How to complete a "do it yourself" divorce in Missouri?
Do it yourself divorce is becoming increasingly popular with couples who want to end their marriage in a quick, easy and affordable way. However, not all divorces are ideal for the do-it-yourself approach. If you and your spouse are in agreement on how the divorce will go – including matters like property division, child custody and support – you may be ideal for a do-it-yourself divorce. If you and your spouse are going to fight out the details in court, the do-it-yourself divorce approach may not work for you.
How To Conduct A Do-It-Yourself Divorce
- Verify that you are eligible – The state of Missouri requires that you be a resident of the state for at least 90 days before you can file for a dissolution of your marriage. Failure to meet this basic requirement will result in your petition being thrown out.
- Determine what kind of divorce you need – There are several ways to get a divorce in Missouri. As mentioned previously, if you and your spouse can agree on how things will be divided up, you can seek an uncontested divorce and do the whole thing yourself – or use a service like CompleteCase where all your paperwork is filled out for you. If you and your spouse are not in agreement and you believe a legal battle is inevitable, it is advisable to hire a divorce lawyer to get legal advice pertinent to your case. You will need to argue for your side of the story and a good lawyer is ideally equipped for this work.
- Fill out your petition – You can request a blank petition from your local county clerk's office and fill it out on your own. You can also fill out our questionnaire at CompleteCase and we will help you complete the paperwork. Just because you are doing a do-it-yourself divorce does not mean you need to go it alone. Our team can help you make sure everything is done right the first time.
- Fill out any additional paperwork – If your divorce will be uncontested, you can also fill out and a marital asset distribution form and a child custody and visitation agreement. The more completely you have your divorce mapped out the easier it will be for the court to finalize your dissolution.
- Submit your petition – Submit your completed and notarized petition to the circuit court and pay the necessary fees to file the petition.
- Serve your spouse – If you submitted an uncontested divorce agreed upon by both parties then things can move forward immediately. If your spouse is not in agreement or does not know about the divorce, you will need to serve him or her copies of your petition and other paperwork. Missouri requires that you have a sheriff serve the documentation or a third-party service – each of which will charge a fee.
- Wait for resolution – If your petition is uncontested you will wait for the court to review it and to finalize the divorce. If your spouse was served you must wait for him or her to acknowledge the receipt of the papers. Your spouse will have an opportunity to contest the divorce, which the court will review. If the divorce is contested the court will set a hearing date. This is when you will need to prepare your argument for the court and when your spouse will do the same. You and your spouse will have time to exchange information about your position – documents like property ownership, assets, income, and more. This is also the time when mediation may occur if you and your spouse have children together.
- Go to trial – If your spouse contests the divorce and you must go to trail to argue for your side, hiring a divorce attorney is highly recommended. You will need to convince the court of your position, something lawyers are trained to do. The more you have at stake in the trial the more important it is to have competent legal representation.