Missouri No Fault Divorce Law

By Roger Thorne
Missouri allows for
missouri outline image by Kim Jones from Fotolia.com

Like all other states, Missouri allows married couples to get divorced. Divorces can only be granted if specific conditions are met, one of which is that at least one party must state legally recognized grounds for granting the divorce. In Missouri, couples can cite a "no-fault" basis as the grounds for divorce.

Basis

Traditionally, courts could only grant a divorce if one of the parties proved that the other party had committed one of a number of legally recognized grounds, such as cruelty, adultery, abandonment or incarceration. Today, many states have replaced or supplemented these grounds with "no-fault" grounds. In Missouri, a no-fault divorce is one that is sought because there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage such that there is no reasonable chance it can be repaired. However, no specific blame is assigned to either party.

Requirements

Missouri requires that all divorces must meet the state's residency requirements. At least one of the spouses must be either a resident of Missouri or a member of the military stationed in the state for at least 90 days prior to the filing of divorce. The divorce can be filed in the county where either party lives, even if the filing party does not meet the residency requirements.

Issues

In any no-fault divorce, the court can issue orders on all matter relating to the marriage, including property settlements, spousal support, child custody and child support. When making determinations about property, Missouri courts make decisions based on an equitable distribution of debts and assets. This doesn't mean the court decides to split marital property equally, but rather in the manner it believes is fair.

Complications

If one of the spouses claims the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage but the other party denies such a breakdown, Missouri courts can suggest and recommend to the parties to seek marital counseling. Though the court cannot mandate counseling, nor can any employee of the court be utilized as a marriage counselor, the court must hold a hearing on the matter no sooner than 30 days or later than six months after the denial of irretrievable breakdown.

Effects

Missouri divorces terminate the marriage and allow the parties to go on their separate ways, including getting remarried. If the court ordered marital or spousal support payments, the married couple must abide by the orders until the support payments are terminated or otherwise changed.