Filing for divorce in Missouri is relatively complex. It is important to be aware of the state’s divorce laws before you begin the filing process. The divorce will have a significant impact on your finances, so it is a good idea to retain knowledgeable Kansas City divorce lawyers to represent you throughout the legal process.
Missouri Divorce Requirements
The requirements to file for divorce in Missouri are minimal. The petitioner must have been a resident of the state for at least 90 days and must affirm to the court that they believe their marriage is irretrievably broken.
That last requirement is usually the sticking point in Missouri divorces. If the judge presiding over the case doesn’t agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken, they can refuse to issue a dissolution of marriage order and instead order a legal separation.
If one spouse does not agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken then the other must prove one of the following to be granted the divorce:
- The other spouse committed adultery and it intolerable to live together
- The other spouse behaved in a way that makes it unreasonable for them to live together
- The other spouse abandoned the filing spouse for six months before the filing
- The spouse have lived apart for 12 months before the filing by agreement by mutual agreement or have lived apart for 24 months before filing
Types of Divorce and Separation in Missouri
Missouri only recognizes no-fault divorces. This means the petitioner doesn’t usually have to show a reason for the divorce. The only types of divorce in the state are:
- Uncontested divorce. When both parties agree about all the issues in the divorce, they only need to go before a judge once to get the divorce approved.
- Contested divorce. If the parties disagree on any points, the judge will determine those elements. When pa
- Legal separation. A spouse can seek a separation by filing a separation agreement or filing a request for separate maintenance. Courts can also a order legal separation if a divorce is requeested but the judge does not accept that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
Child Custody, Support and Visitation in Missouri
Courts make the final determination about child custody, support and visitation in Missouri. Typically, the courts seek to ensure that both parents maintain as strong a relationship with their children as possible and that the best interests of any children are protected.
When determining child custody, the courts favor joint custody in Missouri, but every case is assessed individually based on:
- Wishes of the parents
- Wishes of the children
- Needs of the children
- Relationships the child has with other family and friends
- Which parent is more likely to support the child in having meaningful contact with the other parent
- Where the child lives and goes to school
- Incidents of abuse
- The mental and physical health of everyone involved
Property Division in Missouri
The state of Missouri uses equitable distribution to determine property division in a divorce. Equitable division means that marital assets are not guaranteed to be split 50/50 between the litigants. Instead, the judge splits marital assets based on what they see as a fair distribution.
The state also has no specific guidelines for spousal support. A judge may determine that spousal support is necessary based on the financial situation of both parties. When spousal support is ordered, it typically is for a set amount of time and can be modified if circumstances change for either party.
Filing and Serving Your Divorce Papers
Divorce claims must be filed with the court located in the county where either the petitioner or the respondent resides. You must file a Peition as well as several other forms available on the Missouri Judicial Branch website. IA Kansas City divorce lawyer will know how to fill out the form, where to file it and what other information is needed.
Once the petition has been filed, the respondent must be notified of the petition. Most petitioners serve their spouse either through a process server or sheriff. If your spouse agrees with the divorce and all its terms, they can file an Entry of Appearance and Waiver of Service and do not have to be served.
Finalizing Your Divorce
Even when a divorce is uncontested, you need to attend at least one hearing with the judge, who must approve the dissolution of the marriage. When the divorce is contested, you will usually attend multiple hearings where you will be represented by your Kansas City divorce lawyer.
Once the judgment is signed, the divorce won’t be finalized for 30 days. During this time, you or your spouse can file an appeal. If neither party files an appeal, transfers of property and assets should be performed before the 30 days run out.