Answers to commonly asked questions about getting a divorce in Missouri
Reprinted from an article by M. Corley, a Kansas City attorney. Below, you’ll find answers to some common questions about getting a divorce in Missouri.
What is a “dissolution of marriage”? In most jurisdictions, the legal process for ending a marriage is called “divorce.” In Missouri, it is called dissolution, because the bonds of matrimony are dissolved.
Is there anything I should know before filing for dissolution of marriage?First and foremost, you should understand that when divorcing spouses agree and get along, the road to dissolution is easy; when they disagree and quarrel, the road is long, hard and expensive.Missouri has a separate Family Court, with judges who see dissolution proceedings on a daily basis and who closely scrutinize any proceeding involving children. Rigorous standards are set and followed for determining custody issues, such as who gets the kids, where, when, how and with what restrictions.
Are there any alternatives to court? In Missouri, there has been a major movement towards alternative dispute resolution especially regarding parenting issues, such as custody and visitation. If you quarrel over parenting issues, a guardian ad litem will be appointed for your children to represent their interests.The parties share the cost of all these extra services, so you are well advised to try to agree from the start or you will end up spending thousands of dollars on professionals who will then make recommendations to the court about how your children should spend their lives. Meanwhile, your children will become pawns in your fight, and might end up hating both of you. Pick your fights carefully.
How do I start my case to get a dissolution of marriage?
To start a dissolution case, you must:
- Complete and file a “petition for dissolution,” which is the initial pleading (legal document) that tells the court who you are, who your spouse is, where you were married, and other facts about your situation. You must include all of the information required by statute (Section 452.310.2).
- File Financial Documents which tell show your income and your monthly expenses and also the assets and debts that you and your spouse will have to divide.
- Cause the court to issue a “summons” (a paper telling the other spouse that the case has been started and giving them a copy of the petition).
- Pay a filing fee, which is generally set by the local rules of the circuit court in which your case is filed.
If you hire an attorney, make sure the attorney practices in the county where you live. That county’s court rules will dictate some of the proceedings, and an experienced attorney will know which forms to file by when. If you decide not to hire an attorney, you will be responsible for knowing and following state and county rules for divorce actions.
What are the grounds for a dissolution of marriage in Missouri?
Missouri is a no-fault divorce state, which means if one party testifies that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” and there is no likelihood the relationship can be saved, the spouses will get their dissolution and the marriage will be legally over. There is no need for one spouse to blame the other or tell the court what caused the marriage to end.
Do I have to be a resident of the state of Missouri to file for a dissolution in the state?
Yes. You or your spouse must have been a resident of the state of Missouri for at least 90 days before you can file a petition for dissolution. This is called the “residency requirement”
Where do I file my case?
In the county where you reside or the county where your spouse resides. For further questions on family law, divorce, child custody or modifications of divorce judgments please contact: Barbara L Graham The Law Office of Barbara L Graham LLC 314.725.7600 7777 Bonhomme Ave, Suite 1600 St Louis, MO 63105