Divorce in Missouri: everything you need to know

1 min readLast updated March 22, 2024by Unbiased team

Discover more about the process and costs associated with divorce in Missouri in this handy guide.

Summary

  • Missouri is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that one spouse can file for divorce for any reason or for no specific reason.

  • The median cost of divorce in the US is $7,000, but this can fluctuate depending on your unique circumstances.

  • To file for divorce in Missouri, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least 90 days before filing.

  • A financial advisor can help you navigate your finances during a divorce and rebuild afterward.

What are the different types of divorce in Missouri?

Missouri is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that one spouse can file for divorce for any reason or for no specific reason.

Need help rebuilding your finances after divorce?

A financial advisor can guide you through your financial recovery both during and after your divorce.

There are two main types of divorce to file for in Missouri: contested and uncontested.

  • A contested divorce occurs when the spouses disagree on one or more issues related to the divorce, such as the grounds for divorce, the division of property, the amount of alimony, the custody of the children, or the amount of child support. A contested divorce usually requires a trial, during which the judge will decide these issues after hearing evidence and arguments from both sides.

  • An uncontested divorce is when the spouses agree on all the issues related to the divorce or when one spouse does not respond to the divorce petition filed by the other spouse. An uncontested divorce usually does not require a trial and can be finalized more quickly and cheaply than a contested divorce.

How much does a divorce cost in Missouri?

The cost of a divorce in Missouri depends on several factors, such as the type of divorce, the county where the divorce is filed, the number and nature of the issues involved, the need for legal representation, and the need for expert services. However, some of the common costs that may be incurred in a divorce are:

  • Filing fees: The court charges fees for filing and processing the divorce papers. The filing fees vary by county, but they typically range from $100 to $200, with the average being $163.

  • Service fees: These are the fees that you pay to have the divorce papers served on your spouse. The service fees vary depending on the method of service, but they typically range from $20 to $100.

  • Attorney fees: These are the fees you pay to hire a lawyer to represent you in your divorce. The fees vary depending on the lawyer’s experience, reputation, location, and hourly rate, as well as the complexity and duration of your case. They can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars or more. You may be able to get free or low-cost legal assistance if you qualify for legal aid or pro bono services.

  • Expert fees: These are the fees that you pay to hire experts, such as appraisers, accountants, financial planners, psychologists, or mediators, to assist you in your divorce. The expert fees vary depending on the type and qualifications of the expert, as well as the scope and length of their services.

How do you file for divorce in Missouri?

The steps to file for divorce in Missouri vary depending on the type of divorce you are seeking. However, the general process is as follows:

  1. Determine your eligibility: To file for divorce in Missouri, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least 90 days before filing. You must also have a valid reason or ground for divorce, which can be either no-fault or fault-based.

  2. Prepare and file the divorce papers: The spouse who initiates the divorce is called the petitioner, and the spouse who responds to the divorce is called the respondent. The petitioner must prepare and file a document called a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, which states the basic information about the marriage, the grounds for divorce, and the relief requested, such as property division, alimony, child custody, and child support. This must be filed in the circuit court of the county where either spouse lives.

  3. Wait for the respondent’s answer: The respondent has 30 days to file an answer to the divorce petition, which states whether they agree or disagree with the petitioner’s claims and requests. The respondent may also file a counter-petition, which states their own claims and requests.

  4. Negotiate a settlement or go to trial: If the spouses agree on all the issues related to the divorce, they can sign a written agreement called a Marital Settlement Agreement, which outlines the terms of their divorce, such as property division, alimony, child custody, and child support. If the spouses do not agree on all the issues related to the divorce, they may try to resolve their differences through mediation, arbitration, or collaborative divorce. If the spouses still cannot reach an agreement, they must go to trial.

  5. Finalize the divorce: The divorce is not final until the Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage is signed by the judge and entered by the court clerk. In Missouri, there is a mandatory waiting period of 30 days after the filing of the divorce petition before the divorce can be finalized.

How do you split assets in a divorce in Missouri?

Missouri is an equitable distribution state, which means that the court will divide the marital property fairly and reasonably, but not necessarily equally.

Marital property includes all assets and debts acquired during the marriage, regardless of whose name they are in. This may include real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, retirement accounts, stocks, bonds, businesses, furniture, jewelry, and more.

Separate property, which is not subject to division, includes assets and debts acquired before the marriage, by inheritance, or by gift from a third party.

How does alimony work in Missouri?

The court may award alimony to either spouse, depending on the needs and abilities of each party.

The court will consider various factors, such as:

  • The income and expenses of each spouse

  • The health and earning capacity of each spouse

  • The needs and obligations of each spouse

  • The length and quality of the marriage

  • The presence or absence of minor children in the home

  • The tax consequences of alimony for both parties

  • The fault or misconduct of either party

  • Any other relevant factors

There are three types of alimony in Missouri:

  • Periodic alimony: This is the most common type of alimony, which is paid on a regular basis for an indefinite period. The amount and frequency of the payments may be modified or terminated by the court upon a material change of circumstances, such as remarriage, cohabitation, retirement, or death.

  • Lump sum alimony: This is a type of alimony that is paid in a single payment or in installments to compensate the recipient spouse for the loss of marital rights or property. The amount is fixed and cannot be modified or terminated by the court.

  • Rehabilitative alimony: This is a type of alimony that is paid for a limited period to help the recipient spouse become self-supporting. The court determines the duration and amount of the payments based on the recipient spouse’s education, training, or employment goals.

What happens to children during a divorce in Missouri?

If you have children under the age of 21, you will need to address the issues of child custody and child support in your divorce.

  • Child custody

Child custody refers to the legal and physical rights and responsibilities of each parent regarding the care and upbringing of the children.

  • Child support

The amount of child support is determined by the Missouri Child Support Guidelines, which are based on the income of both parents, the number of children, the custody arrangement, the health insurance costs, the child care costs, and any other relevant expenses.

How can I protect my finances when going through a divorce in Missouri?

Going through a divorce can be a stressful and challenging time, especially when it comes to finances.

You may have many questions and concerns about how to protect your assets, manage your debts, and plan for your future.

Here are some ways you can protect your money when going through a divorce:

  • Organize your finances: Before filing for divorce, gather all relevant financial information and documents, such as tax returns, bank statements, credit card bills, and retirement accounts. Make a list of all assets and liabilities, both marital and non-marital. This will help you and your spouse negotiate a fair distribution of property and debts.

  • Consider mediation: Mediation is a process where you and your spouse work with a neutral third party to resolve issues related to your divorce, such as property division, alimony, child custody, and child support. Mediation can be less time-consuming, less expensive, and less stressful than going to court. It can also help you maintain a cooperative relationship with your spouse after the divorce.

  • Think about Social Security: If you have been married for at least 10 years, you may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record. This can provide valuable income during retirement, especially if your ex-spouse earned more than you. However, certain criteria must be met to qualify for this benefit.

  • Seek professional help: Divorce can significantly impact your financial situation. Consider consulting with a financial advisor specializing in divorce to help you navigate these changes and plan for your future.

Get expert financial advice

A financial advisor can help you assess your current financial status, create a post-divorce budget, and develop a long-term financial plan that aligns with your needs and goals.

Unbiased can connect you with a financial advisor perfectly suited to meet your needs. Simply provide some details about what you’re looking for, and Unbiased’s platform will match you with your advisor.

Find your financial advisor with Unbiased today.

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Unbiased team

Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing and retirement, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.

Need help rebuilding your finances after divorce?

A financial advisor can guide you through your financial recovery both during and after your divorce.