St. Louis Divorce Lawyer
How to Get a Divorce in Missouri
The decision to divorce is never easy and the process can be complicated, especially if there are minor children or marital property disputes. At Cavanagh & Associates, our primary goal is to guide our clients through the process and advocate for their best interests. With more than 50 years of legal experience handling divorce in St. Louis, we fight to get the best decision for every client.
What Are the Grounds for Divorce in Missouri?
When it comes to divorce, Missouri is a no-fault state. This means you do not have to prove cruelty, adultery, or any other grounds or reasons for divorce. Most people cite irreconcilable differences in their petition for dissolution of marriage (see below).
That being said, the court may consider the reason for the divorce during your case, so if you are filing for divorce because of adultery, intolerable behavior, separation (living apart), abandonment, or criminal activity, be sure to specify this in your petition. This could be especially important if your spouse denies that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
Sometimes, Missouri will grant a legal separation instead of a divorce, but our St. Louis divorce attorneys will help you fight for the outcome you want from the very start.
The Process of Divorce in Missouri
The simplified process is as follows:
- The first step in a no-fault divorce is for one party to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, stating that the marriage is irretrievably broken. There will be a small fee you must pay to file.
- To meet the residency requirements, at least one party must be a resident of Missouri for the past 90 days. This also applies to military members who were stationed in Missouri during that time period. - 1 MO ST § 452.305(1)
- You must serve your spouse the divorce papers, however it cannot be done by someone who isn't over 18. This individual must also not have a personal gain within your case. This is why people utilize the services of their local sheriff or professional process server. If your spouse does not answer the petition within 30 days, the divorce can still go through via default judgement.
- Once the required documentation has been filed, a 30-day mandatory waiting period is required before a court hearing. While this is meant to be a cooling off period, it is not a realistic amount of time for couples to reconcile, so the divorce usually goes through.
- During the hearing, the spouses present their arguments and the court will enter orders concerning child custody, child support, spousal support, and division of marital property.
Whether you intend to file a Petition for Dissolution or need to respond to a petition filed by your spouse, our lawyer can help. Many issues must be decided during a divorce, depending on the situation and whether the couple has children or not. It is wise to have a legal advocate by your side who can help you understand the best decisions to make for you and your family.
“Jack has been a lawyer for a long time. He values his clients and sees them as people with individual circumstances, and not just dollar bills like other attorneys...He’s not only a great attorney but I consider him a friend. Choose Jack!” - Paige
Elements of Your Divorce That We Can Handle
Our legal services include, but are not limited to:
- Pre-divorce consultation
- Mediation/collaborative divorce
- Dissolution of marriage
- Marital misconduct
- Division of property
- Spousal support
- Child support
- Child custody
- Post-judgment actions
Our practiced attorney can advise you and look out for your best interests in the division of property and assets, spousal support, child support, and custody of minor children.
What Are the Costs Associated with Divorce?
Divorce costs fluctuate depending on the complexity of the case and whether it’s contested. Still, there are some standard fees that you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse can anticipate. Missouri divorces will incur costs including:
- Verifying the divorce petition, which banks do for varying fees
- Filing fees, which typically cost $145
- Service fees, which cost $36 and are incurred if an officer must serve your spouse
In addition to the formal fees associated with the process, it’s important to recognize the long-term financial impact divorce can have. Assets are split, alimony may be owed, and debt is divided, possibly leaving you with some of your partner’s debt if you’re unprotected by a prenup.
Many are averse to hiring an attorney, viewing it as just another cost in what could be an already expensive process. While this may be true short-term, handling the matter independently could lead to further fees down the road if legal intervention is needed to resolve a mistake made during the finalization of your DIY-divorce. Save yourself the stress, money, and time by calling on Cavanagh & Associates.
Adultery & Missouri Divorce Laws
Although Missouri is a no-fault divorce state, adultery can affect your case in a multitude of ways:
- Disagreement – If one spouse disagrees that the marriage is irretrievably broken, then the other spouse may use evidence of adultery as proof of an intolerable living environment. Evidence collected may include video, texts, phone logs, or another person’s eyewitness testimony.
- Asset Distribution – If the court finds that the cheating spouse’s behavior directly correlates with finances, it will consider that money spent on the affair when dividing marital property.
- Custody of Children – When two parents are fighting for custody, the court may take the conduct of the cheating parent into consideration. This may apply to visitation rights as well.
How an Attorney Can Help You With Divorce in MO
There is no law in Missouri that requires the hiring of an attorney prior to divorcing. Many couples have filed solo and have had success, especially in uncontested cases. However, consulting with an attorney first is always recommended. An attorney that has experience with divorce can open your eyes to options you did not know existed.
It is a common misconception that hiring a lawyer for divorce will result in higher costs and extended waiting times. The intentions of our lawyers are to guide you on the most efficient path possible. If cases involving children or large assets are present, these may naturally take longer due to their complexity and sensitivity. Our goal is to build you a foundation of success that will carry through the short and long-term.
At Cavanagh & Associates, we counsel our clients thoroughly about their complex family law issues in dispute, helping them consider the most rational tactics for dispute resolution. When it is not possible to avoid a fight, we have the skill to win that fight. Regardless of how your divorce dispute is resolved, we always work to protect your legal interests and guide you through the process as easily and painlessly as possible.
Get the advice you need during a consultation. Call (314) 309-2799 to schedule an appointment.
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