is important while moving forward. While every divorce is unique, a common question married residents of the state often have is: does Missouri require separation before a divorce?

The short answer to this question is no. Unlike some states in the nation, Missouri has no official separation requirements for couples divorcing in the state. However, that doesn’t mean you can wake up one day, decide to divorce, and get things rolling the same way. There are a few rules you will need to follow.

This blog will look into the details of Missouri divorce and separation rules so you know what to expect. We’ll also share information about the differences between separation and divorce, how to start the divorce process, and what tools you may need as you move forward.

What Rules on Separation Are in Place in Missouri?

As we mentioned, there is no specific rule in place that says you need to be separated before you choose to start the divorce proceedings. However, there is a waiting period in place. This is less strict in terms of the rules that draw boundaries for a separation. Regardless, the waiting period must be completed before someone chooses to file for divorce in the state.

For divorcing couples in Missouri, the waiting period is 30 days long. That means spouses must live apart from each other for at least that long. The rules are limited in terms of what “living apart” means. Sometimes both people can remain in the same home together but are required to live and sleep apart from each other.

If you choose to separate, it can take many forms. Some couples will have a short-term temporary separation while others might live separated for several years. Separation can be an informal affair where spouses create their own agreements or a legal separation involving St. Louis divorce attorneys.

What Occurs After Separation in Missouri?

In most cases, a couple goes from separation to divorce. However, some couples do not decide to get divorced. This usually occurs when the individuals believe the marriage can still be saved even if negative things have happened in the past. A legal separation is an option in this case rather than a divorce. The separation ensures alimony, child support and custody, debts, and marital assets are determined during separation.

If the couple chooses to reconcile, the legal separation can be dismissed at that time. However, if the couple chooses to divorce, this can be chosen after a legal separation has started. Remember that legal separation is not a requirement of divorce in Missouri.

The Two Kinds of Missouri Divorce

Missouri divorces can either be contested or uncontested. It’s important to know the difference. A St. Louis divorce attorney can help you determine which is right for your situation. However, some basic information about both forms of divorce is available below.


A contested divorce occurs if you and your spouse are not capable of agreeing on everything related to the divorce. In nearly all situations, a contested divorce requires going through the court system to get the final divorce decree. Contested divorces tend to take longer to complete and are more expensive. The result of the divorce proceedings will largely depend on the skill, experience, and ability of your divorce lawyer.


In an uncontested divorce, both spouses agree on all aspects of the divorce. This includes everything from child custody to how property should be distributed. In this form of divorce, both people file for divorce as co-petitioners. The court will look over the decree. If it is approved, it’s part of the divorce decree. An uncontested divorce goes quicker, which benefits those who want a quick divorce. However, attorneys may not be involved in reviewing the joint petition, which means one person might get more favorable terms than the other.

Regardless of whether you seek an uncontested or contested divorce, Missouri is a no-fault divorce state. This means you can file for divorce for any reason and there is no separation required. You do not need to prove your spouse did something wrong to access a divorce. However, both parties must be residents of the state to file for divorce.

Get a Consultation from Expert Divorce Lawyers in Missouri

To get the best results from a bad situation, it’s essential to have an experienced divorce attorney in your corner. Trying to handle the process yourself will put you at a disadvantage. If you have children or significant assets, it’s even more essential you have an expert lawyer to protect your interests.

Reach out to us at St. Louis Divorce and Mediation to get assistance with your separation or divorce. J. Rench Law Firm is dedicated to helping you resolve your legal issues most efficiently. Mrs. Rench uses collaboration and communication to create the best solutions for families who are moving toward divorce. Contact us at 314-725-4000 for more information.

Related Content : What Is a Legal Separation in Missouri?



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