Divorce in Missouri

Divorce in Missouri | How to Get a Divorce & Process (Guide) 2024

Before taking the first steps, Missouri citizens who are considering divorce should be aware of the numerous laws and procedures. Navigating through a divorce in Missouri shouldn’t be difficult because it is already painful enough. Whether you’re considering the procedure or have already started it, this guide offers the most recent, thorough information to assist you.

In Missouri, a divorce is referred to as a dissolution of marriage. This will serve two purposes for any married couple: ending the marriage and distributing assets and debts. The subject of alimony can also come up if one of them won’t be able to sustain themselves after the divorce. The questions of child custody and support must also be settled if there are minor children.

Knowing Missouri’s divorce laws may provide you confidence and peace of mind as you work to dissolve your marriage. Divorce is a difficult process that can have negative physical and psychological effects. Even when there has been a formal divorce agreement, the likelihood that the marriage has ended provides a certain certainty.

Everything will alter if you submit a divorce petition. This includes your connections to your extended family, your financial situation, your daily activities, your daily routine at home, and maybe your residence. The people concerned frequently react emotionally rather than strategically during such a stressful time.

Two Types of Divorce in Missouri

In Missouri, divorces can be uncontested or contested.

Parents Name
Wages & Income
Non-Custodial Parent
Custodial Parent

Uncontested divorces allow you and your spouse to reach a complete agreement on all issues, including property division and child custody. As co-petitioners, you submit the divorce petition jointly. The court will examine the petition.

If accepted, it is included in the judgment and decree of dissolution, also known as the divorce settlement. Uncontested divorces proceed significantly more swiftly than disputed divorces, which is an advantage for couples who wish to end their marriage as soon as possible. The drawback is that many of these joint applications aren’t reviewed by lawyers so the conditions might be more adverse to one party.

Contested divorces- When there is conflict in a divorce, it usually implies that the parties cannot agree on all of the issues that need to be resolved. As a result, you will probably need to file for divorce in court. These separations might be more expensive and drawn out. The success of your divorce depends heavily on the knowledge, expertise, and insight of your divorce attorney.

Residency and Where to File

Since Missouri is a “no-fault” divorce state, you can simply petition for divorce for any reason without having to wait, separate for a specific period of time, or provide evidence of your spouse’s misconduct. However, in order to petition for divorce in Missouri, either you or your spouse must call the state home.

A.M.S. 452.305 states that in order to be deemed a resident for the purposes of dissolving your marriage, you must have lived in Missouri for 90 days prior to filing for divorce, unless you are a member of the U.S. military stationed here.

If you’re eligible, you can start your divorce by submitting your paperwork to Cass County’s 17th Judicial Circuit Court. If you reside in a different county, you must file your petition in the circuit court that has jurisdiction over that area.

Grounds for Divorce

Legal grounds for divorce include child custody disputes. This serves as the rationale for ending the marriage. The Petition for Dissolution of Marriage must state that “the marriage of the parties is irretrievably broken, and there continues to remain no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be retained” in order for Missouri, like the majority of states, to recognize what is known as no-fault grounds for divorce.

There are no reasons based on fault. If, however, the respondent (your husband) contests that the marriage is irretrievably broken, you will have to demonstrate one or more of the ability to follow:

  • Your spouse’s adultery makes it untenable for you to live together,
  • Your spouse’s actions prevent you from being able to expect to live with them,
  • Prior to filing, your spouse abandoned you for six months in a row.
  • You and your spouse have lived apart by mutual agreement for a continuous period of 12 months prior to the petition’s filing,
  • Before the petition was filed, you and your spouse had lived apart (without mutual consent) for a continuous period of at least 24 months.
  • Alternatively, the judge may extend the case for 30 to 6 months while recommending—but not mandating—that you undergo treatment. Without more evidence, the judge may then render judgment.

Preparing Missouri’s Divorce Papers

A Petition of Dissolution of Marriage is the legal name for a divorce petition in Missouri. Unless a married pair petitions jointly, in which case both parties will be referred to as co-petitioners, the spouse who files the petition is the petitioner. The spouse who receives the divorce papers through service but does not initiate the dissolution of the marriage is referred to as the respondent.

You are the “petitioner” because you are the one who initiated the divorce proceedings. The “respondent” is your spouse. The key forms that you must finish are as follows:

  • Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, which requests details about your marriage, your children, your residency, employment, and income, as well as the instructions you want your divorce decree to include (such as property division, child custody, and support)
  • Certificate of Dissolution of Marriage
  • Filing Information Sheet
  • Parenting Plan (if you have unemancipated children)
  • Statement of Income and Expenses
  • Statement of Property and Debt and Proposed Separation Agreement, and
  • Judgment and Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.

You might ask your spouse to finish the Respondent’s Answer to the Petition for Dissolution of The marriage. You will then be able to circumvent several phases in the process of divorce if you file that paperwork together with your application. 

Make absolutely sure you and your husband have always had the completion certificates from the Litigant Awareness Program since they must be included with the remainder of the divorce documents.

Can You Get a D.I.Y. Divorce or Do You Need Professional Help

If you have a settlement agreement and a simple case, you can handle filing for divorce on your own and shouldn’t require a lawyer.  The least expensive way to dissolve your marriage is with a “do it yourself” (D.I.Y.) divorce.

To ensure that you have all the necessary paperwork, have filled them out accurately, and have adhered to all the stages and requirements for divorce in Missouri, however, will take some time and careful attention to detail.

That’s one of the reasons Missouri courts mandate that all spouses who are acting pro se in a divorce must undergo a “Litigant Awareness Program,” which includes reading a manual or watching an online video. This program gives crucial details on every stage of the Missouri divorce procedure, as well as advice on how to safeguard your interests while going through a divorce.

There are other options for gaining assistance with the divorce process than hiring an attorney to represent you. You may, for instance, choose from the following options or combine them all:

  • With the aid of divorce mediation, you might well be capable of overcoming your difficulties and coming to an agreement if you want the benefits of an uncontested divorce but are having trouble reaching an understanding with your husband on some matters.
  • You can file for divorce online by picking a company that will provide you with the completed forms and effectively act as your guide through the process. . However, to use online divorce services, you often need to have an uncontested divorce.
  • Even if you decide to file for divorce yourself or online, you can still speak with a lawyer if you have any issues or need a professional legal opinion on your settlement agreement.

Without one, you’ll proceed with the conventional contentious divorce. Since engaging a lawyer to handle the paperwork, filing, and other legal aspects of the divorce is almost certainly necessary, the material presented here is mostly focused on the filing process for persons who are conducting their own divorce.

Filing the Divorce Papers in Missouri

Take the divorce papers to the district court clerk’s office in the county where you or your spouse resides once you have completed and signed the documents (in front of a notary, if necessary).

You only need to submit the initial piece of papers to court if your spouse’s answer is being filed concurrently with the other paperwork. If not, you must file both the original and a duplicate of each document, and the clerk must issue you a summons.

Be aware that there are filing fees for official documentation with the courts. The cost to file for divorce varies from county to county in Missouri, and some counties charge extra when there are children involved. Typically, the costs fall between $125 to $200. For information on the cost and acceptable payment methods, call the court clerk’s office in your area in advance.

Next Steps in Your Missouri Divorce

You might need to take additional procedures to advance your case, even if your divorce is uncontested.

Serving the Divorce Papers

You wouldn’t have to go through the formal judicial process of delivering the divorce papers if you included your spouse’s response with the petition and other divorce documents. Just make sure you both have exact copies of every document.

In the event that “service of process” is required, there are several ways to provide your spouse with the divorce papers:

  • The simplest approach, if your spouse is agreeable, is to simply ask them to sign an “Entry of Appearance and Waiver of Service” and consent to receive the paperwork from you. The completed, notarized paperwork must then be submitted to the court.
  • If not, you will often make arrangements to have the paperwork personally delivered to your spouse by the sheriff, a different court office, or a private process server. Ask the court clerk if there are any other options for serving your spouse, such as serving them by mail if they reside out of state.
  • If, despite your best efforts, you are unable to locate your spouse to serve the papers, you may get the court’s approval to complete the service by placing a notice in a newspaper. However, if this is the case, you should consult an attorney because employing this mode of service may prevent the judge from having the ability to grant certain orders during your divorce.

Responding to the Divorce Petition

Your spouse will typically have 30 days after being served with the summons and petition to file an answer if you haven’t already filed your partner’s answer together with the dissolution petition. The response must be accompanied by your spouse’s Statement of Property and Debt and Proposed Separation Agreement.

If a respondent spouse fails to provide an answer by the deadline, the judge may grant the petitioner’s request for a divorce.

Alternatives to Divorce Court in Missouri

In Missouri, getting a divorce through the Family Court system can be an alternative. This is known as alternative dispute resolution (A.D.R.). While A.D.R. may be helpful in any divorce circumstance, it is especially advantageous for separated spouses who have children together.

The main source of conflict in a divorce and the factor that contributes to divorce duration are parenting difficulties. In general, it is beneficial for everyone if parents can resolve their differences without resorting to court action.

  • Parents typically use mediation to settle their parenting disagreements and establish a parenting plan. Either voluntarily or at the court’s order, mediation may be requested. You may attend these meetings with your lawyer as well.
  • In Missouri, collaborative divorce is becoming more popular. Here, a varied mix of experts, including lawyers, financial advisers, and mental health specialists, collaborate to assist you in resolving unresolved issues, particularly those that concern children.

Division of Assets and Debts After You File Your Divorce

When you are prepared to file for divorce, you should be aware that Missouri is a no-fault divorce and equitable distribution state.  This means that the courts will make every attempt to split assets and property fairly and proportionately to represent the best objectives of both spouses and any minor children, whether the divorce is fought or uncontested. Nevertheless, this does not imply that the judge will always divide the proceeds equally.

In a Missouri divorce, there are separate assets acquired before the marriage and marital assets amassed throughout the course of the union. Gifts and inheritances may also be regarded as private property in specific circumstances. It is advisable to get legal counsel on an appropriate property divide before signing any written agreements because this can be a complicated situation.

In other situations, it is possible to divide marital property very quickly. There is a necessary list of property that contains things that are frequently regarded as individual belongings in a divorce. In most states, this is accurate.

This list includes the following but is not limited to:

  • Residence or property
  • insurance policy for life protection
  • an individual checking account
  • Pension
  • Vehicles

The judge decided which properties are recognized as married and which are independent during the property distribution. Each asset is given a fair market value before being divided according to what is best for each partner.

Both parties are responsible for any debt incurred during the marriage in divorce in Missouri. Therefore, both are accountable for their payments.

Although getting divorced is never an easy decision, a reputable law company can provide knowledgeable legal counsel and representation when you go to court.

Finalizing Your Divorce In Missouri

Whether or not your divorce is disputed will significantly affect how long it takes to be finalized.

Before the judge can sign your final dissolution judgment in Missouri, there is a 30-day waiting period (counting from the day you filed the divorce papers). However, the actual length of time depends on a number of factors, including whether you’ve submitted all the necessary paperwork, the volume of cases, and the accessibility of judges in your local court.

Usually, you’ll have to show up for a hearing. However, in some counties in Missouri, spouses who are divorcing amicably may be able to forego the hearing and instead have the judge just study their settlement agreement and other relevant paperwork before determining whether to sign the judgment. Once more, ask the court clerk if you need to ask for a hearing.

You will have a trial if your case is contested and you are unable to resolve all of your disagreements at any point throughout the proceeding. The remaining concerns will be decided by the judge after hearing testimony. This is by far the most time-consuming way to get your divorce judgment. Depending on how complicated your case is, it can take a year or longer. The expense of divorce will also dramatically increase if a trial is required.


How long do you have to be separated in Missouri to get a divorce?

You and your husband had a “mutual agreement” to live apart for at least a year prior to filing for divorce; this means that both of you were on board with the arrangement;

How much does it cost to file divorce papers in Missouri?

In Missouri, you may anticipate paying around $163 to file for divorce. In Missouri, the cost of hiring an attorney for your divorce could range from $200 to $500 per hour.

What is the fastest way to get a divorce in Missouri?

You can file in the county where either party resides’ Circuit Court. You and your partner file a Joint Petition for Dissolution of Marriage for an uncontested divorce, which is the quickest procedure, after reaching an understanding on all issues.

Is it better to file for divorce first in Missouri?

You will be served papers if your spouse files the case first. You then have 30 days under Missouri law to reply. A person is frequently left scurrying to locate legal representation as a result. You will have the time to find a St. if you file first.

How long does a divorce process take in Missouri?

Your divorce must be finalized at least 30 days after you or your spouse submitted the petition to the court. The full divorce procedure may take longer than 30 days because you must think about and settle various important matters with your husband.

Can I file for divorce on my own in Missouri?

In Missouri, you can file for an uncontested divorce without hiring a lawyer. Without counsel, you are referred to as pro se if you file for divorce (pronounced pro say). If you want to file an uncontested divorce on your own in the State of Missouri, you must use extremely specific forms that have been put up for this purpose.

What’s the cheapest way to get a divorce in Missouri?

Online divorce is a simple, affordable, and quick way to prepare legal documents for people looking for a low-cost divorce in Missouri. For couples with an uncontested case, an online divorce may be appropriate.

Can you obtain a divorce without the other party’s consent?

To file for divorce, one spouse does not necessarily need the consent of the other. If one of them is confident that there are good reasons for the marriage to end, they may file for divorce without the other’s approval.

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