If your spouse does not want a divorce and denies that the marriage is irretrievably broken, you may still obtain a divorce. You will need to show one of the following:. If the court does not find that the marriage is irretrievably broken and grants a legal separation, then either party can file a Motion to Convert the legal separation judgment of legal separation into a divorce judgment of dissolution no earlier than 90 days from the date that the judgment of legal separation was entered by the court. It is certainly in your best interest to hire an experienced divorce attorney to make sure that your rights are asserted and your assets are protected in the long-term.
One of the issues that can affect the cost of a divorce is whether you and your spouse are agreeable to issues concerning the custody of your children, child support, maintenance, and the division of the property. You will be at a significant disadvantage. You will not be given any special treatment or assistance in the courtroom. There is no legal requirement that you hire an attorney. It is strongly recommended that you hire an experienced divorce attorney to represent you. If you choose to represent yourself, you will certainly be at a disadvantage in settlement negotiations and in the courtroom.
If you have children or if you have significant earnings or assets, you should consult with an attorney to make sure that your interests are protected.
The Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce in Missouri
There is no pre-determined formula to determine the amount or length of maintenance. The court will consider relevant factors including the length of the marriage, the financial resources of the parties, the conduct of the parties during the marriage and the ability of the other spouse to meet their own needs.
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Maintenance is not awarded to punish a guilty spouse but rather is to lessen the financial impact of divorce on the other spouse. If the parties decide to settle without a trial, they can settle on a term of maintenance — a specific dollar amount with a specific date that it stops. Maintenance will terminate if either spouse dies or if the party receiving maintenance remarries. A spouse has the option to have her former or maiden name restored to her as part of the divorce. An annulment is a decision by the court that the marriage was not legal from the beginning.
Annulments are granted only in limited and unusual situations. Annulments may be granted for marriages that are between persons who are related to each other, between persons who lack the mental capacity to enter into a contract, between persons of the same sex, or where one spouse was still legally married to another person. You must be a resident of Missouri for at least 90 days before you can file for divorce.
A divorce must be pending for a minimum of 30 days after it is filed before a divorce can be granted. How long a divorce case will last depends on the specific facts and circumstances of your case. If there are significant issues upon which you and your spouse cannot agree to resolve, those issues will have to be resolved by a judge. The judge will schedule pretrial settlement conferences to determine the status of the case. If there is a good reason to delay the case, the judge has the discretion to do so. Otherwise, the judge will likely set a trial date.
If there are any unresolved issues on the trial date, the parties will be allowed to present their evidence and make their arguments, and the judge will decide the remaining issues. If you are not able to serve your spouse with the divorce paperwork, you may still obtain a divorce by publication. A public legal notice announcing your filing of the divorce will be placed in a legal newspaper for at least 30 days. It is important to know that unless your spouse is personally served, the court cannot decide custody of the children, child support, or divide marital property.
The court can only dissolve the marriage. A spouse can date at any time after a party has filed for divorce, but it is not something that an attorney would advise their client to do.
Uncontested VS Contested Divorce in Missouri
It is always better for your case if neither party dates during while the divorce case progresses. However, a person that is married may not remarry until after the court enters an order dissolving the marriage. In order for the court to grant a divorce, you must live in Missouri for at least 90 days immediately before the filing of the divorce.
In addition, you must wait at least 30 days after you file before the court can grant you a divorce. There is no legal requirement that you continue to live in Missouri after you file for divorce. You should understand that you would need to remain involved your case and you may need to make court appearances. After your divorce is granted, if you wish to move with your children to another state, you will have to give written notice to your former spouse.
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You or your spouse may file a divorce at any time. However, the case can be stayed for a brief period of time while you are in active duty. This means that the court will put the case on hold and not take any action on issues of child custody, support, maintenance or alimony , or division of property. When you file your petition for dissolution, a copy will be delivered to the sheriff or a process server if you request. Either the sheriff or process server will serve the petition on your spouse, and will make a report to the court that he served the petition.
You will have to wait a minimum of 30 days after you file your petition before the court can grant a divorce. If you and your spouse do not agree on all of the issues in your case, you will have to go to court to have the judge decide those matters. There will be opportunities for a partial or complete resolution to settle all of the issues in your case without formal court proceedings. These may include mediation, informal negotiations, and settlement conferences in court, all of which require your appearance.
Legal Separation would cover the same issues as those covered during a divorce such as child custody determinations, division of property, and child support or spousal maintenance payments. In order for the court to approve a legal separation, the following conditions apply:. An annulment is a way of ending a marriage by stating that it never existed. A civil annulment is an entirely separate matter than a religious annulment. A civil annulment voids the marriage completely. Situations that can lead to an annulment include:. An annulment will negate the payment of spousal maintenance or alimony, but not the need for child support.
If you and your partner had a child together when you were married, and your marriage was annulled afterward, both parents are still financially responsible for the child or children and child support payments may be required. There are a variety of ADR methods available in divorce courts throughout the U. In Missouri, the ADR method that is recommended is mediation.
During mediation a neutral third party will work with both husband and wife to reach mutually agreed upon decisions regarding child custody, division of property and other matters. The mediator helps the couple communicate and does not take sides. On occasion, a judge will order a couple into mediation if the couple is having a particularly difficult time with a contentious issue.
Consulting a lawyer may be the only way to ensure that you are receiving a fair settlement.
It is preferred that the parents agree on a child custody arrangement that the court will then approve, however, if they cannot decide then the court will make the determination. Gone are the days when the children automatically went into the physical custody of the mother.
Today, joint or shared custody is preferred. The types of child custody options in Missouri include:. It states that the parenting plan should include provisions regarding:. Both parents are considered responsible for support of their children. The financial amount each one is responsible for will depend upon several factors, including how many children exist from the marriage, the gross income of each parent, and whether or not one of the parents has sole physical custody.
Although the state provides a formula to determine child support, an accurate estimate of what a spouse may receive or be required to pay is difficult to determine without the assistance of an attorney. Once a child support amount has been determined, the court can enforce this payment.
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The spouse who has not received the child support payments can go to the court and ask for child support enforcement. Enforcement measures include wage garnishment, withholding of federal income tax refunds, ordering employers to enroll children in health care coverage plans and other measures. Either parent can request a termination of child support, although withholding child support payments is not permitted.
A custodial parent is not allowed to withhold visitation as a consequence of child support payments not being made. Likewise, a noncustodial parent is not allowed to withhold child support payments if visitation privileges are being denied.
These issues must be handled through the court system and the advice of an attorney is recommended. Occasionally, paternity will need to be established prior to requesting either child support payments or visitation rights. An involuntary paternity can be ordered by the court and accomplished by DNA testing via a simple mouth swab.
A voluntary paternity determination can be made if both parents sign a voluntary acknowledgement. Paternity is automatically determined if the parents are married when the child is born, or if the child is born within days of separation, divorce, annulment or death of the father.
The state of Missouri is considered an equitable property state in terms of the division of marital property. This means that the assets and debts acquired during a marriage are divided in a way that the court determines is fair. This is not necessarily equal.