How Does Divorce Work in Missouri

How Does Divorce Work in Missouri?

Divorce is never an easy process, but understanding how it works in your specific state can help alleviate some of the stress and confusion. If you are a resident of Missouri and considering a divorce, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the state laws and procedures. Here is a comprehensive guide on how divorce works in Missouri.

Filing for Divorce in Missouri:
To initiate the divorce process, one spouse must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the appropriate circuit court. The filing spouse, known as the petitioner, must be a resident of Missouri for at least 90 days before filing.

Grounds for Divorce:
Missouri is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that neither party needs to prove fault or wrongdoing to obtain a divorce. The only grounds for divorce in Missouri is that the marriage is irretrievably broken. This means that there is no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved and reconciliation is not possible.

Division of Property:
Missouri follows the principle of equitable distribution when dividing marital property. Equitable distribution means that the court will divide property and assets fairly, but not necessarily equally. Factors such as the length of the marriage, each spouse’s economic circumstances, and contributions to the marriage will be considered in determining the division of property.

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Child Custody and Support:
When it comes to child custody, Missouri courts prioritize the best interests of the child. Joint custody is usually favored unless it is determined to be detrimental to the child’s well-being. Child support is determined based on the income of both parents and the needs of the child.

Spousal Support:
Spousal support, also known as alimony, may be awarded depending on various factors, including the length of the marriage, the financial resources of each spouse, and the ability of the recipient spouse to become self-sufficient. The court will consider the reasonable needs of the requesting spouse and the ability of the other spouse to pay.

9 FAQs about Divorce in Missouri:

1. How long does it take to get a divorce in Missouri?
The length of the divorce process in Missouri varies depending on the complexity of the case and the level of cooperation between the spouses. It can take anywhere from a few months to over a year to finalize a divorce.

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2. Can I get a divorce without going to court?
In some cases, spouses can reach a settlement agreement outside of court through mediation or negotiation. However, court involvement is typically required to finalize a divorce in Missouri.

3. Do I need a lawyer to get a divorce in Missouri?
While it is not mandatory to hire a lawyer, having legal representation can ensure that your rights and interests are protected throughout the divorce process.

4. Can I change my name during the divorce process?
Yes, you can request a name change as part of the divorce proceedings. It is recommended to include this request in the initial divorce petition.

5. What happens if my spouse doesn’t respond to the divorce petition?
If your spouse fails to respond to the divorce petition within the specified timeframe, the court may proceed with the divorce based on the information provided by the filing spouse.

6. Can I modify custody and support orders after the divorce is finalized?
Yes, custody and support orders can be modified if there is a substantial change in circumstances that warrants a modification. However, the court will consider the best interests of the child when making any modifications.

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7. Are there residency requirements to file for divorce in Missouri?
Yes, at least one spouse must be a resident of Missouri for at least 90 days before filing for divorce.

8. Can I get a divorce if my spouse doesn’t agree?
Yes, even if one spouse disagrees, a divorce can still be granted in Missouri. However, the process may be more complex and time-consuming.

9. Is mediation required for divorcing couples in Missouri?
Mediation is not required but can be a helpful alternative dispute resolution method to reach a settlement outside of court. However, if the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the court will make the final decisions.