Demystifying the Divorce Process in Missouri
Divorce can be complicated, but with the right attorney, it doesn’t have to be. At Masterson Law, we can help demystify the divorce process in Missouri.
Basics of the Divorce Process in Missouri
The divorce process in Missouri is initiated when a married couple decides they want to go their separate ways. They must divide property, decide on child support and custody, if applicable, and figure out if they can agree on how they will be divorced.
This sounds simpler than it is. Sometimes, the only solution is to go through the legal system and let a judge decide. However, a skilled Missouri family law attorney like those at Masterson Law, LLC can help prevent this by serving as a mediator and an advocate for the rights and responsibilities of all involved parties.
Steps in Divorce Process
Most states call the legal process of ending a marriage divorce, but Missouri refers to it as dissolution of marriage. During a dissolution, all marital ties will be dissolved.
In short, the steps in the Missouri divorce process are as follows:
- Decide if you will need the assistance of a Missouri attorney who is knowledgeable when it comes to family law.
- Determine the court in which you plan to file for divorce in accordance with your county of residence.
- Fill out and file the document Petition for Dissolution.
- Fill out and file your parenting plan under the document Family and Parenting.
- Tell the court you intend to get a divorce from your spouse.
Divorce is a difficult situation for all, especially if children are involved. It does not matter how bad the relationship was – it does not make it easier. However, the divorce process does not have to be a long, drawn-out battle. The complexity of a divorce depends on the issues the couple is willing to compromise on as well as the level of involvement from a skilled divorce lawyer.
Beginning the Missouri Divorce Process
Before filing any paperwork, you should make sure you are in the right place. In Missouri, there are courts that specifically deal with dissolutions and child custody. You will need to file your paperwork with the family court division of the circuit court in the county in which you reside to formally begin the Missouri divorce process.
How to Start Divorce Process in Missouri
The state of Missouri encourages those looking at divorce to go to alternative dispute resolution (ADR) sessions, especially when there are questions about visitation and custody. Unless one spouse is a danger to another, a judge will require ADR before setting a court date.
Often, couples can agree on their own or after discussion with a mediator. In the event that a couple agrees when it comes to their specific case, they can avoid going to court and instead work directly with an attorney like Summer Masterson-Goethals to complete the divorce process and compose a written agreement.
Upon completion, a judge will look at the agreement to determine if it is fair and if the custody and child support plan is in the best interest of the child or children. You will want to keep in mind that the conduct of the parties during the marriage and in their court appearances may play a role in the court’s decision regarding delicate matters like child custody. However, joint legal custody and physical custody are generally preferred if it is clear that such an arrangement will be in the children’s best interests.
If you want to pursue a dissolution of marriage, you must first complete a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage form with your name and your spouse’s name, marriage location, and any other pertinent information. Additionally, you may need to file a Family Court Information Sheet and pay any filing fees. The court will then summon the other spouse and let them know that dissolution is beginning. If minor children are involved, both parents will need to file parenting plans and decide how to handle child support, if applicable.
It’s a wise choice to hire an attorney, but they should practice in your county so they are familiar with local divorce laws. They will also know when to file all the necessary documents. Located at the heart of Greene County, Masterson Law stands among the top divorce lawyers in Missouri, and we can help you navigate each step of the divorce process with ease.
Average Length of Divorce Process
In Missouri, a no-fault divorce is the default, so the court may decide that there are grounds for divorce as long as either party believes that the marriage is irretrievably broken. This means that the couple cannot reconcile and that no one person is to blame. These cases are quicker and cheaper to complete because nobody will need to prove fault. In fact, Missouri law does not even allow divorces based on fault.
A divorce in Missouri can be completed in a minimum of 30 days. However, it can sometimes take a year or longer to get divorced. How long it takes depends on the individual situation, how much the couple agrees or disagrees, if minor children or large or numerous assets are involved, and other relevant factors.
Estimated Cost Divorce Process in Missouri
Unsurprisingly, in order to get a dissolution of marriage in the state of Missouri, you must meet all residency requirements. Namely, you must be a resident of the state. To establish residency, one or both parties must have lived there for at least 90 days, or three continuous months, before any paperwork can be filed. If you file anyway with no regard to residency, the judges will not take your case.
If you are a Missouri resident, you should file for dissolution in your county of residence. The filing spouse is responsible for serving the petition to the other spouse, known as the respondent. When the respondent is served, they must submit their answer in writing, which should respond to everything in the petition. They have 30 days to complete this.
If the couple is amicable and agrees on how to handle the dissolution and custody, they could potentially spend as little as $1,000, which would cover attorney fees, filing costs, sheriff costs, and divorce papers. This is known as an uncontested divorce, which allows the couple to come up with solutions when it comes to divorce, support, the house, child support, child custody and visitation, and marital property division.
Unfortunately, a large number of divorces are contested, bringing the average divorce cost in Missouri to $13,500. This covers the cost of filing fees, attorney fees, paralegal costs, document fees, and more. However, it’s important to note that hiring the right divorce attorney can improve your chances of an affordable divorce process. At Masterson Law, we combine affordable representation with reliable mediation and divorce services that can help expedite the divorce process to make your marriage’s dissolution as simple and cost-effective as possible.
Simple Divorce Process
An uncontested divorce is the simplest type of dissolution of marriage – you do not even have to have the help of a divorce attorney. If you choose to pursue an uncontested divorce on your own, this is known as appearing pro se.
You will have to follow Missouri’s strict guidelines and fill out the proper forms if you wish to divorce on your own. You can find all of Missouri’s documents here. Using these documents means that you and your spouse agree on everything from child custody to the division of assets and financial resources, so you will want to be completely certain about your areas of agreement before choosing to represent yourself.
However, while you do not always need an attorney, consulting one may be wise. When you book a free consultation with Masterson Law’s top-rated divorce attorneys, we’ll evaluate your situation from every angle and help you determine your best course of action moving forward. If it’s clear that your divorce can be completed without comprehensive legal assistance, we’ll empower you with the information and resources you’ll need moving forward, and if you choose to work with our attorneys, we’ll work hard to make the divorce process as simple as possible for you. Contact us today to get started!