How Do I File for Divorce in Missouri

How Do I File for Divorce in Missouri?

Divorce can be a challenging and emotional process, but understanding the steps involved can help make the process smoother. If you are considering filing for divorce in Missouri, here is a step-by-step guide to help you navigate through the process.

1. Meet the residency requirements: To file for divorce in Missouri, either you or your spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least 90 days before filing.

2. Determine the grounds for divorce: Missouri allows for both fault and no-fault divorces. No-fault divorces are based on the grounds that the marriage is irretrievably broken, while fault divorces may be based on factors such as adultery, abandonment, or abuse.

3. Hire an attorney: While not legally required, it is highly recommended to hire an experienced divorce attorney who can guide you through the process and ensure your rights are protected.

4. Prepare the necessary documents: The next step is to prepare the required divorce documents, including the petition for dissolution of marriage, which outlines the reasons for the divorce and the relief sought.

5. File the petition: Once the documents are prepared, you will need to file them with the circuit court in the county where you or your spouse reside. You will also need to pay the filing fee, which varies by county.

6. Serve the spouse: After filing the petition, you must serve your spouse with a copy of the documents. This can be done through a process server or by certified mail with return receipt requested.

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7. Wait for response: Your spouse has 30 days to respond to the petition. If they fail to respond, the divorce may proceed as an uncontested divorce. If they respond, the divorce becomes contested, and additional steps may be required.

8. Negotiate a settlement: If both parties are willing, negotiations can take place to reach a settlement agreement. This agreement addresses issues such as property division, child custody, child support, and spousal support.

9. Attend mediation: If a settlement cannot be reached through negotiations, the court may order mediation. In mediation, a neutral third party helps facilitate discussions between the spouses to reach an agreement.

10. Attend court hearings: If a settlement cannot be reached, the divorce case may proceed to trial. Both parties will need to attend court hearings where evidence, witnesses, and arguments will be presented.

11. Finalize the divorce: Once the court has made a decision on all issues, a judgment of dissolution of marriage will be entered. This judgment finalizes the divorce and outlines the rights and obligations of each party.

12. Follow the court’s orders: It is crucial to follow the court’s orders regarding property division, child custody, and support. Failure to comply with court orders can result in legal consequences.

Common Questions about Filing for Divorce in Missouri:

1. How long does it take to get a divorce in Missouri?
The length of time it takes to finalize a divorce in Missouri varies depending on the complexity of the case and whether it is contested or uncontested. On average, it can take anywhere from several months to a year or more.

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2. Can I get a divorce without hiring an attorney?
While it is possible to file for divorce without an attorney, it is highly recommended to have legal representation, especially if there are complex issues involved or if your spouse has hired an attorney.

3. How much does it cost to file for divorce in Missouri?
The cost of filing for divorce in Missouri varies by county. Typically, the filing fee ranges from $100 to $200. Additionally, you may incur additional costs for attorney fees, mediation, and court hearings.

4. Can I file for divorce online?
Missouri does not currently offer online divorce filing. You will need to file the necessary documents in person at the circuit court.

5. Can I get a divorce if my spouse doesn’t want one?
Yes, you can still proceed with a divorce even if your spouse does not want one. However, if your spouse contests the divorce, it may lead to a more complicated and lengthy process.

6. Do I have to prove fault to get a divorce in Missouri?
No, Missouri allows for no-fault divorces based on the grounds that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Proving fault is not necessary, but it can be a factor in certain situations.

7. How is property divided in a Missouri divorce?
Missouri follows the principle of equitable distribution, which means that marital property is divided fairly but not necessarily equally. The court considers various factors such as each spouse’s contribution to the marriage, the length of the marriage, and the economic circumstances of both spouses.

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8. Will I have to pay spousal support?
The court may order spousal support, also known as maintenance or alimony, depending on the specific circumstances of the case. Factors such as the length of the marriage, each spouse’s earning capacity, and the standard of living during the marriage will be considered.

9. Can I change my name during the divorce process?
Yes, you can request a name change as part of the divorce proceedings. You will need to include this in your divorce petition.

10. Can I modify child custody or support orders after the divorce is finalized?
Yes, it is possible to modify child custody or support orders if there has been a significant change in circumstances. However, you will need to file a petition with the court and provide evidence to support the modification.

11. What if my spouse refuses to comply with court orders?
If your spouse fails to comply with court orders, you may need to file a motion for contempt with the court. This can lead to legal consequences for the non-compliant party.

12. Can we use the same attorney for an uncontested divorce?
It is generally not advisable for both spouses to use the same attorney in an uncontested divorce. Each party should have their own legal representation to ensure their interests are protected.