Obtaining a Legal Separation in the State of Missouri.
Home » Obtaining a Legal Separation in the State of Missouri.
Legal separation in Missouri is a provision recognized by the state. The couple has to sign a settlement agreement for the separation to be legal. The process of getting a legal separation is same as getting divorce and the grounds cited are also the same.
Basically, according to the statute of Missouri, legal separation is essentially a financial divorce. It is also termed as 'Separate Maintenance'. The residency requirement for filing for legal separation or divorce is 90 days prior to the date of filing. Both the parties are entitled to file for divorce 90 days after the legal separation is granted.
Grounds for Legal Separation in Missouri:
As Missouri is a no-fault divorce state, it is not a necessary requirement to cite grounds for legal separation. However, some grounds are specified by the statute. These grounds are as follows:
Statement of Property and Debt and Proposed Separation Agreement:
- Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage – As mentioned earlier, as Missouri is a no-fault divorce state, it is not necessary to mention the grounds for the legal separation. It is enough only if the couple states that there are irreconcilable differences between them, which have led to an irretrievable breakdown of marriage so that there are no hopes that the marriage can be saved or that the couple will reconcile. The legal separation can be easily obtained on these grounds as it is not necessary to prove these grounds.
- Adultery – Extra marital affairs, flings, one night stands, romantic liaisons, pregnancy out of marriage all constitute adultery. If either of the spouses commits adultery, the aggrieved spouse is entitled to file for a separation on this basis. Mutual trust and understanding is the base of any marriage and infidelity cannot be tolerated.
- Abandonment – If either of the spouse leaves the marital home for a period of six months without keeping any kind of contact with the married spouse, it is considered as abandonment. If the spouse is in touch through any means such as telephonic conversations or electronic communication, it cannot be termed as abandonment.
- Mutual Separation – If the couple has been living separately without indulging in sexual relations for a period of one year, the court can grant legal separation on the basis of mutual separation. Either of the partners moves out of the house or they stay in separate rooms in the same house. However, it is necessary that there should be no sexual contact between them for a period of one year.
- Living Separate and Apart Mutually – This ground is similar to the one mentioned above. If the couple has been living separate and apart for a period of 2 continuous years without any type of marital relations such as sexual relationship, the court can grant legal separation on the grounds of mutual separation for 2 years.
- Intolerable Behavior – Either of the partners is behaving in such a way that it becomes impossible or unsafe to stay together in the same house or to cohabit. It could be anything from habitual drug abuse to weird sexual fantasies which may hurt the other partner or the children.
The separation agreement in Missouri is termed as Statement of Property and Debt and Proposed Separation Agreement. This agreement deals with the child care arrangement as well as the settlement regarding finance. These issues are as follows:
- Child Custody – The child custody or the guardianship arrangement is made keeping the best interests of the child as a priority. The court usually takes into consideration the wishes of the parents, their earning ability, their financial condition, the child's adjustment to the home, school and the neighborhood, the mental and physical health of the child as well as the parents is also considered. The needs of the child, his / her rapport and relationship with both the parents are taken into consideration while granting the custody to both the parents.
- Child Support – As per the statute of Missouri, both the parents are supposed to contribute to the child's life in an active way. Thus, both the parents are liable to contribute a share of their income as their contribution for the child support. A child is not the only responsibility of the mother or the father and so both the parents are supposed to actively participate in school as well as other activities of the child. The needs of the child along with the financial conditions of the parents and other obligations if any are to be considered.
- Parenting Plan – Parents are supposed to prepare a visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent and an in detail plan of the visits, school breaks, vacations, birthdays, special days and other times when the child is supposed to be with the non-custodial parent. The rights and responsibilities of both the parents, along with the means of communication, the pickup and drop timings along with the transportation facility have to be mentioned specifically in the parenting plan.
- Property Settlement – The marital property is divided equitable between both the parties and the individual property remains with the owner. The other possessions such as inheritance, gifts, rewards etc. remain with the owner regardless of who paid for them. Besides, the real estate and other property are evaluated and the monetary compensation is given to the other party while the owner gets to keep it to themselves.
- Spousal Support – Whether a partner needs spousal support is decided on the basis of what remains after the division of the marital property and the fact that the spouse is engaged in a job that can aid in payments of bills or other liabilities. The financial resources of the supporting partner as well as the time required for the dependent partner to cope with the new financial situation are considered while determining the spousal support or alimony.