Five counties are included in the 319 square miles that make up metropolitan Kansas City, Missouri. State laws govern all issues of divorce, including fault grounds, custody, visitation, child support, alimony and property division. However, the procedures to file for divorce vary slightly from county to county. Depending on the circumstances and which county you file in, you might have to file financial statements, separation agreements, parenting plans and proposed orders when you file your petition. If you hire an attorney, some of this information can be filed later. Whether you file on your own, hire an attorney or use an online document preparation service, the laws are the same in Kansas City as in the rest of the state.
Missouri law requires you or your spouse live in the state and county for at least 90 days prior to the filing of a divorce action. If minor children are involved, the residency requirement is six months. To file for divorce in Kansas City, you can file in either Jackson, Clay, Cass, Platte or Ray counties.
Like other states, Missouri divorce law provides for no-fault divorce, which means you do not have to determine who is to blame in your divorce. A party does not have to prove her spouse committed some kind of misconduct. The state only requires you to prove the marriage is irretrievably broken and there is no reasonable likelihood of its preservation. If both parties agree to this in the divorce filings, the court will generally grant the divorce. However, proving fault, such as adultery, abuse or substance abuse problems, can influence property division and alimony.
The counties that make up Kansas City all require you to file a Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage, which you can obtain from the court clerk or the Missouri Supreme Court's Representing Yourself in Missouri Courts website. You can use the form provided by the state website or draft a petition yourself. If you hire an attorney, he will draft a petition for you. The petition must include addresses for you and your spouse if you know your spouse's address, date and location of your marriage, separation date if you are separated, and last four digits of your Social Security number and your spouse's. If you have minor children, you must provide information about the children and where they have lived. You can include a request for the marital property you want in the petition. For example, if you want to keep the marital home, you can ask for this in your petition. Alternatively, you can include your request for marital property in the separation agreement if you file the state form for self-representing litigants. Your petition must be verified, which means you must sign it in the presence of a notary public or have your lawyer sign it, then you must sign a verification. The divorce petition and accompanying documents must be served on your spouse. It can be delivered by a sheriff’s deputy or process server. If your spouse agrees to accept the petition without being served, he can sign an Answer to file with the court. You can get the form for an Answer and many other documents on the Representing Yourself in Missouri Courts website. You can serve your spouse by certified mail, if he lives out of state, or by publication if you cannot locate him.
You should file the petition for divorce and accompanying documents with the Circuit Court in your county. Make two copies of all documents and have them stamped by the clerk; one copy is for you and one is for your spouse. If your spouse has provided an Answer and you include it with your Petition, you need to make only two copies. Pay the filing fee required in your county. If you cannot afford to pay the filing fee, request a waiver.