Information on Missouri Divorce Laws

by Elizabeth Stock
You can file for divorce in Missouri without the assistance of an attorney.

You can file for divorce in Missouri without the assistance of an attorney.

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Filing for divorce can be overwhelming and navigating the divorce laws can be cumbersome. For example, you should consider several issues before filing for divorce in Missouri, including whether you or your spouse will take care of your children and, if you two can agree, the distribution of marital property. In addition, before you can file for divorce in Missouri, you must live in the state for at least 90 days to establish residency.

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Grounds for Divorce

Missouri only recognizes irretrievable breakdown of the marriage as a ground for divorce. The court must be satisfied that the marriage is irretrievably broken and spouses have no chance of reconciling before the court will grant the divorce. An issue may arise if one spouse does not want the divorce to proceed and testifies under oath that the marriage is not irretrievably broken. In this situation, the court will consider all factors when deciding whether the divorce shall proceed, such as what the couple's chances are for reconciling and the circumstances that caused the petitioner spouse to file for divorce. In addition, if your spouse has committed a wrongful act, such as adultery, or you and your spouse have lived separately for at least 12 months before filing for divorce, you must also bring these facts to the court's attention during the hearing.

Equitable Distribution

Missouri courts divide property according to the rules of equitable distribution. Equitable distribution does not mean that marital property will be evenly divided between spouses, but that the court will divide the property in a manner the court finds fair after considering several factors. For example, the court will weigh the financial circumstances of each spouse at the time of the divorce and each spouse's contribution to the marital property. Also, the court will consider each spouse's conduct during the marriage and whether one parent will be the primary caregiver of the children.

Child Custody

To make decisions regarding child custody, a Missouri court will consider what is in the best interest of the child. The court evaluates several factors when making this determination, including each spouse's wishes, according to a parenting plan the parents submit to the court, and the interactions between each spouse and the child. The court also considers the child's adjustment to his current home and school and whether any parental abuse has taken place in the past.

Spousal Support

Spousal support may be available to you following a divorce. To determine whether spousal support is appropriate, the court considers several factors, including the duration of the marriage and division of marital property. The court will also evaluate the employment prospects of both spouses and whether one spouse serves as a child's caregiver. The court does not consider marital misconduct when determining whether spousal support is appropriate.