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Getting an Uncontested Divorce in Missouri: 5 Tips

Getting a divorce can be complicated, but seeking an “uncontested” divorce in Missouri can keep things as simple as possible. These tips for seeking an uncontested divorce will help you understand the requirements, costs, timeline and how to file.

1. Make Sure You Qualify for an Uncontested Divorce

There are a few conditions you must meet before having your uncontested divorce granted. To minimize delays, make sure you meet these conditions before filing your paperwork.

Uncontested Divorce Definition

An uncontested divorce, or “dissolution of marriage,” as it’s known in Missouri, simply means you and your spouse agree on what happens when you divorce, including property division and child custody arrangements, if applicable. If you disagree on any issues that require the court to get involved, you have a contested divorce instead.

Irretrievably Broken Requirement

In a petition for dissolution of marriage in Missouri, you must allege your marriage is “irretrievably broken,” meaning there is no “reasonable likelihood” it can be saved. If instead you don’t think your marriage is irretrievably broken and there is some chance of saving it, you can still file for a legal separation, which functions like a divorce in regard to finances and child custody but does not legally sever the marriage. You may, for example, stay on your spouse’s health insurance in a legal separation.

Residency Requirement

The other requirement is that at least one spouse must have lived in Missouri for 90 days prior to filing for divorce.

Legal Representation Requirement

There is no requirement for an attorney to get an uncontested divorce in Missouri; however, you may consult with one prior to separation to know what you’re entitled to. Additionally, Missouri courts require you to attend an online class if you’re representing yourself in court, including in an uncontested divorce.

2. Know the Costs of Divorce in Missouri

In an uncontested divorce in Missouri, cost can be prohibitive for some people. Even if you do everything yourself, there are filing fees associated with the divorce petition and response. For example, Cole County’s filing fee is $137.00 for dissolution of marriage. Contact the circuit clerk in the county where you live to find out how much filing fees are.

If you can’t afford the filing fees, you can file a motion and affidavit to proceed as indigent, which includes disclosures about your income. The judge will decide whether you qualify for a fee waiver.

If you’re looking to save on costs, check online for family law clinics or legal services near you. Mid-Missouri Legal Services provides an uncontested divorce clinic in which volunteer lawyers and law students help you file paperwork for free if you qualify.

3. Be Aware of the Timeline

Uncontested divorces are typically faster than contested cases, but they still take time. Missouri has a waiting period of 30 days after filing before divorce can be granted. On top of that, failing to file any of the required forms will slow down the process. To save time, consult an attorney or have an online service file for you.

4.Know the Process

Missouri’s uncontested divorce process consists of one spouse, the “petitioner,” filing a petition for dissolution of marriage. The other spouse, the “respondent,” then files an answer. Finally, the judge issues a grant, denial or request for more information. It may not matter who the petitioner and respondent are in an uncontested divorce since the spouses have agreed on everything.

Petition

Check with the circuit clerk for a template of the petition. Your petition for dissolution should contain certain information, including:

  • Residence of each spouse (including county and length of time at that residence)
  • Date and place of registration of marriage
  • Date of actual separation
  • Name, age and address of each child, and which parent the child has lived with for 60 days prior to the filing
  • Whether one spouse is pregnant
  • The last four digits of the Social Security number of both spouses and all children
  • Any custody, child support or alimony (known as “maintenance”) arrangements
  • The “relief sought” (ie, a dissolution of the marriage)

Along with your petition, you must have a “summons” issued to the other spouse and a notice of appearance filed with the court. If you have an attorney representing you, the attorney files the notice of appearance.

Answer

The other spouse has 30 days to file an answer or a judgment can be granted by default. You may not think filing an answer is necessary if you already agree on everything, but doing so helps your case get resolved faster. An answer must include:

  • An admission or denial of allegations in the petition
  • The last four digits of the Social Security number of both spouses and all children
  • Any custody, child support or alimony arrangements
  • The relief sought

Parenting Plan, If Applicable

Within 30 days of filing the petition for an uncontested divorce in Missouri, the spouses must file a parenting plan detailing custody arrangements and a long list of other conditions. If the parties do not file a parenting plan, the court will issue its own, which may slow things down.

Grant or Denial

Uncontested divorces in Missouri do not require a jury or trial. Once the required forms are filed, the judge will grant or deny the petition, or ask for more information.

5. Yes, You Can Get an Uncontested Divorce in Missouri Online

We can do anything online these days, including — in some states — filing an uncontested divorce. Missouri even provides its own online forms for you to fill out and file yourself. If you have technical difficulties, you can print and take them to the courthouse.

Ready to Move Forward with Your Uncontested Divorce in Missouri?

It’s always a good idea to seek legal guidance before a divorce to know your rights, obligations and what to expect during the dissolution process. A local attorney will know the ins and outs of the divorce process in your county.

Legal Disclaimer: This article contains general legal information, but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation and should not be interpreted as creating an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions, you should seek the advice of an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

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