Missouri Divorce Laws
The state of Missouri has unique divorce laws for people who wish to terminate their marriage.
We are providing this online divorce information to you as an easy divorce reference guide to help you while you are doing your own divorce. This information (and much more) is available inside your personal 3StepDivorce account area in order to help you understand how Missouri addresses the most important issues in the divorce process and certain elements throughout your divorce forms.
The following overview of Missouri divorce laws will help you understand the filing procedure and other primary issues concerning your divorce. Please keep in mind that our Missouri online divorce service and support staff will make the process easy for you from start to finish. We take the difficulty out of doing your own divorce.
Residency Requirements: In order to file for a Dissolution of Marriage in Missouri, you or your spouse must meet the strict residency requirements. These requirements permit the court to have jurisdiction of your case, resulting in allowing you to use their judicial system. These requirements are only a concern for spouses who have recently relocated or plan to relocate in the near future. They are as follows:
One party must be a resident of the state of Missouri, or is a member of the armed services who has been stationed in this state, for ninety days immediately preceding the commencement of the proceeding and thirty days must have elapsed since the filing of the petition before the dissolution of marriage will be granted.
An original proceeding shall be commenced in the county in which the petitioner resides or in the county in which the respondent resides. (Missouri Statutes - Title 30 - Chapter 452 - Sections: 300 and 305)
No-Fault Grounds: Most uncontested Dissolution of Marriage cases are filed according to a "no-fault" ground. We are using the term "no-fault" in a generic fashion by labeling all grounds that do not actually declare a "fault" as "no-fault". In the state of Missouri the "no-fault" grounds are as follows:
The marriage is irretrievably broken; and there is no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved.
If both of the parties by petition or otherwise have stated under oath or affirmation that the marriage is irretrievably broken, or one of the parties has so stated and the other has not denied it, the court, after considering the aforesaid petition or statement, and after a hearing thereon shall make a finding whether or not the marriage is irretrievably broken and shall enter an order of dissolution or dismissal accordingly. (Missouri Statutes - Title 30 - Chapter 452 - Sections: 300)
Filing Party Name: The Petitioner or Co-Petitioner. This is the spouse who is recognized as the initiator of the Dissolution of Marriage and is the one who actually files the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the county court.
Non-Filing Party Name: The Respondent or Co-Petitioner. This spouse plays a lesser role in an uncontested Dissolution of Marriage versus a contested Dissolution of Marriage. He or she will be required to sign and/or respond in a timely fashion to the documents filed by his or her spouse.
Family Law or Domestic Relations Court: In the Circuit Court of _______________ County, Missouri. All Dissolution of Marriage cases in the state of Missouri are facilitated through this court for that particular county.
Clerk's Name: All correspondence with a Missouri clerk of the court should formally address him or her as follows: Office of the Clerk of the County Circuit Court.
Property and Debt Division: Missouri is considered an "equitable distribution" state. If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on how the marital property will be divided, the court shall use a three step process. First, it will determine what property is marital. Second, it will put a value on the marital property. Third, it will divide the marital property in an equitable fashion, which is not necessarily equal, but rather what is considered to be fair.
The court shall divide the marital property and marital debts in such proportions as the court deems just after considering all relevant factors including: (1) The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property is to become effective, including the desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live therein for reasonable periods to the spouse having custody of any children; (2) The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of a spouse as homemaker; (3) The value of the nonmarital property set apart to each spouse; (4) The conduct of the parties during the marriage; and (5) Custodial arrangements for minor children.
Marital Property can be defined as all property acquired by either spouse subsequent to the marriage except: (1) Property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or descent; (2) Property acquired in exchange for property acquired prior to the marriage or in exchange for property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or descent; (3) Property acquired by a spouse after a decree of legal separation; (4) Property excluded by valid written agreement of the parties; and (5) The increase in value of property acquired prior to the marriage , unless marital assets including labor, have contributed to such increases and then only to the extent of such contributions. (Missouri Statutes - Title 30 - Chapter 452 - Sections: 330)
Changing Name: A spouse may make a petition to the court for a name change. A legal notice of this name change must be presenting and published in the local newspaper in the county is which the spouse resides. (Missouri Statutes - Chapter 527 - Sections: 270 and 290)
Spousal Support, Maintenance, or Alimony: Determining the amount of spousal support, if any, is not as objective as determining child support. Spousal support, whether permanent or temporary, is typically decided on a case-by-case basis, because it is very likely that unique circumstances and factors regarding the marriage and the property award will play a significant role in allowing the court to arrive at the appropriate amount.
The maintenance order shall be in such amounts and for such periods of time as the court deems just, and after considering all relevant factors including: (1) The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including marital property apportioned to him, and his ability to meet his needs independently, including the extent to which a provision for support of a child living with the party includes a sum for that party as custodian; (2) The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment; (3) The comparative earning capacity of each spouse; (4) The standard of living established during the marriage; (5) The obligations and assets, including the marital property apportioned to him and the separate property of each party; (6) The duration of the marriage; (7) The age, and the physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance; (8) The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet his needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance; (9) The conduct of the parties during the marriage; and (10) Any other relevant factors.
The maintenance order shall state if it is modifiable or nonmodifiable. The court may order maintenance which includes a termination date. Unless the maintenance order which includes a termination date is nonmodifiable, the court may order the maintenance decreased, increased, terminated, extended, or otherwise modified based upon a substantial and continuing change of circumstances which occurred prior to the termination date of the original order. (Missouri Statutes - Title 30 - Chapter 452 - Sections: 335 and 345)
Custody and Visitation: Shared or joint child custody has become more and more popular with the Missouri courts. If you and your spouse request to have joint or shared "legal" custody, it will almost always be granted. As for joint or shared "physical" custody, the court will examine this a bit more closely to determine if it is a realistic choice that would result in an arrangement that is best for the children.
The court shall determine custody in accordance with the best interests of the child. The court shall consider all relevant factors including: (1) The wishes of the child's parents as to custody and the proposed parenting plan submitted by both parties; (2) The needs of the child for a frequent, continuing and meaningful relationship with both parents and the ability and willingness of parents to actively perform their functions as mother and father for the needs of the child; (3) The interaction and interrelationship of the child with parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interests; (4) Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent, continuing and meaningful contact with the other parent; (5) The child's adjustment to the child's home, school, and community; (6) The mental and physical health of all individuals involved; (7) The intention of either parent to relocate the principal residence of the child; and (8) The wishes of a child as to the child's custodian.
A parent not granted custody of the child is entitled to reasonable visitation rights unless the court finds, after a hearing, that visitation would endanger the child's physical health or impair his or her emotional development. The court shall enter an order specifically detailing the visitation rights of the parent without physical custody rights to the child and any other children for whom such parent has custodial or visitation rights. In determining the granting of visitation rights, the court shall consider evidence of domestic violence. If the court finds that domestic violence has occurred, the court may find that granting visitation to the abusive party is in the best interests of the child. (Missouri Statutes - Title 30 - Chapter 452 - Sections: 375 and 400)
Determining Child Support: The basis for determining a monthly support amount is best achieved by referring to the Missouri child support worksheet. The worksheet utilizes the child support guidelines that are defined by state law. The court will use this same worksheet as a building block for determining the support obligation, that is if you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on this issue.
The court will consider, without regard to marital misconduct, after considering all relevant factors including: (1) The financial needs and resources of the child; (2) The financial resources and needs of the parents; (3) The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved; (4) The physical and emotional condition of the child, and the child's educational needs; (5) The child's physical and legal custody arrangements, including the amount of time the child spends with each parent and the reasonable expenses associated with the custody or visitation arrangements; and (6) The reasonable work-related child care expenses of each parent.
Child support payments shall terminate when the child: (1) Dies; (2) Marries; (3) Enters active duty in the military; (4) Becomes self-supporting, provided that the custodial parent has relinquished the child from parental control by express or implied consent; (5) Reaches age eighteen, unless the child is mentally incapacitated; or (6) Reaches age twenty-two, unless the child is mentally incapacitated or attending a secondary school program of instruction. (Missouri Statutes - Title 30 - Chapter 452 - Sections: 340 and 345)
Copyright Notice: These Missouri divorce laws above are copyrighted by Divorce Source, Inc. This abbreviated and revised version of the state laws has been compiled from applicable state laws and unauthorized reproduction in any fashion is prohibited. Violation of this copyright notice may result in immediate legal action.
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