Everything You Need to Know About Missouri Divorce Laws

Everything You Need to Know About Missouri Divorce Laws

Did you know that Gateway Arch in St. Louis honors the westward exploration of American explorers, and it is actually the tallest structure in the state of Missouri? If you expect to be exploring life outside your marriage you may need to learn about Missouri divorce laws.

Missouri divorce laws – Irretrievably broken

Missouri only allows one ground for divorce, and that is a finding by the court that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Generally all that takes under Missouri state divorce laws is one spouse stating under oath that the marriage is broken. Divorce laws in Missouri do have a provision saying that if one spouse denies the marriage is broken, the court must consider “all relevant factors” to determine if the marriage is actually broken.

Even though that process technically exists, there is a near zero chance that a modern judge will tell someone that they need to stay married against their will because their marriage actually is not broken.

Missouri divorce laws – Adultery

As mentioned above, Missouri has eliminated adultery as a ground for divorce. That said, the issue can come up in a couple ways. Adultery is one option for proving that a marriage is broken if one spouse denies it. Additionally, the “conduct of the parties during the marriage” can be considered during the property division process. So divorce laws in Missouri do recognize that adultery is significant.

Missouri divorce laws – Abandonment

Just like adultery, abandonment is no longer a valid ground for divorce in Missouri. That said, abandonment can be one way to prove the marriage is irretrievably broken if one spouse denies it. Desertion or abandonment can also become a factor in child custody and support decisions.

Missouri divorce laws – Property distribution

One of the issues settled at divorce is the division of the couple’s property. The spouses share rights to most everything either spouse earns during the marriage and it has to be divided up fairly. Each spouse generally gets to keep everything they brought into the marriage, plus any gifts or inheritances they recieved during the marriage. This is considered separate property in Missouri.

The marital property is split up “as the court deems just.” In other words, a judge can split up the property, however, he or she thinks is best, after considering a particular list of factors. Items to be considered include the behavior of each spouse (as mentioned above), the contribution of each spouse to the earnings of the marriage, the economic circumstances of each spouse, and the future care and housing of the couple’s children. Couples usually work out an agreement to avoid having a judge decide.

Missouri divorce laws – Child custody

Child custody is another area where judges have a great deal of discretion under the law. This is somewhat limited because each parent is supposed to offer a parenting plan, and then the judge is supposed to simply find a middle ground between the two plans. Many spouses come to an agreement without the court’s help. Missouri courts will also usually issue a child support order usually requiring the parent that makes more money (or has the child less) to pay money to the other spouse to help cover the child’s expenses.

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