Divorce is never easy. Many emotions come into play, from anxiety to deep sorrow and even relief for some. This is especially true if you don’t know anything about divorce and how the process works.
One thing that can help alleviate anxiety is understanding how the divorce process works. In this article, we will discuss all you need to know about how divorce works in Missouri.
Things you should know before you begin the divorce process
Before you decide to get a marriage dissolution in Missouri, you will need to make sure that you meet the residency requirements. Either you or your spouse must be a resident of the state for at least 90 days before you can file for a divorce.
In addition to this 90-day rule, you will need to wait another 30 days after filing for your dissolution before the judge can grant your divorce.
Do you have to prove grounds for divorce in Missouri?
Luckily Missouri offers no-fault divorce. Therefore if your marriage is irreparably broken, a no-fault divorce can be given.
If you would like to proceed with a fault-based divorce, you would need to prove one of the following:
- You and your spouse have been separated and lived apart for at least 24 months, and there was no mutual agreement to do so.
- Your spouse has committed adultery.
- Your spouse has abandoned you for at least 6 months uninterrupted.
- You can’t live with your spouse because they might be abusive.
How much does a divorce in Missouri Cost?
The cost of your divorce will depend on several factors. For example, is your divorce contested or uncontested? Will you be using an attorney or not? What about mediation? All of these costs can add up. On average, the cost of a divorce in Missouri is between $4000 and $15,000.
An uncontested divorce will be cheaper, as you won’t need to use an attorney for the process if you and your spouse can agree on how to divide your assets and debts.
But if your divorce is contested, you might need to go to court and use an attorney for the entire process. If you have minor children and can’t agree on who gets custody, this can also be costly, as you might need to go to court.
If you would just like to have your divorce papers prepared for you by an online divorce service and just pay your court filing fee, then you can expect your dissolution to be much cheaper.
Does Missouri permit a 50/50 property division split?
No, Missouri does not do this but instead offers the equitable distribution of property. This means the judge will divide your property fairly, which doesn’t necessarily mean equally. For example, if children are involved in the divorce, the spouse who has custody of the children will usually get the house.
The Divorce Process in Missouri – Step by Step
Though every divorce is different, there are 5 standard steps that you will need to follow if you would like a dissolution in Missouri.
Step 1: Decide if you would like to use a divorce lawyer
Most couples try to avoid lawyers to save costs, but this isn’t always wise, especially if you and your spouse can’t agree on who gets what in the proceedings. You might want to represent yourself in court, but this is not advised, as you will need to have a good understanding of how the court system works, how divorce law works, and the correct terms and phrases.
If your divorce is relatively straightforward (aka an uncontested divorce), you do not need to use a lawyer. You might even want to consider an online divorce service to prepare your paperwork for you.
Step 2: Figure out which court you plan on using to file for your divorce
Missouri has 46 judicial circuits, and every county in the state has its own family court. You will need to file for your dissolution in the county in which you live. Remember that you will need to have lived there for at least 90 days.
Step 3: File the “Petition for Dissolution” document
This document is 66 pages and comprises eight different sections that will need to be filled out. You can get these papers at your local clerk’s office (or even better, if you can use an online divorce service)
The eight sections include:
- Petition for dissolution of marriage
- Statement of income and expenses
- Statement of Property and Debt and Proposed Separation Agreement (you might need an attorney for this section if you have not come to an agreement)
- Respondent’s Answer to Petitioner’s Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
- Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage
- Filing Information Sheet
- Parenting Plan (if you have children)
Step 4: If you have minor children fill out the family and parenting documentation
Make sure that you do this section correctly. It is advised that you use an attorney to help you if you have minor children. Even just having an attorney review what you have filled out before submitting the documentation is a good idea.
Some counties also require a Family Court Information Sheet. Be sure that you have all the correct documentation before you submit them.
Step 5: File your divorce papers
Once all your paperwork has been completed correctly and checked, make a few copies and file the paperwork at your local court. You will also need to pay a filing fee, which varies from county to county.
Once this has happened, the court will send a summons to your spouse, notifying them that you have filed for divorce. Your spouse will then have 30 days to respond.
Once this has happened, you will get a hearing date, and if all is in order, a judge will grant your divorce.
Divorce should never be a rushed decision. Take your time to think about if it is really the right option for you. Divorce in Missouri is pretty straightforward, but if there is anything you are unsure of, always ask an attorney.