Legal Updates

Divorce and Legal Separation in Missouri, What Does it Mean?

Divorce and Legal Separation in Missouri, What Does it Mean?Missouri is a no-fault state. It is not necessary to show that either one of the parties was at fault. The statutory basis for a divorce in Missouri is that there is no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved and, therefore, the marriage is irretrievably broken.

Since Missouri is a no-fault divorce state, one does not have to prove that his or her spouse did something wrong to be granted a divorce.  If your spouse does not want a divorce, in order to prevent it he or she will have to deny that the marriage is irretrievably broken.  However, you may still obtain a divorce if you are able to prove one of the following factors:

  • Your spouse committed adultery and that you cannot live with your spouse;
  • Your spouse has behaved in a way that makes it where you are unable to live with him/her;
  • Your spouse has abandoned you for at least six continuous months before the divorce was filed;
  • You and your spouse have agreed to live separately and have done so for at least 12 continuous months  before the divorce was filed, or
  • You and your spouse lived separately for at least 24 months before the divorce was filed.

If you file for divorce in Missouri and your spouse denies that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court will likely enter an order granting the parties a legal separation.  A legal separation is essentially a financial divorce.  While the parties remain legally married, the court can and will divide marital assets, make decisions regarding child custody and child support and perhaps even order one party to pay maintenance (alimony) to the other party.

If a Missouri court grants a legal separation, either party can file a Motion to Convert the Judgment of Legal Separation into a Judgment of Dissolution 90 days after the court enters a judgment of legal separation.

This article is not intended to be legal advice or to form an attorney – client relationship.  It is solely intended to provide general information related to divorce in the state of Missouri.  In order to be fully advised on your rights and responsibilities in a divorce or any legal matter, it is best to consult an attorney so that he or she can give opinions based on your specific circumstances.