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Do You Need a Reason For Divorce in Missouri?

Do You Need a Reason For Divorce in MissouriIn Missouri, divorce follows a no-fault approach, meaning that one spouse can initiate divorce proceedings without stating a specific reason. There is no mandatory waiting period, and it is not necessary to prove any form of misconduct by either party during the marriage.

The only requirement when presenting the case to the court is to declare that the marriage is irretrievably broken. However, note that wrongdoing by either spouse can still impact the terms of the divorce. We explain how it works in this article. For legal advice specific to your case, consult with our experienced divorce attorney.

Reason for Filing Divorce in Missouri

The Missouri divorce petition does not require a particular cause for seeking divorce. The standard form merely includes two questions about the marriage’s future:

  • Is there a reasonable possibility of saving the marriage?
  • Is the marriage irreparably damaged?

For divorce filing in Missouri, one party must have been a resident of the state for a minimum of 90 days. The divorce commences when one spouse submits a Petition of Dissolution of Marriage to the court.

In the event that both parties assert that the marriage is irreparably damaged – or if neither spouse disputes this claim – the court will determine that the marriage is indeed irretrievably broken and issue a decree of marriage dissolution.

However, the court may postpone the divorce proceedings if one spouse contends that the marriage is still repairable.

What Happens If One Spouse Refuses to Acknowledge That The Marriage is Broken?

According to Missouri Revised Statute § 452.320.2, if either party declares under oath that the marriage is not irretrievably broken, the court must assess whether or not it is. This evaluation includes examining the circumstances that led to the filing of the divorce petition as well as the possibility of reconciliation.

The factors that establish whether the marriage is irrecoverable and whether a divorce should be granted include:

  • The respondent has engaged in adultery, making it impossible for the divorce petitioner to continue living with them.
  • The respondent has exhibited such behavior that it is unreasonable for the petitioner to cohabitate with them.
  • The respondent has deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of at least six months before the submission of the divorce petition.
  • Both parties to the marriage have mutually agreed to live separately for twelve months immediately before seeking legal action.
  • Both parties have lived apart for a continuous period of no less than twenty-four months prior to initiating the petition.

The court has the option to postpone the verdict for a duration ranging from 30 days to 6 months, after which it will reassess the situation. Throughout this period, the court may recommend that the involved parties consider seeking counseling.

Can a Spouse’s Misconduct Affect a Divorce in Missouri?

Yes, spousal misconduct may have an impact on various aspects of divorce, even as Missouri does not require misconduct as grounds for divorce. Some areas in which such misconduct may influence the divorce terms include:

  • Property Division: The court will take into account the behavior and actions of both parties during the marriage to determine a fair and equitable division of the marital property.
  • Spousal Maintenance: In determining whether to grant spousal maintenance (also referred to as alimony), as well as the amount and duration, the court will consider the conduct of the parties during the marriage.
  • Child Custody and Visitation: When making decisions regarding child custody and visitation rights, the court will consider the conduct of the parties during the marriage and how it may impact the best interests of the child.

Do You Need a Lawyer For a “No-Fault” Divorce in Missouri?

Although it is not mandatory to have legal representation, even a seemingly uncomplicated divorce has the potential to quickly escalate into a contentious situation. To safeguard your parental and financial rights effectively, it is advisable to have an attorney support your case.

Instead of waiting for a problem to arise, consult with an attorney without delay. While you may opt to adopt a wait-and-see approach, the most reliable means of safeguarding your interests throughout the divorce process is by seeking early guidance from a seasoned divorce attorney.

Contact a Proficient Missouri Divorce Lawyer

To protect your spousal rights, financial interests, and parental rights in a Missouri divorce, contact Shea Kohl Law. With our extensive experience and unwavering commitment to clients, we are well-equipped to represent your interests in divorce proceedings.

Whether you require guidance or representation in divorce matters in Missouri, we urge you to reach out to Shea Kohl Law, LC. Call us today at (636) 946-9999.

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Shea Kohl Law, LC serves clients in Missouri including St. Charles, Troy and Lincoln and throughout Warren and St. Louis counties. We also serve clients in Illinois.