Missouri Divorce Law & Spousal Abuse

By Elizabeth Rayne

Although Missouri law does not specifically list spousal abuse as grounds for divorce, providing evidence of domestic violence may help your divorce case. The state does not place fault on either spouse in dissolving a marriage. However, evidence of spousal abuse demonstrates that the marriage is irrevocably broken. Additionally, spousal abuse may lead to a more favorable divorce decree, particularly when it comes to child custody.

Although Missouri law does not specifically list spousal abuse as grounds for divorce, providing evidence of domestic violence may help your divorce case. The state does not place fault on either spouse in dissolving a marriage. However, evidence of spousal abuse demonstrates that the marriage is irrevocably broken. Additionally, spousal abuse may lead to a more favorable divorce decree, particularly when it comes to child custody.

Grounds for Divorce

Missouri is a no-fault state, meaning the courts will only grant a divorce on the grounds that the marriage is irretrievably broken. If the divorce is contested, and the other spouse denies the marriage is broken, it is appropriate to present evidence of abuse to support your claim. In order to dissolve the marriage in a contested case, the court must typically find that your spouse is intolerable to live with, you cannot reasonably be expected to continue living with your spouse, or you and your spouse have lived separately for 12 months or more.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Petition for Divorce

Court proceedings for a divorce in Missouri begin with filing a petition for dissolution of marriage in the circuit court of the county where either you or your spouse reside. On the petition, you may include allegations of abuse, particularly if you believe your spouse may challenge the grounds for divorce. Additionally, you may indicate that you want the court to decide on property division, spousal maintenance, child custody and child support. If the children were also victims of domestic violence, you may include that information on the petition in the section on child custody.

Effect of Domestic Violence on Divorce

In determining child custody and support, as well as spousal maintenance and property division, the court may consider the history of domestic violence. To decide the child custody arrangement, the court is primarily concerned with what is in the best interest of the child, and will take the history of domestic violence and the safety of the child into consideration. While the child support order is mainly related to the finances of each parent, and not the conduct of either spouse during the marriage, the court will consider how much time the child spends with each parent in making a support determination. Similarly, the court will look at the finances of each spouse when determining spousal support and property division, but the conduct of the parties during the marriage will also be taken into consideration.

Providing Evidence

Missouri courts will only take spousal abuse into consideration in divorce orders if you can prove that it actually happened. You may provide testimony about the incidents of abuse and provide physical or documentary evidence. Evidence may include photos, medical records, police reports, or protective or restraining orders. In order to show the effect spousal abuse has had on your children, you may also present your children's school, counseling or medical records as evidence.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
How Does Georgia Define Verbal Abuse in a Divorce Case?

References

Related articles

A Tennessee Divorce: Can an Abusive Husband Get Custody of the Children?

Tennessee law favors joint custody when couples divorce, but Section 4:1.04 of the state's code instructs judges that "in domestic abuse cases, joint custody is inappropriate." If a judge follows this rule and does not order joint custody after an abusive marriage, it's unlikely that he would give sole custody to the parent who made joint custody inappropriate through his abusive behavior. This would effectively reward him for committing the abuse.

Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act

If you are considering divorce or are in the midst of a divorce proceeding, the provisions of the Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act might shed some light on the likely outcome of your particular case. The Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act is more accurately known as the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act and paved the way for the modern concept of no-fault divorce. Drafted in 1970, the UDMA serves as a model state marriage and divorce statute. States are not required to enact a model statute, but this act has been adopted in a handful of U.S. states -- and closely followed by nearly all others.

How to Get Full Custody of a Child in Texas

If you cannot agree on custody terms with your child's other parent and you desire full custody of your child, you will need to be prepared to engage in a custody battle. . Obtaining full custody in Texas is difficult as there is a presumption that joint custody will be most beneficial to the child. Before you begin, determine if you already have a custody order regarding your child. If you have not previously filed for custody you will need to seek a new custody order with the court. If you already have an custody order, you will seek to modify that order.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

What Are the Causes of Supervised Visitation of a Child in Missouri in a Divorce?

The Missouri court's primary concern when deciding issues of custody is the best interests of the child. Generally, the ...

Divorce in Missouri If Your Spouse Has Mental Problems

Your spouse's mental health problems may affect some aspects of your divorce case in Missouri. Although state law in ...

How Does Spouse Abuse Affect Child Custody?

Courts and parents alike want to keep children safe from harm. In determining the custody arrangement following a ...

Family Law on Alimony and Physical Abuse

No-fault divorce went nationwide in 2010 when New York became the last state to recognize grounds such as ...

Browse by category