How Do I File for Divorce in Missouri

How Do I File for Divorce in Missouri?

Going through a divorce can be an overwhelming and emotional process. If you are considering filing for divorce in Missouri, it is essential to understand the necessary steps and requirements. This article will guide you through the process and address some frequently asked questions regarding divorce in Missouri.

Filing for Divorce in Missouri: Step by Step

1. Residency Requirement: To file for divorce in Missouri, either you or your spouse must be a resident of the state for at least 90 days before filing.

2. Grounds for Divorce: Missouri is a no-fault divorce state, which means neither party needs to prove wrongdoing. The most common ground for divorce is irreconcilable differences, meaning the marriage cannot be saved.

3. Petition for Dissolution: The process begins by filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the circuit court in the county where you or your spouse resides. This document outlines the reasons for the divorce and your desired outcome.

4. Serving the Petition: After filing, you must serve a copy of the petition to your spouse, allowing them time to respond.

5. Waiting Period: Missouri has a mandatory 30-day waiting period from the date of filing before a divorce can be finalized. This gives both parties an opportunity to reconcile or settle any outstanding issues.

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6. Negotiating Settlement: If you and your spouse can reach an agreement on important issues such as division of property, child custody, and support, you can submit a written agreement to the court.

7. Court Proceedings: If an agreement cannot be reached, the divorce will proceed to court. Each party presents their case, and a judge will make decisions on unresolved matters.

8. Finalizing the Divorce: Once the court has made a decision, a judgment of dissolution will be issued, officially ending the marriage. It is important to note that divorce decrees may be modified in the future if circumstances change.

9 Frequently Asked Questions about Divorce in Missouri

1. How long does it take to get a divorce in Missouri?
The time it takes to finalize a divorce in Missouri varies depending on the complexity of the case and the court’s schedule. On average, it can take anywhere from a few months to over a year.

2. Do I need an attorney to file for divorce?
While it is not required by law, it is highly recommended to consult with an experienced divorce attorney. They can guide you through the legal process, protect your rights, and ensure a fair settlement.

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3. How is property divided in a Missouri divorce?
Missouri follows the principle of equitable distribution, which means marital property is divided fairly but not necessarily equally. The court considers various factors, including each party’s contribution and economic circumstances.

4. Can I get spousal support?
Spousal support, also known as alimony, may be awarded if one spouse is financially dependent on the other and requires assistance post-divorce. The court considers factors such as the length of the marriage, earning capacity, and standard of living.

5. How is child custody determined?
Child custody is determined based on the best interests of the child. Missouri encourages joint custody, but the court will consider various factors, including the child’s relationship with each parent, their preferences, and the ability to provide a stable environment.

6. Can I modify child custody or support orders in the future?
Yes, child custody and support orders can be modified if there is a significant change in circumstances that warrants a modification. However, it is important to seek legal advice and follow the appropriate legal process.

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7. What happens if my spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers?
If your spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers, it can complicate the process. You may need to serve them with the papers through a process server or sheriff’s office. Ultimately, the court can grant a divorce even if one party is uncooperative.

8. Can I change my name during the divorce process?
Yes, you can request a name change as part of the divorce proceedings. The court will typically grant the request unless there are valid reasons to deny it.

9. Can I get a divorce if I cannot locate my spouse?
If you are unable to locate your spouse, you can still proceed with a divorce by demonstrating to the court that you made reasonable efforts to find them. This may involve publishing a notice in a local newspaper or using other methods permitted by the court.

Navigating the divorce process can be challenging, but understanding the steps involved and seeking legal advice can ease the burden. Remember to consult with an experienced family law attorney to ensure your rights are protected and your interests are represented throughout the process.