What You Need to Know About Filing for Divorce in Missouri
Missouri has specific laws regulating the divorce process. Here’s everything you need to know about filing for divorce in Missouri.
Missouri is a no-fault divorce state meaning one spouse can file for divorce without providing a reason. It is important to obtain a baseline understanding of Missouri’s divorce laws and requirements.
Missouri’s Divorce Laws
A divorce is the formal dissolution of a legal marriage, terminating all marital rights and responsibilities. Divorce proceedings likely involve alimony, child support, and child custody disputes.
Missouri Divorce Residency Requirements
Missouri law institutes the following residency requirements in a divorce case:
a. Either you or your spouse has been a Missouri resident for at least 90 days preceding your divorce petition; or
b. Either you or your spouse is a member of the armed services stationed in Missouri for at least 90 days before you filed for divorce; and
c. At least 30 days have passed since you filed for divorce.
Grounds for Divorce
The court can either grant parties a no-fault or fault-based divorce:
Both parties petitioned or stated under oath that the marriage is irretrievably broken; or
One party petitioned or stated under oath that the marriage is irretrievably broken, and the other party never denied such assertion; and
The court reviews the petition and determines whether to order a dissolution of the marriage.
The court reviews all pertinent evidence when one party denies the marriage is irretrievably broken under oath.
The court may grant a fault-based divorce if the petitioner can prove one of the following facts:
a. Their spouse committed adultery, rendering it intolerable to live with them.
b. Their spouse behaves in such a way, making it unreasonable for the petitioner to live with them.
c. Their spouse abandoned them for at least six months before the petition for divorce.
d. The parties have mutually separated for at least one year before the petition for divorce.
e. The parties have separated for at least two years before the petition for divorce.
The Divorce Process in Missouri
The following divorce process pertains to uncontested divorce cases:
- The petitioner, or the spouse who starts the dissolution case, files a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage” (CAFC001) form telling the court what the case is about, who the respondent is, and what relief they wish to obtain.
- The petitioner must sign the petition under oath in the presence of a notary.
- The petitioner must file other required forms, including a(n):
- Income and Expense Statement
- Statement of Property and Debt
- Parenting Plan (only when children are involved)
- Certificate of Dissolution
- Proposed Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage
4. The petitioner must serve the respondent an official notice about the case filing. The court may delay or dismiss your case if the petitioner completes the service incorrectly.
Common methods of service include:
- Waiver of Personal Service: The respondent accepts the petition and signs an “Entry of Appearance and Waiver of Service” form in the presence of a notary.
- Personal Service: A sheriff or other court officer hand delivers the petition and summons to the respondent.
- Private or Special Process Server: The court may appoint a special or private process server when the respondent is difficult to find or actively avoids service.
5. The respondent must file an answer within 30 days of receiving the summons and petition. The petitioner can automatically ask the court for relief if the respondent fails to file an answer within 30 days.
6. The case is uncontested when the spouses agree on all relevant issues. When the spouses fail to reach an agreement, the case is contested. The court may require spouses to attend mediation to help resolve their issues. The court may waive the mediation requirement for good cause, such as domestic abuse.
7. The litigant must request a hearing with the circuit court to get on the docket. The judge reviews the evidence at the hearing and subsequently renders a judgment.
8. After the hearing, the judge will provide a written order instructing the parties to complete activities such as:
- Transfer property
- Sign documents
- Pay money; and/or
- Change names on automobile titles, insurance policies, bank accounts, retirement accounts, credit card accounts, and deeds
9. The petitioner must initiate enforcement or contempt proceedings when their former spouse ignores the judge’s orders.
10. Unless a party files an appeal, the dissolution is final 30 days after the judge signs the judgment.
Missouri Divorce Forms
In an uncontested divorce, the petitioner must file the following divorce forms:
a. Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (CAFC001)
b. Certificate of Dissolution of Marriage
c. Statement of Income and Expenses (CAFC050)
d. Statement of Property and Debt and Proposed Separation Agreement (CAFC040)
e. Respondent’s Answer to Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (CAFC010-R)
f. Judgment and Decree of Dissolution of Marriage (CAFC070)
g. Filing Information Sheet
h. Parenting Plan (CAFC501)
i. Notice of Hearing (CAFC721)
You must check with the circuit clerk’s office to see if you need to file any additional forms.
The Cost of a Divorce in Missouri
Missouri does not offer a universal divorce cost. Some factors affecting the cost of divorce include the type of divorce, attorney fees, filing fees, sheriff’s fees for serving the respondent, and more.