How to Get Divorce Papers in Missouri
Going through a divorce can be a challenging and emotional process. If you reside in Missouri and have decided to end your marriage, it’s important to understand the steps involved in obtaining divorce papers. This article will guide you through the process and provide answers to some frequently asked questions about divorce in Missouri.
1. Determine eligibility: To file for divorce in Missouri, you or your spouse must be a resident of the state for at least 90 days before filing the petition.
2. Choose the appropriate court: Divorce cases are handled by the Circuit Court in the county where either you or your spouse resides. Locate the appropriate Circuit Court in your county.
3. Obtain the necessary forms: Visit the Circuit Court’s website or office to obtain the required divorce forms. These forms will include a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, a Marital Settlement Agreement, and a Parenting Plan if you have minor children.
4. Fill out the forms: Carefully complete the forms, providing accurate and detailed information. Ensure that all necessary sections and signatures are properly filled out.
5. File the forms: Once completed, file the forms with the Circuit Court Clerk in the county where you or your spouse resides. You will need to pay a filing fee, which varies by county.
6. Serve the papers: After filing, you must serve your spouse with a copy of the divorce papers. This can be done by a sheriff, process server, or any adult who is not involved in the case. Proof of service must be filed with the court.
7. Wait for a response: After being served, your spouse has 30 days to file a response. If they fail to respond within this timeframe, you may proceed with the divorce as an uncontested case.
8. Attend court hearings: If the divorce is contested, you and your spouse will need to attend court hearings to resolve any issues. These may include property division, spousal support, child custody, and child support matters.
9. Finalize the divorce: Once all issues are resolved, the court will issue a final judgment of dissolution of marriage. This will legally end your marriage.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
1. Can I file for divorce in Missouri if my spouse doesn’t live in the state?
Yes, as long as you meet the residency requirements, you can file for divorce in Missouri even if your spouse resides elsewhere.
2. How long does it take to get a divorce in Missouri?
The duration of the divorce process varies based on the complexity of the case. On average, it can take anywhere from three to twelve months.
3. Do I need an attorney for my divorce?
While it is not required to have an attorney, it is highly recommended. An experienced attorney can guide you through the legal process and protect your rights.
4. Can I get a divorce if I can’t afford the filing fee?
If you cannot afford the filing fee, you can request a fee waiver from the court. The court will review your financial situation and determine if you qualify for a waiver.
5. What if my spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers?
If your spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers, you can still proceed with the divorce. In such cases, it will be treated as a contested divorce, and the court will make decisions based on the evidence presented.
6. Can I change my name during the divorce process?
Yes, you can request a name change as part of your divorce proceedings. Include this request in your initial divorce paperwork.
7. How is child custody determined in Missouri?
Child custody is determined based on the best interests of the child. The court considers factors such as the child’s relationship with each parent, their living arrangements, and the ability of each parent to provide for the child’s needs.
8. Can I modify child support or custody arrangements in the future?
Yes, if circumstances change, you can request a modification of child support or custody arrangements. However, you must show a substantial change in circumstances to warrant a modification.
9. Can I get a divorce without going to court?
Yes, if you and your spouse can reach a mutual agreement on all issues, you can file for an uncontested divorce. This allows you to finalize the divorce without a court hearing.
Going through a divorce can be a difficult time, but understanding the process and having the necessary information can make it more manageable. By following the steps outlined above and seeking appropriate legal guidance, you can navigate the divorce process in Missouri with greater ease.