Divorce is a difficult time for both spouses even if they both believe a divorce is in their best interest. Before moving forward with the divorce process, you may find the following information helpful.
Who Can File for Divorce in Missouri?
A married person who has lived in Missouri for at least three months (90 days) can file a petition for divorce. An exception to the three-month rule is made for a member of the Armed Services who is stationed in the state of Missouri.
What Are the Grounds to File for Divorce in Missouri?
Missouri is a no-fault state and provides for couples to get a divorce without proving either party is at fault for the divorce. The petitioner, the one who initiates the divorce by filing the divorce petition, alleges that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” If the respondent, the one who responds to the petition, agrees, neither party needs to show fault.
If the respondent disagrees that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the petitioner will need to convince the court that one of the following applies:
- Your spouse’s behavior is such that it is unreasonable to expect you to continue living together.
- Your spouse’s adultery is intolerable, and you cannot continue living together.
- For at least six months prior to the date you filed your divorce petition, your spouse had abandoned you.
- You and your spouse had not lived together for at least a year prior to the date you filed your divorce petition. If the respondent does not want the divorce, then you need to prove you have lived apart for two years.
How to File for Divorce in Missouri
The petitioner files a petition for divorce in the county where one of the party lives. The petition must be signed by the petitioner who verifies that all the allegations in the petition are true. The petition must be notarized by a notary public. Most banks employ notary publics.
Most courts also require you to file certain documents along with your petition including:
- An income and expense statement.
- A statement of property and debt.
- A parenting plan if there are children.
- Filing information sheet.
- A certificate of dissolution.
- A proposed “Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage.”
Check with the court where you plan on filing your petition to see if there are any other documents required.
There is a filing fee, which varies by county. If you cannot afford the fee, you can file a financial statement and a form called “In Forma Pauperis.” The court will evaluate your statement and determine whether to waive the filing fee.
Serving Divorce Paperwork in Missouri
After the petitioner has filed the petitioner, he or she must arrange to provide a copy to their spouse to allow the spouse, who becomes the respondent, the chance to respond to the petition. This is called “service of process.” When the service of process has been completed, the petitioner files a proof of service with the court.
There are several ways service can be done:
- If you have a good relationship with your spouse, your spouse may agree to waive personal service and file a signed and notarized document with the court titled “Entry of Appearance and Waiver of Service.”
- You may hire a professional process server to serve the petition and file the proof of service with the court. You will need to provide the process server with detailed information about how to locate your spouse.
- If you cannot find your spouse for service, the court provides guidelines for service by publication. Check with the court for more information.
Contested or Uncontested Divorce
A contested divorce is just what it sounds like. The spouses do not agree on anything, and they fight over every issue.
On the other hand, an uncontested divorce is where both spouses agree they want a divorce and agree on all the other issues, including division of property, a parenting plan, child custody and visitation, child support, and agree to cooperate with each without animosity.
Getting Legal Help with a Divorce in Missouri
For more information about how we may help you with your divorce, contact us at the Piatchek Law Firm to schedule a consultation.