Missouri is a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning that there is no need to prove fault when seeking dissolution of marriage. Although this makes divorce proceedings easier, there are still difficulties. Issues concerning property division, spousal support, and parenting rights still need to be settled. Getting a divorce is stressful and it is difficult to move through the process dispassionately; hire experienced legal counsel that can expedite the process and help you to keep a level head.
Grounds for Divorce
Missouri is a modified “no-fault” divorce state; this means it is unnecessary to prove cruelty, marital misconduct, or any other “Fault,” when seeking “Dissolution of Marriage,” a divorce. The only major requirement for divorce in Missouri is that the petitioner resides in Missouri for at least 90 days before the divorce. One spouse cannot object to another’s petition for a no-fault dissolution, as that objection in and of itself is viewed by the court as an irreconcilable difference. However, spousal behavior can be a very relevant factor in determining property division and child custody issues.
If spouses share custody of a child, a parenting plan will need to be developed. This plan will outline how parenting time will be decided and how the child will be raised after the divorce is finalized. Although parents are encouraged to agree on a parenting plan, both parents can submit a separate parenting plan that will then be considered by a judge.
In Missouri, children are entitled to support from both parents until they reach the age of 18 or are emancipated. While it is assumed that custodial parents are contributing their support while caring for the child, non-custodial parents may be required to pay child support. Per Sec. 452.340.5 RSMo, children may also be entitled to support until the age of 21 if they are attending college or a vocational school.
Missouri is an “equitable distribution” state regarding “Marital Property,” with equitable meaning what is deemed fair by the courts rather than an equal split. Marital Property includes all property acquired during a marriage with the exception of gifts and assets acquired in exchange for property that was acquired before the marriage. The economic circumstances of both spouses and any purposed parenting plans will be considered when the property is divided. Parties are encouraged by the court to reach a settlement regarding property and debt prior to it being brought to the hearing, where they will be required to complete a Statement of Income and Expenses and a Statement of Assets and Debts.
Alimony and Maintenance
Alimony, also known as maintenance or spousal support, can be awarded to a spouse if it is determined that the spouse cannot maintain a living wage without being married to the other spouse. A two-part test is used to determine whether maintenance is necessary. First, the court must find that one spouse cannot maintain their living expenses on their own and second the court must find that the other spouse is financially able to provide the spousal maintenance to the first party. The amount and duration of spousal maintenance is determined based on the following factors:
- Duration of the marriage.
- Conduct of each spouse.
- Assets and debts of both spouses.
- Current income of both spouses.
- The dependent spouse’s ability to find gainful employment.
- Potential income of the dependent spouse.
- The time needed for the dependent spouse to acquire a job or the training necessary to acquire a job.
If you are seeking to revert back to your maiden name after a divorce, it is important that this is addressed during the divorce proceedings. The name reversion can be handled as a provision of the divorce; this is the easiest time to revert. After a divorce has been finalized, it can be more difficult to revert to a maiden name.
Motion to Serve by Publication or Posting
If you are seeking a divorce but cannot locate your spouse, you can initiate the divorce through a “motion to serve by publication or posting.” A judge will approve this course of action if you can demonstrate that you have made sufficient efforts to locate your spouse. Once the motion is approved, you will need to publish a notice in the newspaper.
Experienced Family Law Counsel
Chris Benjamin has handled hundreds of cases including over 100 bench trials in contested family law matters. He is known for his compassionate handling of family law matters. As a multi-year recipient of the Missouri and Kansas Super Lawyers’ “Rising Star” award for his work in family law matters, Chris has what it takes to ensure that you are treated fairly during your divorce proceedings.
Call Day or Night for a Missouri Divorce Attorney
KC Road Lawyers offers free consultations to individuals who are seeking a divorce in Missouri. Call 816-425-2420 or navigate to our contact page to find out how KC Road Lawyers can help you with your Missouri divorce.