To be eligible to file for divorce in Missouri, one party must be a resident of the state or a member of the armed services stationed in the state for 90 days immediately preceding the commencement of the proceeding.
If at least one of the parties meets the eligibility requirement, then the action may be filed in the county in which the Petitioner (the party filing for divorce) resides or the county in which the Respondent resides.
If the action is filed in the county where the Petitioner resides, the Respondent may file a motion to transfer to the county in which he or she resides if this county has been the county in which the child(ren) has resided during the 90 days immediately preceding the commencement of the proceeding; or, in the alternative, if it is in the best interests of the child(ren).
Because Missouri is a “no-fault” state, marital misconduct is not taken into consideration in determining whether a divorce should be granted. However, marital misconduct may come into play when the court determines the division of property.
The court’s final determination of how to divide the parties’ marital property may be disproportionate based on the actions of one or both of the parties during the marriage, including but not limited to dissipation of marital assets, improperly increasing marital debt, and extramarital affairs/marital misconduct.
The court will enter a judgment of dissolution if the court finds that there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved and thus is irretrievably broken.
If the court finds that there remains a reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved and is therefore not irretrievably broken, then the court will enter a judgment of legal separation. A judgment of legal separation can be converted into a judgment of dissolution after 90 days on motion of either party.
Missouri Divorce Agreements
When parties are able to resolve their matter outside of trial, a judgment must be submitted to the court, along with an agreement that sets forth: how the parties are dividing their property and debts; each party’s responsibilities; provisions regarding child custody and support; and provisions regarding maintenance.
Additional provisions may address tax issues, attorney’s fees, right to discovery and trial. The settlement agreement should be signed by each party as well as the respective attorneys.
The terms of the agreement will be found to be binding upon the parties unless the court finds the agreement to be unconscionable.
In most cases, the terms of the settlement agreement will be non-modifiable except for the provisions regarding child support and custody, and maintenance, if a modifiable award, unless the parties agree in writing to modify their agreement.
Missouri Divorce Lawyer
The importance of having a Missouri divorce lawyer cannot be emphasized enough. The procedures in the family division of the circuit court may seem simple and children-oriented, but they are complicated. The mistakes made can have lasting, non-modifiable consequences.