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How to File for Divorce in St Charles County MO
Divorces are typically emotionally taxing for all family members.
Disputes often arise over topics like property division, alimony, child custody, and child support. Some couples may be able to come to a resolution on their own, but for others, disputes may be unavoidable.
For couples who are planning to get a divorce, proper preparation is crucial to ensure that everything goes smoothly and to minimize the impact a divorce can have on their future, finances, and the well being of their families.
A Shea Kohl divorce lawyer can help you find peace of mind during this difficult time.
Valid Grounds for Divorce
In St Charles County, Missouri, a couple who wishes to file for divorce needs to provide a valid reason. Missouri is a no-fault divorce state, which means that either spouse can file for divorce and the court won’t regard them as the party to blame for the failure of their marriage.
However, even though one party can file a divorce petition, the other party (referred to as the respondent) can contest the no-fault grounds or refuse to part amicably.
Section 452.320 of the Missouri Revised Statutes requires the petitioner to prove the following allegations, if they’re indicated on the petition as the reason for the divorce:
- The respondent had no plans to live with the petitioner
- The respondent and petitioner have not been cohabiting, by mutual agreement, for at least 12 months before the divorce petition was filed
- The respondent and petitioner have been living separately, without mutual agreement, for at least 24 months before the divorce petition was filed
- The respondent committed adultery
- The respondent abandoned and made no contact with the petitioner for at least 6 months
Contested and Uncontested Divorce
Divorce proceedings in St Charles County MO typically fall under two categories: contested and uncontested.
Here are the main differences between the two:
- Contested Divorce: In a contested divorce, parties are unable to agree on certain issues like child support and custody, spousal maintenance, asset and debt division, among others. These issues are then settled by a judge in court.
- Uncontested Divorce: In this type of divorce, the couple agrees on most of the issues before they file the petition. Uncontested divorces are generally finalized more quickly than contested ones. They also often don’t proceed to trial.
- Filing for Divorce in St Charles County MOBefore the spouses can file for divorce in Missouri, either party must be a resident of the state for at least 90 days. Once the couple meets the residency requirements, they can start the process by filing the petition with the county circuit court.
Here’s a step-by-step guide for uncontested divorces:
1. The petitioner has to fill out and file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This petition includes the following information:
- Names and ages of the spouses and their children
- Date of marriage and separation
- Statement that the state residency requirement has been met
- Other crucial information involving the custody and primary care of minor children
2. Submit other required documents with the petition form. Include any agreements made between the spouses on issues concerning property division, debt allocation, visitation, and support.
3. Pay for the court filing fees. The petitioner will then choose whether the divorce papers will be served by the county sheriff or a private process server. If the respondent cannot be found right away, the court may allow the petitioner to publish a notice in the local newspaper.
4. After the respondent is notified of the case, they have to file a response to acknowledge receipt of the petition within 30 days. If the spouses filed a joint-petition, they have to wait for the mandatory 30-day period before the divorce can be finalized.
5. Once the waiting period is over, a brief court hearing shall be held. Once all the documents are found to be in order, the judge will sign the Decree of Dissolution.
Hiring a Divorce Lawyer
In theory, anyone can file for a divorce without the help of an attorney. However, for contested divorces, it’s highly recommended to retain the services of a skilled and experienced lawyer. A divorce lawyer can protect their client’s interests and ensure that the process goes smoothly.
Just remember that it’s not practical or ethical to only have one lawyer for both spouses. A lawyer should represent one party exclusively.
Divorce Lawyers in St Charles County MO
If your divorce cannot be settled through a sit-down discussion or mediation, or if you’re just worried that you may not be filing the right documents, consult a family law attorney.
At Shea Kohl Law, LC, we’re ready to take the case to trial to safeguard your rights and interests.
Contact us at (636) 946-9999 to get started.
Call Shea Kohl Law, LC at (636) 946-9999
or contact us online to schedule your initial consultation.
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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.