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Missouri Divorce Laws

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Missouri Divorce Laws

RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS AND WHERE TO FILE:

To file for a divorce in Missouri, either party must be a resident of the state for at least 90 days prior to filing. The petition shall be filed in the circuit court in the county where either party resides. [Based on Missouri Revised Statutes, Section 452.240 and 452.305.1]

LEGAL GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE:

A dissolution of marriage may be granted on the grounds that there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved and that therefore the marriage is irretrievably broken. If the defendant denies that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the plaintiff must prove one or more of the following:

  • The respondent committed adultery and to continue the marriage would be intolerable;
  • The respondent has behaved in such a way that continuing the marriage would be intolerable;
  • The respondent abandoned the petitioner for at least six months prior to the filing of the petition;
  • That the parties have lived separate and apart by mutual consent for at least 12 months prior to filing;
  • That the parties have lived separate and apart for a continuous period of at least 24 months before filing.

    [Based on Missouri Revised Statutes, Section 452.305.1 and 452.320]

    LEGAL SEPARATION:

    A legal separation may be granted on the same grounds as a dissolution of marriage. In a legal separation, the court may make provisions for the custody and the support of each child, the maintenance of either spouse and the disposition of property. The parties may also reach a mutual agreement on maintenance of either spouse, the division of any property owned by either of them, and the custody, support and visitation of their children. Custody, support, and visitation of the children is subject to modification. [Based on Missouri Revised Statutes, Section 452.305.1 and 452.325.1]

    MEDIATION OR COUNSELING REQUIREMENTS:

    When children are involved, the court may order counseling for the children. The court may also order the parties to participate in mediation to resolve any issues in dispute, except in cases of uncontested custody cases or if there is a finding of domestic abuse. [Based on Missouri Revised Statutes, Section 452.318 and 452.372]

    PROPERTY DISTRIBUTION:

    Missouri is an equitable distribution state, meaning that if the parties can't reach a mutual agreement concerning the division of the marital estate, the court will distribute the property and liabilities in an equitable, but not necessarily equal fashion. The court will take the following factors into consideration when making it's decision:

    • The economic circumstances of each spouse, including the desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live therein for reasonable periods to the spouse having custody of any children.
    • The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of a spouse as homemaker.
    • The value of the non-marital property set apart to each spouse.
    • The conduct of the parties during the marriage.
    • Custodial arrangements for minor children.

    Property not subject to division is considered separate property, and includes:

    • Property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or descent.
    • Property acquired in exchange for property acquired prior to the marriage or in exchange for property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or descent.
    • Property acquired after a decree of legal separation.
    • Property excluded by valid written agreement of the parties.
    • The increase in value of property acquired prior to the marriage, unless marital assets including labor, have contributed to such increases and then only to the extent of such contributions.

    [Based on Missouri Revised Statutes, Section 452.330]

    ALIMONY/MAINTENANCE/SPOUSAL SUPPORT:

    Maintenance may be awarded to either spouse if the court finds that the spouse seeking maintenance lacks sufficient property, to provide for his or her reasonable needs, and is unable to support himself herself through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child whose condition or circumstances make it appropriate that the custodian not be required to seek employment outside the home. When awarding the duration and amount of maintenance, the court shall consider all relevant factors including:

    • The financial resources of the spouse seeking maintenance, including marital property awarded to him, and his ability to meet his needs independently, including any provisions for child support for that party as custodian;
    • The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to find appropriate employment;
    • The comparative earning capability of each spouse;
    • The standard of living established during the marriage;
    • The obligations and assets of each party;
    • The duration of the marriage;
    • The age, and the physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance;
    • The ability of the obligated spouse to meet his needs while meeting the needs of the spouse seeking maintenance;
    • The conduct of the parties during the marriage; and
    • Any other factors that the court deems relevant.

    Remarriage of the spouse receiving alimony shall relieve the other spouse from the obligation to pay alimony. [Based on Missouri Revised Statutes, Sections 452.075 and 452.335]

    SPOUSE'S NAME:

    Even though there is no specific statute that addresses changing a spouses name as part of a petition for dissolution of marriage, a person may petition the circuit court for a name change. The petition shall set forth the petitioner's full name, the new name desired, and a concise statement of the reason for such desired change. The court will grant the name change if such judge is satisfied that the desired change would be proper and not detrimental to the interests of any other person. [Based on Missouri Revised Statutes, Sections 527.270]

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