How to File for Divorce Missouri

How to File for Divorce in Missouri: A Comprehensive Guide

Going through a divorce can be a challenging and emotionally draining process. If you find yourself in this situation in the state of Missouri, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of the steps involved in filing for divorce. This article aims to provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to file for divorce in Missouri, along with answers to frequently asked questions.

1. Grounds for Divorce:
Missouri recognizes both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. No-fault divorces are the most common, based on the grounds of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This means that the marriage has broken down beyond repair.

2. Residency Requirements:
To file for divorce in Missouri, at least one spouse must be a resident of the state for at least 90 days before filing.

3. Divorce Process:
The divorce process in Missouri generally involves the following steps:
a) Filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
b) Serving the petition to the other spouse.
c) Waiting for the other spouse’s response.
d) Negotiating a settlement or going to trial.
e) Finalizing the divorce decree.

4. Filing the Petition:
To initiate the divorce process, you must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in the circuit court of the county where either you or your spouse resides. The court will charge a filing fee, which varies by county.

See also  How to Calculate Child Support in Florida

5. Serving the Petition:
After filing the petition, you must serve a copy of it to your spouse. This can be done through personal service, where a process server or sheriff delivers the papers, or by certified mail with a return receipt.

6. Waiting for Response:
Once served, the other spouse has 30 days to file a response. If they fail to respond, the court may proceed with the divorce based on your petition alone.

7. Negotiating a Settlement:
If both spouses agree on the terms of the divorce, they can negotiate a settlement agreement that addresses property division, child custody, support, and other relevant issues. This agreement must be submitted to the court for approval.

8. Going to Trial:
If an agreement cannot be reached, the divorce case will go to trial. At trial, both parties present their arguments and evidence, and a judge will make decisions regarding unresolved issues.

9. Finalizing the Divorce:
Once all issues have been resolved, a divorce decree will be issued. This document formalizes the end of the marriage and outlines the terms of the settlement or court order.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. How long does it take to get a divorce in Missouri?
The timeline for divorce varies depending on the complexity of the case, court schedules, and whether or not the spouses can agree on the terms. On average, it takes around three to six months to finalize a divorce in Missouri.

See also  How to Get Into Stanford Law School

2. Do I need an attorney to file for divorce?
While it is not required to have an attorney, it is highly recommended to seek legal advice, especially if your case involves significant assets, child custody disputes, or complex financial issues.

3. Can I get a divorce without going to court?
Yes, if both parties agree on all terms of the divorce, including property division, child custody, and support, a settlement agreement can be submitted to the court for approval without the need for a trial.

4. How is property divided in a Missouri divorce?
Missouri follows the principle of equitable distribution, which means that marital property is divided in a fair and just manner, but not necessarily equally. Factors such as the length of the marriage, each spouse’s contributions, and economic circumstances are considered.

5. What if my spouse doesn’t respond to the petition?
If your spouse fails to respond within 30 days, you can request a default judgment, allowing the court to proceed with the divorce based on your petition alone.

See also  What Percent Tint Is Legal in Florida

6. Can I change my name during the divorce process?
Yes, you can request a name change as part of the divorce proceedings. However, you must specify this in your petition for dissolution of marriage.

7. Can I modify child custody or support orders after the divorce?
Yes, child 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 changes.

8. What if my spouse and I cannot agree on child custody?
If both parties cannot reach an agreement on child custody, the court will make a decision based on the best interests of the child, considering factors such as each parent’s ability to care for the child, the child’s preference, and any history of abuse or neglect.

9. Can I remarry right after the divorce is finalized?
Yes, once the divorce decree is issued, you are free to remarry immediately.

Filing for divorce in Missouri can be a complex and emotionally challenging process. It is crucial to understand the steps involved, your rights, and seek professional legal advice to navigate through this difficult time. By being well-informed, you can make informed decisions and work towards a resolution that best suits your circumstances.