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Divorce is often a difficult and emotional process. In Missouri, there are specific legal requirements that must be met in order to obtain a divorce. Understanding the steps involved in the process can help make the experience less overwhelming.

To begin the process of getting a divorce in Missouri, one spouse must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the Circuit Court in the county where they or their spouse resides. This document outlines the grounds for divorce and the terms sought by the filing spouse, such as property division, child custody and support, and spousal maintenance. The other spouse must be served with a copy of the petition, after which they have 30 days to respond.

The next step is generally to attend mediation, which is required in most cases in Missouri. Mediation is an opportunity for the parties to work with a neutral third party to try to negotiate a settlement. If mediation is successful, the parties can submit their agreement to the court for approval. If mediation is not successful, the case will proceed to court and a judge will make a decision on the contested issues.

Filing for Divorce: What You Need to Know

If you are looking to file for divorce in Missouri, there are a few things you should know. Divorce can either be contested or uncontested, depending on whether or not both parties agree on the terms of the separation. In Missouri, you must establish residency for at least 90 days before you can file for divorce. Additionally, there is a mandatory 30-day waiting period after the petition is filed before the divorce can be finalized.

Types of Divorce in Missouri

In Missouri, there are two main types of divorce: contested and uncontested. A contested divorce means that both parties cannot agree on the terms of the separation, such as property division, alimony, and child custody. The judge will need to hear arguments and evidence from both sides before making a decision. A contested divorce can take a longer time to finalize and can be more expensive in terms of legal fees.

On the other hand, an uncontested divorce means that both parties agree on all the major issues related to the separation, and may only need the court to verify the terms. This process is generally faster and more straightforward, involving less legal fees.

Filing Process for Divorce in Missouri

To file for divorce in Missouri, you will need to follow these steps:

  1. Meet the residency requirements: At least one spouse must have been a resident of Missouri for at least 90 days before filing.
  2. Prepare and file a Petition for Dissolution: This document outlines the reasons for the divorce, the division of assets, and requests for child custody or spousal support.
  3. Serve the papers: The other party must be officially served with the Petition for Dissolution.
  4. Wait for a response: The other party has thirty days to respond to the petition, after which the court will determine the case’s course.
  5. Attend mediation: In some cases, a judge may order the parties to attend mediation to try to reach an agreement.
  6. Receive a decree: If the parties are unable to agree, a judge will issue a decree, finalizing the divorce.

It is recommended to hire an experienced divorce attorney to guide you through the process, ensure your legal rights are protected, and potentially speed up the proceedings.

Grounds for Divorce in Missouri

In Missouri, there are both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. No-fault divorce is the most common type of divorce and is generally the easiest and least expensive route to obtaining a divorce. No-fault divorce simply means that you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences that have led to the breakdown of the marriage and the marriage cannot be saved.

The spouse who files for divorce in Missouri must state the grounds for divorce in the petition they file with the court. The following are the grounds for divorce in Missouri:

No-Fault Divorce

In a no-fault divorce, the petitioner must simply state that the marriage is irretrievably broken and there is no chance of reconciliation. The court will not take into consideration which spouse is at fault for the breakdown of the marriage.

Fault Divorce

In a fault divorce, one spouse must prove that the other spouse has committed a fault. Fault grounds for divorce in Missouri include:

  • Adultery
  • Abandonment
  • Bigamy
  • Imprisonment for a felony
  • Divorce obtained in another state without recognition in Missouri
  • Indignities
  • Sexual or physical abuse
  • Living apart without justification for more than 1 year

It is important to note that fault divorces can be more difficult and expensive, as the spouse filing for divorce must prove that the other spouse committed one of these grounds for divorce.

In conclusion, whether you choose a fault or no-fault divorce in Missouri depends on your individual circumstances. It is important to discuss the options with a family law attorney to determine which route is best for you.

Residency Requirements


Before getting a divorce in Missouri, it is important to know the residency requirements. The residency requirements in Missouri state that either the person filing for divorce or their spouse must have been a resident of Missouri for at least 90 days before filing for divorce.

Residency Guidelines

When filing for divorce in Missouri, you must provide proof of Missouri residency. This may include a valid Missouri driver’s license, voter registration card, or other official documents that show your legal residence in Missouri. You do not need to be a U.S. citizen to file for divorce in Missouri, but you must be legally residing in the state.

If you and your spouse are both residents of Missouri and are filing for divorce in Missouri, the residency requirement would apply to both of you. If only one of you is a resident of Missouri, that spouse must have been a resident for at least 90 days before filing.

The residency requirement is a very important factor in Missouri divorce cases. If you or your spouse do not meet the residency requirement, the court will not have jurisdiction to hear your divorce case.

Completing the Petition

Once you have determined the grounds for divorce and where to file, the next step is completing the Petition form. This is the legal document that officially starts the divorce process, and it must be filled out accurately and completely.

The following information needs to be included in the Petition form:

1. Personal Information

You will need to provide basic personal information for both yourself and your spouse, including full legal names, addresses, and date of birth. It is important to ensure that this information is current and accurate to avoid any potential delays in the divorce process.

2. Grounds for Divorce

As mentioned in the previous section, you will need to specify the grounds for divorce in the Petition form. Missouri recognizes both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. Fault-based grounds include adultery, abandonment, and abuse, while no-fault grounds include irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

3. Child Custody, Support, and Visitation

If you have children, you will need to address issues such as child custody, support, and visitation in the Petition form. This is a crucial part of the divorce process, and it is important to work with your attorney to ensure that your rights and the best interests of your children are protected.

4. Division of Property and Debts

Finally, the Petition form should also address how property and debts will be divided between you and your spouse. This can be a complex and emotional aspect of the divorce process, but it is important to be as honest and transparent as possible in disclosing all assets and liabilities.

Once you have completed the Petition form, it must be filed with the appropriate court and served to your spouse. After your spouse has been served, they will have a set amount of time to respond to the Petition. If they do not respond within this timeframe, a default judgment may be entered against them.

Completing the Petition form correctly and accurately is critical to the success of your divorce case. If you have any questions or concerns, it is important to work closely with an experienced Missouri divorce attorney to ensure that your rights and interests are protected throughout the process.

Serving the Petition

After filing for divorce in Missouri, you must provide your spouse with a copy of the petition and summons. This process is known as “serving the petition.” Here are the steps to properly serve the petition:

  1. Get the necessary forms: In Missouri, you can either hire a process server or sheriff’s deputy to serve the petition, or you can serve it yourself. If you choose to serve it yourself, you will need to obtain a “Request for Service” form from the circuit clerk’s office. You must also make a copy of the petition and summons to serve on your spouse.
  2. Serve the petition: You or the process server must personally deliver a copy of the petition and summons to your spouse. This can be done in several ways, including:
  • Handing it to your spouse directly
  • Leaving it with someone else at your spouse’s home or place of work who is at least 15 years old
  • Mailing a copy of the petition and summons to your spouse via certified mail with return receipt requested
  1. File proof of service: After serving the petition, you must file a “Proof of Service” form with the court to show that your spouse has been properly served. If you used a process server or sheriff’s deputy, they will provide you with a proof of service form. If you served the papers yourself, you will need to fill out the form and have it notarized.

It is important to note that if your spouse cannot be located or refuses to accept the papers, you may need to go through additional legal steps before you can proceed with the divorce. Additionally, it is always recommended to seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney to ensure you are following all the necessary steps and to assist with any complications that may arise during the divorce process.

Overall, serving the petition is a crucial step in the divorce process in Missouri. By following the proper steps and procedures, you can ensure that your spouse has been formally notified of the divorce and that the process can move forward.

Responding To The Divorce Petition

In the state of Missouri, the divorce process involves a complex set of legal procedures that both parties must follow carefully to ensure a fair and equitable divorce settlement. One of the most important steps is the response from the spouse once the divorce petition has been submitted.

The response from the spouse typically comes in the form of a document known as an Answer. This document addresses the allegations made in the petition and sets out the spouse’s position on various issues, such as child custody, division of property, and spousal support. The spouse has 30 days to respond to the petition after receiving it, although an extension may be granted in certain circumstances.

When filing an answer, the spouse should consult with an experienced divorce attorney who can guide them through the process and ensure that their rights and interests are protected. The answer must be filed with the court clerk and a copy must be served on the petitioner or their attorney.

In the answer, the spouse should make it clear which parts of the petition they agree with and which parts they disagree with. If they disagree with any of the allegations in the petition, they must explain why and provide evidence that supports their position. The spouse should also state their position on any ancillary issues that are relevant to the divorce, such as child custody, visitation, and support.

It’s important to note that the answer is not the final word on these issues. The parties may continue to negotiate and attempt to reach a settlement outside of court. If they are unable to do so, a trial may be necessary to resolve any outstanding issues.

Discovery Process

In the state of Missouri, the discovery phase of a divorce case is an important part of the litigation process. During this phase, each spouse must provide full and honest disclosures of all income, assets, debts, and expenses. This information is essential to reaching fair and equitable resolutions on property division, spousal support, and child support issues.

Discovery can take many forms, including written interrogatories, requests for production, requests for admission, and depositions. Written interrogatories are lists of questions that one party sends to the other, which must be answered under oath. Requests for production require the other party to produce documents relevant to the case, such as bank records, tax returns, and employment records.

Requests for admission ask the other party to admit or deny certain facts about the case so that the parties can narrow the issues in dispute. Depositions are formal meetings where one party’s attorney can question the other party or witnesses under oath. This allows both parties to obtain valuable information about the other side’s position.

Overall, the discovery process is a critical part of the litigation process. It allows both parties to obtain information necessary to develop their case and make informed decisions about settlement negotiations or trial. If one party fails to provide full and honest disclosures, they risk losing credibility with the court and potentially facing sanctions.

Settling The Divorce

In Missouri, the discovery process is guided by the Missouri Rules of Civil Procedure and the local rules of the individual court handling the case. It is important to work with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the discovery process and ensure that your rights are protected.

When it comes to settling a divorce case in Missouri, there are a few options to consider. Once both parties have had the chance to present their case, the judge will make a final decision on how the marital assets will be split and what the custody arrangement will be.

One option for settling the divorce is through mediation. This is a process in which both parties work with a neutral third party to come to a mutually beneficial agreement. Mediation can be a great way to avoid a contentious court battle and save time and money.

Another option is to settle through a written settlement agreement. This is a document that outlines the terms of the divorce settlement and is submitted to the court for approval. This approach can be beneficial because it allows both parties to have control over the outcome of the case and can avoid a lengthy and expensive trial.

If mediation and a written settlement agreement are not successful, the case may proceed to trial. It’s crucial to have a skilled divorce attorney representing you during the trial to ensure that your interests are protected. At trial, both parties present their evidence and arguments to the judge, who will then make the final decision.

No matter which route is chosen, settling a divorce in Missouri can be a challenging and emotional process. It’s important to remember to prioritize your wellbeing and seek support throughout the process.

Finalizing the Divorce

Once all the issues and disputes between the spouses have been resolved, it’s time to finalize the divorce. This is the last stage of the legal process and involves the entry of the final judgment of dissolution of marriage by the court. Some specific steps in finalizing the divorce include:

Filing the Final Decree

The final decree is the official document that ends the marriage. Once the terms of the divorce have been agreed upon, the final decree, also known as a dissolution judgment, must be drafted. The parties’ attorneys will typically prepare the document, and it is then submitted to the court for approval. Once it’s approved, the court will enter the final judgment.

Appearing in Court

Most divorces require at least one court appearance where a judge will review the terms of the final decree and ensure that everything is in order. If the judge approves the terms, they will sign the final decree, and the divorce will be finalized. It’s crucial to arrive early and dress appropriately for court.

Distribution of Assets

After the final decree has been entered, the assets must be distributed according to the agreed-upon terms. If there are any joint property, bank accounts, or other shared assets, they must be divided fairly. If one spouse is entitled to alimony or child support payments, arrangements need to be made to ensure they are paid on time.

Updating Key Documents and Accounts

After the divorce is finalized, both parties must update crucial documents such as their driving license, social security, and passport. They also need to update bank accounts, credit cards, and other financial accounts to reflect their new marital status. This will help ensure a smooth transition and avoid any legal or financial issues that may arise in the future.


Finalizing a divorce can be emotionally challenging, but it’s essential to complete the process to move forward with your life. By following the above steps, both parties can ensure a fair division of assets and a seamless transition to their new lives. It’s always best to work with an experienced attorney to ensure that the divorce process goes as smoothly as possible.

After going through the detailed steps of getting divorced in Missouri, it is important to reiterate that the process may not be the same for everyone. Couples who have mutually decided to divorce and have no disputes regarding property, debts, assets, and children may have a smoother and quicker process compared to those who have contested issues.

It is recommended that both parties consider hiring lawyers, even if it’s just for consultation purposes. This can help them better understand their legal rights and ensure that all the legal requirements are fulfilled during the process.

Moreover, while mediation and collaboration can be helpful in resolving disputes, it is important to remember that certain cases may require the intervention of the court. In such cases, it is important to have a clear understanding of the court’s deadlines, procedures, and requirements.

It is important to keep in mind that getting divorced can be an emotional and financial challenge. It is recommended that both parties take necessary measures to secure their finances, health, well-being, and future plans.

In summary, getting divorced in Missouri requires a thorough understanding and adherence to legal requirements. It is recommended that both parties take the necessary steps to ensure a smooth and fair process.

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