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Missouri Divorce Process
Preparing the Divorce Papers
The petitioner completes the Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage and the Confidential Case Filing Information Sheet, the legal paperwork that initiates the divorce. The names of any children who are under 18 years of age and still in high school, or children who are in college full time and under 21 years old must be included so the court may make orders regarding their financial support and custody.
Filing the Paperwork with the Court
Once the petition and the information sheet are completed, the petitioner files the paperwork in the Circuit Court for his or her county.
At the time of filing, the petitioner must either pay a filing fee to the court or request a fee waiver if he or she cannot afford the filing fee.
Serving the Documents
Service on the respondent can be accomplished a few different ways.
If the respondent does not want to be served directly, he or she may complete an Answer. As part of this, the respondent is acknowledging that he or she has received a copy of the petition and that the court has authority over the case.
The Answer can also be used to file the respondent’s official response to the divorce petition. The respondent states whether he or she agrees with or disputes any of the petitioner’s statements or allegations.
Disclosing Financial Information
Both spouses complete a Statement of Income and Expenses, which is used by the court if the action involves alimony or child support.
Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce
If one spouse does not want the divorce and denies that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the divorce is contested. An unhappy spouse may still obtain a divorce, in that case, by demonstrating one of a number of fault grounds, such as adultery or abandonment.
When the opposing party files an Answer and/or Answer and Counter-Petition, the case moves through the court system in a normal manner, and it is difficult to forecast how long it will take the court to grant the divorce.
When divorcing spouses work together, ending a marriage is much easier.
Finalizing the Divorce
At least 30 days must elapse before the court can grant a divorce. The opposing party has 30 days to file an Answer to the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and/or Answer to the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and Counter-Petition for Dissolution of Marriage after being served.
How long a divorce case will last depends on the specific facts and circumstances of the case. The court decides unresolved issues when the spouses cannot or will not.
Attorneys must gather and exchange all of the information concerning the children’s best interests, as well as information about assets and liabilities.
The judge schedules pretrial settlement conferences to determine the status of the case. The judge has the discretion to postpone a case. Otherwise, the judge sets a trial date. If there are any unresolved issues on the trial date, the parties present their evidence and make arguments, and the judge decides the remaining issues.
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