Divorce Laws in Springfield, MO

by Beverly Bird
Greene County Circuit Court will be where you file.

Greene County Circuit Court will be where you file.

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All residents of Missouri are subject to the state’s divorce laws; the circuit courts of individual counties decide family law matters based on those statutes. The Greene County Circuit Court, located within the city, serves Springfield. As one of Missouri’s more urban counties, judges tend to be less old-fashioned and traditional in Greene County than other counties; they're more willing to keep up with the statutes as they change with time.

Residency

Missouri has a three-month residency requirement for divorce. If you reside in the state for 90 days before filing your complaint, you can file in Greene County if either you or your spouse lives there. The 90 days must be continuous.

Grounds

Missouri is a “pure” no-fault state. This means you cannot file for divorce on fault grounds in Springfield. Your only option is to state in your complaint that your marriage is irretrievably broken. If your spouse doesn’t agree with this, Greene County judges have the right to continue or stall your divorce process for one to six months while you attend counseling. However, the court can’t force you to attend counseling if you’re convinced your marriage is over. The most a judge can do is suggest you attend while you wait out the delay. The judge will then decide if your marriage really is broken; the fact that you refused counseling, or completed counseling and still want a divorce, is usually enough to prove this is the case.

Property

Greene County judges decide property division in a divorce based on the concept of equitable distribution. You and your spouse won’t necessarily each receive 50 percent of your marital property. The court can deviate from such a division if it seems fair. Under Missouri law, this means a judge may consider marital misconduct, such as adultery, even though this is a no-fault state. When children are involved, Missouri allows judges to award the marital home to the parent who receives custody, if they think it is appropriate.

Child Custody

When you file a divorce complaint in Greene County, you must simultaneously file a proposed parenting plan if you have children. This tells the court how you would like to resolve issues of custody and visitation. If you and your spouse can’t agree on a custody arrangement, Missouri requires you to attend mediation. If you still can’t agree, a Greene County judge has the option of appointing a guardian ad litem, or special attorney, to protect your children’s interests in a custody trial.

Child Support

Missouri calculates child support according to the income shares model. The parent who earns more contributes more financially to the child’s needs. The custodial parent contributes her share by paying the child’s expenses directly, and the non-custodial parent makes a cash contribution to the child’s household by way of child support. If the non-custodial parent earns 60 percent of the parents’ combined incomes, and if a Greene County judge determines that meeting the child's needs require $1,000 a month, the non-custodial parent would pay $600 per month, or 60 percent of $1,000, as child support.

Spousal Support

Judges in rural areas of Missouri might be more willing to order spousal support or alimony than those in urban counties such as Greene County, according to Divorcenet.com. As when deciding property distribution, judges may consider marital misconduct when determining alimony, even though Missouri is a no-fault state. Generally, alimony awards are of limited duration, long enough for one spouse to get back on her feet financially.