Missouri divorce details
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Uncontested VS Contested Divorce in Missouri
An uncontested divorce is when both spouses have mutual desire to divorce and come to an agreement on significant issues such as child custody, property division, and spousal support. In comparison, a contested divorce implies that there is fault and the spouses have issues that are unresolved. Such cases can get quite complicated and may require a trial along with a qualified attorney. As a result, contested ones tend to cost more and take longer than uncontested cases.
Uncontested Divorce in Missouri
There are several advantages to an uncontested divorce in Missouri:
- Cheaper and less time-consuming
- Can get it done yourself without an attorney, usually with the help of an online service
- Less stressful
- Less post-divorce life consequences, especially in the case children are involved
Although it is important for the spouses to negotiate and be honest with each other, an official and detailed agreement regarding the terms of their case is still required. In order to confirm the spouses’ mutual agreement, an uncontested divorce provides a special form called a Settlement agreement. This proves the intention to start an uncontested divorce and covers all the expectations of the results. All the decisions the spouses make regarding their agreement to the issues are enforced by the court after the judge approves the divorce.
Grounds for Divorce in Missouri
Missouri is considered to be a “modified no-fault state”. Most people prefer to divorce on grounds of irreconcilable differences or some conflict of interest that led to the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This is the only No-Fault ground for divorce that allows you to not reveal any details of your private life to the public.
But at the same time, Missouri divorce statutes still contain the concept of “misconduct”. This can take the form of adultery or cruelty and abuse, and it makes a Fault divorce possible in the state of Missouri.
According to Missouri law, misconduct can be an important factor when it comes to making decisions regarding property division, spousal support, and child custody in your favor.
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Missouri Residency Requirements to File for Divorce
In order to file for divorce in Missouri, you or your spouse must be a resident of the state for three months (90 days) or more before filing the dissolution.
Note that you can only file for divorce in the court of the county where either you or your spouse currently live.
How to File for an Uncontested Divorce in Missouri?
There are five basic steps you must take to file for an uncontested divorce in Missouri:
- Get the necessary documents from your county court or download it from our website. Fill out the Petition and all other paperwork.
- Print them out and file them at court. You should also pay the filing fee.
- The court reviews the documents and then sends the summons to your spouse. They have 30 days after they are served to respond.
Notice! You can attach the “Respondent’s Answer to Petition for Dissolution of Marriage” directly to your original paperwork if you and your spouse are able to meet and complete the forms together.
Wait for the final hearing. The 30-day waiting period during which your spouse has time to respond to the petition is still compulsory even if you filed as “co-petitioners” and the court has already received Respondent’s answer.
Attend the final hearing. If it is an uncontested didvorce, the final hearing is rather brief and quite simple. The Petitioner and Respondent should give some testimony. If the agreement is approved, the judge signs the order and copies are given to the spouses.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in Missouri
Nowadays, do-it-yourself divorce have become a quite popular method of terminating a marriage for many Missouri couples. It is affordable and quick, and in addition, keeps private life closed to the public. You may be eligible for such a divorce process if you and your spouse do not have any serious disagreements or issues that need to be resolved.
A DIY divorce is a legitimate and serious procedure like any other type of divorce and it requires a reasonable attitude and compliance to certain requirements. The main steps of it are quite similar to those for any other simplified uncontested case.
The difference is that you hold sole responsibility for the entire process. While an uncontested divorce can be carried out with the help of a legal body, you complete all the steps of the divorce procedure yourself in a DIY divorce. As a result, you should be careful, organized, and inquisitive. Let’s take a look at some common mistakes to avoid if you decide to do a DIY divorce.
- Choosing a DIY divorce, when you are not a good candidate for it.
It is important to keep in mind that the main condition of a successful DIY divorce is if the decision to end the marriage is mutual between both parties. You will have to negotiate and come to terms with your spouse regarding the issues of the divorce. The time and effort it takes will depend mainly on the length of the marriage and the complexity of the issues.
- You let your emotions take control.
It is easy to open up old wounds when going through a divorce. However, getting too emotional can get in the way of a successful DIY divorce if you are unable to negotiate amicably.
- Misunderstandings regarding child support.
It is important to not ignore the parenting plan for child custody if you have children involved. The basic state-mandated child support guideline amount is intended to only cover basic needs. Sometimes, the help of a mediator is needed in order to divide the responsibilities and expenses fairly.
- Completing the documents incorrectly.
Preparation of documents is one of the most important steps in the divorce process. If the paperwork is submitted incorrectly, the court will refuse them and the divorce process will be delayed. DIY divorce usually involves a lot of paperwork. Thus, it is essential to have a clear understanding of which ones are needed and how they need to be filled out.
- Time management problems.
The divorce filing process includes numerous deadlines to submit paperwork and waiting periods. It is important to stay on track and keep up with all the deadlines or risk delays in the divorce process.
How Much Does an Uncontested Divorce Cost?
The minimum cost of divorce in Missouri is equal to the filing fee and sheriff’s fee for serving your spouse with the paperwork which averages from $163 in most counties to $225 in St. Louis.
The cost can increase if you decide to hire additional services such as a lawyer. In Missouri, a lawyer’s average hourly rate of $200 can serve as a convincing reason to consider an uncontested divorce, if opportunity calls for it. At the same time, if you decide to hire an attorney for an uncontested case, the fees can be much lower at around $500.
You can save a lot of money if you decide to file for a DIY divorce. For just $149, our service provides you with all the prepared documents you need to file with the court.
How Long Does It Take to Get Divorced in Missouri?
The waiting period in Missouri is 30 days, so in theory, it is possible to complete the divorce on the 31st day. Although such a situation is rare, it is possible if you are your spouse are co-petitioners and have agreed on all the issues before filing the Petition. In other cases, the time spent on divorce depends on whether your spouse responds within the 30-day term or stays silent.
On average, an uncontested case usually takes between 50 to 90 days.
How to Serve Your Spouse in Missouri
There are two legally acceptable ways to serve your spouse with the Petition in Missouri:
- Request the service of the Sheriff and pay a $25 fee
- Through a private process service (usually comes with a fee too)
Before bringing the Petition to court, make sure to make an additional copy in advance as it will come in handy when serving your spouse.
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Documents You Need to Get a Divorce in Missouri
In Missouri, everyone who participates in any family law case and are not represented by an attorney use the forms approved by the Supreme Court. Your particular case may require additional forms, but below is a basic list of the main documents you will need:
- Notarized Petition for Dissolution.
Filing the petition is the first step to officially express your intention to get a divorce. It contains all the information regarding the couple and their reasons for divorce.
- Form FI-10: Confidential Case Filing Information Sheet - Domestic Relations Cases.
This form includes names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and birth dates of both spouses and their children if any.
- Form 14 - Presumed Child Support Amount Worksheet.
Although this form may be tricky, it is aimed at explaining the calculation of child support.
- Form 17: Family Court Information Sheet.
This form provides the court with basic information regarding other related cases previously adjudicated in any court in which any party were ever involved in.
- Parenting Plan (cases with minor children)
This form includes detailed agreements on the custody and visitation.
- Certificate of COPE Attendance (cases with minor children).
- Form CV105: Statement of Marital and Non-Marital Assets and Debts.
- Form CV100: Statement of Income & Expenses.
- Certificate of Dissolution of Marriage.
Online Divorce in Missouri
Online divorce is the process of preparing the necessary documents with the help of an online service. There are no barriers to this service if your case is an uncontested one. Online services such as ours prepare a packet of customized paperwork that fit the needs of your particular case. All you need to do is print them out, sign, and file them with the clerk.
Rules for Child Support and Visitation in Missouri
Missouri law encourages joint child custody as it is believed that to be in the best interest of the child to have frequent and meaningful contact with both parents, unless in the case the court rules otherwise.
There are two types of a child custody:
- Physical custody. When custody is joint, the child lives with one parent and the other parent has alternate weekends or one night a week and holidays with the child. If rare cases such as when one spouse is considered to be dangerous for the child, then they might be restricted of any visitation rights and the other spouse receives sole physical custody.
- Legal custody. The state of Missouri favors joint custody in this too. It implies that both parents have equal decision making power when it comes to important issues regarding the child’s life such as healthcare, education and welfare.
Child support can either be ordered when parents have 50/50 custodial arrangement, or not. Typically, the noncustodial parent provides child support for the parent who has physical custody. Child support is calculated based on certain significant grounds such as: the child’s needs such as education expenses, their physical and emotional condition, and the parents’ income.
Rules for Spousal Support in Missouri
It is possible to request spousal support (maintenance) in Missouri, and the grounds for it are not very strict. Usually, maintenance is ordered when a spouse is unable to afford basic needs or their custodial circumstance prevents them from seeing employment.
The court takes into account the length of the marriage and each spouse’s conduct during this time. Spousal support is aimed at mitigating the financial impact a divorce causes for the more dependent spouse.
Division of Property in Missouri
Missouri is an equitable distribution state. This means that property is divided in an equitable (but not necessarily equal) way.
In order to divide property, you should first distinguish between marital property (acquired during the marriage) and non-marital property (acquired prior to the marriage or received individually during the marriage). You should know the exact dates of when the property was acquired and be able to prove it. Only marital property is subject to division and non-marital property is not.
Division of Debt in Missouri
Debt and other liabilities are divided between the spouses the same way property is during the dissolution process. The court distinguishes between marital and non-marital debt and assigns them equitably between the two spouses.
Divorce Mediation in Missouri
Mediation is not required to file for divorce in Missouri. However, it is still a quite popular way to solve issues related to property division, child custody, and others.
The mediator doesn’t provide any legal advice, even if they are a lawyer. Their main job it to help the spouses to negotiate amicably and come to terms with the issues of the divorce.
According to Missouri law, mediation is a confidential process and anything discussed during the sessions should not be cited during the final hearing.
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How to Divorce a Missing Spouse in Missouri
If after the 30-day waiting period you are unable to locate your spouse, you may claim for divorce by publication. A notice will be posted in the local newspaper that announces your petition for divorce for at least 30 days.
Note that since your spouse isn’t served personally with the paperwork, the court cannot order child custody or property division; the marriage is just terminated.
The mentioned above serve by publication is a type of so-called default divorce. In all cases where the Respondent is missing, a default divorce can be granted. However, under these circumstances, the divorce process is finalized according to the terms requested by the Petitioner.
Annulment of the Marriage in Missouri
Annulment is the process that declare a marriage invalid. Any marriage that was registered without compliance with the law in force may be annulled. As a result, the grounds of annulment in Missouri are: fraud, bigamy, and impotence.
An annulment basically “erases” a marriage as it never even existed.
It is also interesting that in Missouri, you are also able to obtain an annulment for a divorce.
Legal Separation Missouri
In Missouri, legal separation is referred to as separate maintenance. It is quite fair because the court issues the same orders (such as property division and child custody) as in a divorce, but without an official dissolution.
If the spouses hold hope for reconciliation, separate maintenance may be a reasonable option. They remain married but are given time to solve their issues. Separate maintenance may be canceled only after full reconciliation.
Same-Sex Divorce in Missouri
Missouri dropped “consensual sodomy” from its statute only three years after the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision (Lawrence v. Texas) that declared laws banning same-gender marriages as unconstitutional.
However, the legal landscape in America changed significantly in July 2015, and now, same-sex coupleshave the fundamental right to marry in all 50 states. The process for divorce is the same for them as any other divorce case.
Military Divorce in Missouri
If you or your spouse is the military, they must still be served with the necessary paperwork in order to file for divorce. However, the case may be paused while the military spouse is on active duty. This means that the court puts a hold on all the issues and does not take any action until both spouses are handle the divorce personally.
How to Divorce a Spouse in Jail in Missouri
If your spouse is in jail, you can file for a default divorce by publication because they are not allowed to attend the final hearing.
The terms of termination of the marriage by publication remains the same as in the case of a missing spouse.
However, if you insist on a fault-based divorce, your case will be delayed.
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Missouri Divorce Filing Fee
Court filing fees are in addition to the cost of using DivorceFiller.com. This cost may vary by county. Please check with your local courthouse to determine the exact amount.
Can a Filing Fee Be Waived?
The filing fee may be waived for indigent petitioners. You must provide the court with proof of your financial difficulty and your inability to pay. The court reviews the information and either approves or denies your request.
Furthermore, Missouri’s statutes include provisions for one spouse to pay the legal fees for the other spouse if their income significantly higher.
How We Can Help
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