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How Long Does It Take To Get A Divorce In Missouri?

Divorce can be a difficult and lengthy process.

In Missouri, the minimum amount of time for a divorce to be granted is 30 days after all the paperwork has been submitted in court. This 30-day period is set by law to give the couple enough time to cool off and avoid making impulsive decisions.

Can a Missouri divorce be finalized in less than 30 days?

Some divorce cases in the state can take between 6 months to 1 year before a Decree of Dissolution is issued.

Here are some factors which can affect the length of a divorce

divorcingIs the Divorce Contested or Uncontested?

In Missouri, a divorce can either be contested or uncontested. When a divorce is contested, it means that the couple is unable to reach an agreement on one or more of the following issues:

  • Child support
  • Custody or visitation
  • Alimony or spousal maintenance
  • Division of assets
  • Allocation of debts

This type of divorce doesn’t just take longer, it can also get very expensive. Many high-asset divorces require the expertise of evaluators or forensic accountants to assess and untangle the couple’s financial information. A guardian ad litem may also be appointed by the court in cases where custody can’t easily be settled.

How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take in Missouri?

An uncontested divorce is one where both of the parties agree on all issues before the divorce petition is filed. They do this by talking to each other directly or working with a therapist, mediator, or lawyer.

If there’s a critical issue (such as child custody arrangement) where the couple isn’t in total agreement, the case is considered as a contested divorce. It will then proceed to trial.

Generally, uncontested divorces are preferred by couples who are looking to divorce quickly. In Missouri, there are two ways to obtain an uncontested divorce decree:

  • Default proceeding: A petition for divorce is filed by one party. The other party (referred to as the respondent) has 20 to 30 days to file their answer. The respondent may choose not to file an answer if both parties have previously discussed and settled the terms of their divorce. If the respondent files an answer that agrees to all the terms set in the petition, the couple will need to wait 30 days before a divorce order can be signed and issued.
  • Joint Petition: Both spouses can file a petition for divorce together. This will directly proceed to final hearing before the judge. If the terms of the petition are clear to both parties and advantageous to the interests of their children, the judge will approve it.

Although it’s the faster, cheaper, and less stressful option, one significant disadvantage of an uncontested divorce is that, in most cases, only one party is represented by a lawyer. This means that the terms of the petition or joint petition may be disadvantageous to one of the spouses.

separatingIs a Hearing Required for a Missouri Divorce?

Some issues may require the attention of the court before a judgment can be issued. These include:

  • Urgent financial concerns
  • Discovery disputes
  • Allegations of abuse

These issues will delay the progress of the case and the parties’ lawyers may need to take more time to negotiate and reach an agreement.

What’s the Level of Conflict?

The desire for conflict on the side of either party will have a significant influence on the duration of the divorce process. The very nature of this legal proceeding means that emotions can run high. One or both parties may be unwilling to talk or come to an agreement.

Does the Court Have a Heavy Caseload?

The number of cases currently pending before the court can also affect the length of the process. If the court’s caseload is very heavy or if the judge has limited availability, the divorce may take longer to get finalized.

Hire an Experienced Missouri Divorce Lawyer

Getting a divorce affects your emotions, finances, family, and friends. If you’re thinking about filing for a divorce, make sure that you have an experienced Missouri divorce lawyer by your side. They can help make sure that the case goes smoothly and quickly.

If you have any other questions about how long Missouri divorces take, contact Shea Kohl Law, LC today at (636) 946-9999 for a consultation. We can help.

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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.