Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Missouri Divorce Laws

Missouri Divorce Laws

Residency Requirements for Divorce in Missouri
One of the spouses must be a resident of Missouri for 90 days before filing for dissolution of marriage. The dissolution of marriage should be filed in the county where the Petitioner resides. In addition, there is a 30-day waiting period after filing before a dissolution of marriage will be granted.
[Annotated Missouri Statutes; Title 30, Chapter 452, Sections 300 and 305].

Legal Grounds for Divorce in Missouri

1. No Fault Divorce: Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved.
[Annotated Missouri Statutes; Title 30, Chapter 452, Section 305].
2. General Divorce: Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage with no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved is the only grounds for dissolution of marriage in Missouri.
[Annotated Missouri Statutes; Title 30, Chapter 452, Section 305].

Legal Separation in Missouri
The grounds for legal separation in Missouri are an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, which may include the following factors:

1. Adultery
2. Abandonment
3. Separation caused by misconduct in the 12 months before filing the petition
4. Spousal behavior that the other spouse cannot reasonably be expected to live with
5. Living separate and apart continuously for 24 months

One of the spouses must be a resident of Missouri for 90 days before filing for legal separation.
[Annotated Missouri Statutes; Title 30, Chapter 452, Sections 305 and 320].

Simplified/Special Divorce Procedures in Missouri

Missouri allows for a joint petition by both spouses to be filed. In such cases, each spouse should be titled as a "Co-Petitioner." Settlement agreements are expressly authorized by statute in Missouri. In addition, some counties have approved pre-printed forms for filing for dissolution of marriage which are available upon request from the court clerk.
[Annotated Missouri Statutes; Title 30, Chapter 452, Sections 320 and 325].

Divorce Mediation or Counseling Requirements
The court can delay a divorce proceeding for 30 to 180 days and suggest that the spouses seek counseling.
[Annotated Missouri Statutes; Title 30, Chapter 452, Section 320].

Divorce Property Distribution
Missouri is an "equitable distribution" state. Each spouse retains his or her separate property obtained prior to the marriage, including any gifts or inheritances. In addition, any property exchanged for separate property or interest obtained from holding separate property remains as separate. Commingled property does not become marital solely by virtue of the act of commingling. Marital property (all property acquired after the marriage whether held jointly or individually, except if):

1. Gift or inheritance
2. Received in exchange for non-marital property
3. An increase in non-marital property
4. Property excluded by a written agreement between the spouses

is divided after a consideration of the following factors:

1. The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of each spouse as homemaker
2. The value of each spouse's property
3. The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property is to become effective
4. The conduct of the spouses during the marriage generally and as it relates to the disposition of their property
5. The desirability of awarding the family home to the spouse having custody of the children
6. Any custodial arrangements for children

[Annotated Missouri Statutes; Title 30, Chapter 452, Section 330 and Missouri Case Law].

Alimony and Spousal Support
Either spouse may be awarded maintenance if that spouse can show:

1. An inability to support himself or herself
2. A lack of sufficient property (including his or her share of any marital property) to provide for his or her own needs
3. That the spouse seeking support is the custodian of a child whose condition or circumstances make it appropriate for that spouse not to seek outside employment

The following factors are considered:

1. The time necessary to acquire sufficient education and training to enable the spouse to find appropriate employment and that spouse's future earning capacity
2. The standard of living established during the marriage
3. The duration of the marriage
4. The ability of the spouse from whom support is sought to meet his or her needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking support
5. The financial resources of the spouse seeking maintenance, including marital property apportioned to such spouse and such spouse's ability to meet his or her needs independently
6. The age of the spouses
7. The physical and emotional conditions of the spouses
8. The obligations, assets, and separate property of the spouses
9. The comparative earning capacities of each spouse
10. The conduct of the spouses during the marriage

The court may order the payments to be made through the circuit clerk.
[Annotated Missouri Statutes; Title 30, Chapter 452, Sections 335 and 345].

Spouse's Name After Divorce
A spouse may petition the court for a change of name. A public notice of any name change should be published in a local newspaper in the county where the person resides.
[Annotated Missouri Statutes; Chapter 527, Sections 270 and 290].

Child Custody After Divorce

Joint or sole custody is awarded based on the best interests of the child and upon consideration of the following factors:

1. The preference of the child
2. The wishes of the parents and any proposed parenting plan submitted by both parents
3. The child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community
4. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved
5. Any history of child or spouse abuse
6. The child's need for a continuing relationship with both parents
7. Both parents' willingness and ability to perform parental obligations
8. The intention of either parent to relocate his or her residence
9. Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent and meaningful contact with the other parent
10. The relationship of the child with parents, siblings, and other significant family members

Domestic violence against a child is a bar to custody. No preference is to be given because of parent's sex, age, or financial status, or the child's age or sex. There is now a legislative encouragement of joint custody or arrangements which will encourage the parents to both share in the decision-making responsibility of caring for the child. An award of joint custody must include a joint custody plan. A parent not granted custody is entitled to reasonable visitation.
[Annotated Missouri Statutes; Title 30, Chapter 452, Sections 375 and 400 and Missouri Case Law].

Child Support After Divorce
Either or both parents may be ordered to provide child support. Marital misconduct is not to be considered as a factor. The following factors are considered:

1. The child's custody arrangements
2. The financial resources and needs of the child
3. The standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the marriage had not been dissolved
4. The physical and emotional conditions and educational needs of the child
5. The financial resources, needs, and obligations of both the noncustodial and the custodial parent

A parent may be required to provide health insurance coverage for any children if such coverage is available at a reasonable cost from an employer, union, or other organization. There are official child support guidelines contained in the statute which are presumed to be correct unless shown to be unjust or inappropriate under the particular circumstances of the case. The court may order the payments to be made through the circuit clerk.
[Annotated Missouri Statutes; Title 30, Chapter 452, Sections 340 and 345].

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