To begin a divorce proceeding in Missouri, one spouse must have been a Missouri resident for at least 90 days. If you and your spouse have children together, your kids must have lived in Missouri for at least six months before you can file for divorce. (In Missouri, a divorce is also known as a dissolution.)
To begin Missouri divorce proceedings, one spouse must file a petition of dissolution of marriage with the appropriate Missouri Circuit Court. The petition is filed with the circuit court in the county where you live or where your spouse lives.
Grounds for Divorce in Missouri
Missouri divorce law allows for both spouses to file a joint petition claiming the marriage is irretrievably broken. If one spouse disagrees with the divorce, the other spouse must prove the marriage is irretrievably broken. Permissible grounds, or reasons, that can be used in Missouri to prove the marriage is broken include:
- Adultery by the other spouse
- Intolerable behavior
- Abandonment by the other spouse for at least six months
- Voluntary separation for at least 12 months
- Separation for at least 24 months
Your Missouri divorce attorney can help ensure you meet the legal requirements to file for a divorce in Missouri.
Missouri Property Division & Spousal Maintenance
In Missouri, all property not classified as “separate” is considered "marital property" and will be divided "equitably" (but not necessarily equally). Separate property includes property acquired before the marriage and property obtained during the marriage via gift or inheritance to strictly one spouse.
Under certain conditions, the court will order alimony (also known as maintenance in Missouri) to be paid from one spouse to the other. The length and amount of support awarded depends on several factors, including the length of the marriage and each spouse's financial situation and earning capacity.
Your Missouri divorce lawyer can help negotiate a fair division of property and alimony agreement, if necessary.
Missouri Child Custody & Child Support
The law requires Missouri courts to make child custody decisions based on what is in the best interests of the child. Missouri family courts will consider joint custody if it is in the best interests of the child. Generally, a parent who is not awarded custody is granted visitation rights.
In Missouri, child support is calculated based on the combined incomes of both parents and the child's needs (including the cost of health insurance, child care and the standard of living the child enjoyed prior to the divorce). After the court has ruled on child support, the paying parent can make online payments through the Missouri Family Support Payment Center Internet Payment Website. The child support is then paid to the other parent.
Additional Missouri Divorce Resources
Lawyers.com's information about divorce in Missouri
Missouri Bar Association divorce information
Frequently asked questions about representing yourself in Missouri family courts
Information about paternity in Missouri
Missouri child support calculation worksheet