How Do I File for Divorce in Missouri?
Filing for divorce in Missouri is not a complicated process, but it can take some time depending on the nature of your divorce. When you file for divorce in Missouri, you must go through certain steps to meet all state requirements and get a final decision from the court. Knowing what these steps are can help you make sure you do everything right and avoid any unnecessary complications.
Steps To File For Divorce In Missouri
- Determine if you are eligible – Missouri will only allow residents to file for divorce in the state. According to Missouri law, you or your spouse must reside in the state for at least 90 days to seek a dissolution of your marriage.
- Understand what type of divorce you want – You have several options when you file for divorce in Missouri, some of which are more difficult than others. Missouri allows no-fault and at-fault divorces. In a no-fault divorce, you can simply claim irreconcilable differences or a separation of more than two years. If you want to fight for child custody or other goals, you may choose to claim your spouse is at fault for the divorce, using reasons like adultery, extreme cruelty or imprisonment.
- Know if you want a contested or uncontested divorce – In a contested divorce, you and your spouse do not agree on the final terms of the divorce and must argue for your side with the court. Contested divorces can be caused by any number of disagreements, but typically relate to arguments over property division, child custody or support issues. In a contested divorce you will probably want to hire a divorce attorney to look out for your best interests. The more that is at stake in the divorce, the more important it is to have a lawyer. In an uncontested divorce, it is possible to have a relatively quick and cheap divorce. You can complete all of your paperwork using CompleteCase so you know you have filled out the right forms and that you have filled them out correctly. The court looks over your documents and can clear your divorce quickly and painlessly.
- Fill out and submit your paperwork – You can request a petition for divorce from your county clerk or complete your paperwork with CompleteCase. Once you have the completed paperwork in hand you can submit it to the clerk and pay the filing fee. If you plan on an uncontested divorce you can also submit a child custody and visitation agreement and a marital asset distribution form.
- Serve your spouse – If you are not submitting your paperwork with your spouse you will need to serve him or her the divorce paperwork. Missouri requires that you either hire a service to do this or you have a sheriff do this for you – either of which will charge a fee for the task.
- Wait for a resolution – The time you wait will depend upon what type of divorce you are going through. In an uncontested divorce you can expect the court to review your paperwork fairly quickly. Once it determines that everything is in order it can grant you your divorce. If you had to serve your spouse you will need to wait for him or her to acknowledge receipt of the papers and to raise any objections her or she might have. If objections are raised and a solution cannot be reached, you can expect the court to schedule a hearing. At this point you and your spouse will have the opportunity to hire divorce lawyers if you do not already have them, and to go through the discovery process – where each side asks for information from the other concerning things like financial assets. If your divorce is going to go to trial it is always advisable to hire a divorce attorney. You will be arguing for your side and fighting for things that are important to you, things that a divorce attorney is trained to do.
- Coming to equitable terms is preferable – If you and your spouse can come to equitable terms about how you will divide up things after your divorce you can both save a great deal of money and heartache. You can do the divorce yourself using our online divorce service, as long as your divorce will be uncontested. This is a legitimate way to get the results you want at a bargain.
However, even if you do not agree initially on the terms of the divorce, it is still advisable to come to an understanding with your spouse. The state of Missouri prefers uncontested divorces because they save everyone time and money. This may not be an option for you, but if it is you should strongly consider it.