Legal separation can bring relationship clarity & focus: Part I

It often takes a long time for unhappy couples to decide that divorce is both necessary and mutually desired. Long before filing for divorce, a couple may go through various stages of separation – most of them emotional in nature. During these “cooling off” periods, some couples decide that they want to try reconciliation while others confirm that divorce is right move.

Like nearly all other states, Missouri has laws allowing for legal separation. In this week’s posts, we’ll discuss why separation can be useful as an alternative to divorce, as way to rekindle a relationship or as a stepping stone toward divorce.

In rare cases, couples who no longer wish to be together will choose permanent legal separation over divorce. They may be unable or unwilling to divorce for religious reasons or for practical reasons (such as one spouse’s need to stay on the other’s health insurance policy). If a couple knows they are pursuing legal separation as an end in itself, they should work with their respective attorneys to set clear terms as to how the new relationship will work.

More often, couples will choose legal separation because they are unsure if divorce is what they ultimately want or need. Agreeing to give one another time and space is often a good way for each spouse to gain clarity about the marriage.

If each spouse approaches legal separation conscientiously, it could be a valuable asset that either allows for reconciliation or results in a divorce which is more amicable. If legal separation is just a matter of being apart, however, it may simply delay the inevitable divorce.

Please check back later this week as we continue our discussion. We’ll talk about what productive measures couples can take during a legal separation that may help mend the relationship or help it end amicably.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Does Taking a Break From Your Relationship Postpone the Inevitable?” Terry Gaspard, April 3, 2015

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