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File for Divorce in Missouri

File for Divorce in Missouri


How to File for Divorce in Missouri



Divorcing is never easy, but it doesn't have to be especially complicated—particularly in a state like Missouri, that makes divorce relatively easy.  This guide will show you easy, step-by-step instructions on how to file for divorce in Missouri.



1.  Make Sure You're Eligible



In order to file for divorce in Missouri, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least 90 days before the complaint is filed.  Your complaint must be filed in the county where you or your spouse resides.



2.  Fill Out and File Your Divorce Complaint



A divorce complaint simply means the forms that begin the legal divorce process.  To file for divorce in Missouri, you must fill out a divorce complaint on your own or fill out a joint petition for divorce with your spouse.  Whichever method you choose, you will need to include information like the names and dates of birth of both spouses, your addresses, the location and date of your marriage, and what you want to ask for in the divorce (from the divorce itself to child support or even a restraining order).



The state of Missouri is a no-fault state, which means that when you file for divorce in Missouri you do not need to specify a fault in your spouse to divorce them.  You will have to allege that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, which constitutes no-fault grounds for divorce.



3.  Serve Your Spouse With Papers



Once you have filed for divorce in Missouri courts, you will be required to officially notify your spouse (a process called “serving”) by giving them a copy of the forms and some instructions about the remainder of the divorce process.  These papers will notify your spouse about their right to make an official written answer to the complaint.



4.  Hurry Up and Wait



Once you have filed for divorce, even if you have filed a joint petition or can agree to a settlement right away, you must wait 30 days after you file for divorce in Missouri before the judge can award the divorce.  Depending on whether your divorce goes all the way to a hearing or not, it may take only the required 30 days or it could take additional months.



If your spouse does not file a written answer to your complaint, after 30 days you can get what is called a “divorce by default.”  Typically, this involves the judge signing off on the conditions of divorce that you outlined in your complaint.



5.  Attend the Divorce Hearing



A divorce hearing or pre-trial conference will generally conclude the divorce process.  A judge will look at the areas where you and your spouse disagree, and both spouses will get to present their sides of the case.  It can take months after you file for divorce in Missouri to get to this stage if there are expert witnesses or a difficult financial investigation is required.