Missouri Divorce Laws

Missouri Divorce Details

Some couples go through a long courtship period before getting married. The average length of an engagement is around sixteen months, however, it can be a lot quicker to get a divorce especially in Missouri.

If you have lived in Missouri for at least 90 days then you can file for a no-fault divorce. A judge will wait 30 days and if no one is contesting the divorce it will be granted. That means from start to finish it only takes a minimum of 120 days to end your Missouri marriage if there are no complications. However, it is those complications which can prolong the divorce proceedings in Missouri.

Grounds for Divorce in Missouri

Either spouse can file for a divorce in Missouri but if a no-fault divorce is contested then the petitioner (first person to file) has to prove that the respondent has broken the marriage that it can’t be fixed.

The petitioner then needs to prove the grounds for the divorce. This means proving that the respondent has cheated or has created an atmosphere that is intolerable to live in based on physical or emotional abuse. If it can be proved that the respondent has abandoned the petitioner for at least six months or they have lived apart for up to 12 months that can also be grounds for a divorce in Missouri.

Depending on the circumstances, if children are involved in the marriage a court can order some form of couple’s counseling to see if the marriage can be salvaged. A couple can also be legally separated based upon the same factors that would be used as grounds for a divorce.

Often a legal separation is put into place to establish custody and support issues on the way towards a final divorce. A couple who is legally separated is technically still married but living apart. There is always hope that a legal separation can be reconciled.

Property Distribution in Missouri

Missouri is an equitable distribution state. A divorce judge has a specific set of guidelines to use in order to divide the property and assets of the marriage. What is off the table is any property that was given to one spouse as a gift, bequest or inheritance, any property that was obtained after a legal separation, or any property that is agreed by both parties to be excluded.

Whatever is leftover after that will be divided fairly. That division is based on the current financial situations of each party, what they contributed to the marriage and where the children will be living. A judge can even consider how the husband and wife behaved during the marriage as a factor in deciding who gets what.

Alimony Awards in Missouri

If the petitioner seeks alimony from the respondent, then the judge has to first determine what the needs of the petitioner might be. This could be how much it will cost to maintain the household where the children will be living.

The judge will also consider if the petitioner will be able to support themselves at some point in the future and how much money the respondent currently makes. A judge can also consider how long the marriage lasted and the grounds for the divorce.