Missouri Divorce Laws – What You Need to Know!

Each state has its own requirements when it comes to ending a marriage. Missouri laws governing the divorce process include Missouri Revised Statutes, Section 452.240 and 452.305.1. These laws govern residency requirements, waiting periods, property division, child support and more.

Is Missouri a No-Fault Divorce State?

Yes, Missouri is a no fault divorce state. This means that the plaintiff does not need to provide that the respondent committed adultery, deserted the other spouse, is involved in criminal activity or other faults. He or she only needs to say that the marriage was irretrievably broken.

There are times when the court will take fault into account, though. In cases that involve child custody, child support, spousal support and property division, the judge may consider any of the following:

  • Adultery
  • Intolerable behavior from one spouse to the other
  • Abandonment
  • Couple has been living apart for 12 months if both parties agree on that time frame or 24 months if there is a disagreement.

There are more faults that may be considered depending on the specific situation.

What Are Missouri’s Residency Requirements for Divorce?

One or both spouses must have lived in Missouri for 90 days. The petition for divorce must be filed in the county in which the petitioner lives in.

What Is Legal Separation in Missouri?

The court can grant a legal separation in much the same way as a divorce, including the grounds. The court can make decisions on property division, child support, child custody and spousal support. A legal separation often precedes a divorce. Both spouses can also agree on these issues that the court can then approve.

Does Missouri Require Counseling or Mediation?

If the married couple has children, the court may order that they receive counseling. Before custody is granted, both parents must complete a parenting class, which is offered online.

Mediation may be required by the court in order to see if the couple can resolve any of the issues that the court may end up having to determine. However, if there is a history of domestic violence or if the spouses are in agreement over custody, then mediation will not be required.

How Will Property Be Distributed in a Missouri Divorce?

If both parties are unable to come to an agreement over the distribution of marital property, then the court will do so. Missouri is an equitable division state, but that does not necessarily mean that the division will be 50/50. The court will consider the following before rending a decision:

  • Each spouse’s current economic situation, including whether or not one spouse is getting the family home
  • How much each spouse has contributed to the marital property, including a spouse who was a homemaker
  • If there are accusations of fault during the marriage
  • Child custody arrangements.
  • The amount of separate property that belongs to each spouse.

Does Missouri Allow Spousal Support?

Yes, spousal support may be awarded if the spouse seeking it does not have enough property or assets to provide for him- or herself. The court will also consider the age of the parties, their health, the length of marriage, how much either party made while employed and how long it would take for the party seeking support to receive sufficient training or education to become employed.

Does a Woman Have to Change Her Name?

No, a woman does not have to change her name when she gets divorced. However, if this is something that the woman wants, she can petition the court for a name change as long as the change would not be “detrimental to the interests of any other person.”

While there are other areas of divorce that may need to be addressed in a Missouri divorce, it is highly suggested that the advice of an experienced family law attorney is sought. This can help ensure your rights are protected during the divorce.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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