We Answer Common Questions About Missouri Divorce
Ending a marriage is stressful because of the emotions and history but also because of the unknowns about the future. Our lawyers strive to address your questions and anxieties so that you can approach divorce proceedings with clarity and confidence.
We answer some frequently asked questions. To address your unique circumstances, call the Law Office of Curtis M. Garner & Associates, LLC, at 417-865-5297 to arrange a free consultation.
What are the grounds for divorce in Missouri?
Missouri is a no-fault state. That means that either party can petition for divorce even if one spouse wants to stay married. It is not necessary to prove any wrongdoing; you only have to show that the marriage is irretrievably broken. The court can consider adultery or domestic abuse in property division, alimony or child custody but it has no bearing on granting the actual divorce.
Should we get a legal separation?
In general, we don’t recommend separation as an alternative to divorce. A legal separation addresses everything a divorce does in terms of property, custody and financial support, except that neither party can remarry. However, if you have your reasons for living apart but staying legally married, it is easy enough to convert a separation agreement to a divorce at a later date.
Do mothers get custody in a Missouri divorce?
It is not true that fathers have no rights. If you are on the birth certificate, you have rights. Missouri is not a 50-50 state for child custody, but it’s pretty close. The courts acknowledge that children need both parents, and fathers who want substantial time with their kids usually get it.
How long does it take to get a divorce in Missouri?
It can be relatively quick when both spouses want to be adults about it. If you have the basics for a divorce settlement, we can draw up the papers and present it to the court. An uncontested divorce can be granted in 45 days. If the other party does not respond to a divorce petition, you can get a default judgment in 45 to 60 days. If any aspect of divorce is contested, such as dividing property and debts, the court process will take many months. Contested custody or complex asset division can extend divorce proceedings to a year or more.
Do I have to share my 401(k) with my spouse?
Yes. All wealth acquired during a marriage is subject to equitable distribution (not necessarily 50-50). This includes real estate, businesses and retirement savings, even if one spouse was the breadwinner or the only contributor to a 401(k) savings plan. Retirement savings earned prior to marriage may be considered separate property.
What Are Your Questions?
We educate our clients so that they can make informed decisions about divorce. We can address all your questions and concerns in a free initial consultation at our Springfield office. Call 417-865-5297 or email us.