Even if you and your spouse mutually agree to end your marriage, getting divorced is still a complicated and emotional process. This decision can affect several important aspects of your life, such as your finances, your children, and even your future. Because of this, you need a compassionate representative on your side that will help you move forward while protecting your interests and needs.
If you are considering dissolving your marriage, do not hesitate to contact us at Jones Family Law Group, LLC. We believe every divorce is different, and you deserve representation that will cater to your unique circumstances and needs. In addition to your divorce, our attorneys can help you with several related processes, such as child support, alimony, property division, prenuptial agreements, and more. Let a Des Peres divorce attorney take the lead in your case and help you make decisions that serve your financial and personal goals.
Grounds for Divorce in Des Peres
In order for you to obtain a divorce, Missouri Revised Statutes §452.310 requires one spouse to file a petition to dissolve the marriage. The spouse who files, called the Petitioner, must have lived in the state for a minimum of 90 days before filing the petition. The Petitioner must allege that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
However, if the other spouse, called the Respondent, states in their response to the Petition that they do not agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the Petitioner must prove to the court that the Respondent’s conduct makes it impossible for the marriage to continue. The Petitioner must prove the Respondent:
- Committed adultery
- Exhibited physical or mental cruelty
- Lived apart from the Petitioner for at least two years without the Petitioner’s consent (abandonment)
- Lived apart from the Petitioner for at least one year with the Petitioner’s consent
Divorce on the grounds that the marriage is irretrievably broken is commonly referred to as a no-fault divorce. A Des Peres attorney recommends no-fault divorce in most circumstances, as proving fault requires considerable time and expense. In addition, couples who pursue no-fault divorce often manage the marriage dissolution process without unnecessary rancor, which benefits everyone involved, especially the children.
Procedure for an Uncontested Divorce
If you and your spouse have agreed on all substantial issues relevant to the marriage dissolution, you could mutually file for an uncontested divorce. For this, you and your former spouse must have written agreements concerning alimony, child custody and child support, and the division of the marital property. One spouse must file a Petition for divorce, and the other spouse will file an Answer agreeing with the statements in the Petition, which is typically filed together.
If you have children under age 18, the law requires both parents to submit a Parenting Plan covering where the children will live, when they will have contact with the other parent, and transportation arrangements. The Parenting Plan also must describe which parent has decision-making authority on what issues or whether you and the other parent will share decision-making authority. The Plan must set forth a process for you both to resolve disputes about the children. Finally, the Plan must include child support arrangements and agreements regarding health or dental insurance coverage for the children, as well as how other expenses for activities and extras will be paid.
A Des Peres attorney could help you and your former spouse develop the necessary agreements to file with the Petition and Answer, and any other documents the specific court in the county of filing requires. When spouses have created the necessary arrangements before filing for divorce, the process is usually quick and relatively inexpensive compared to a contested divorce. If all the documents are complete and acceptable, the court could issue an order dissolving the marriage as early as 30 days after the filing.
Complicated Dissolution Often Requires Contested Divorce
Many couples are not candidates for an uncontested divorce, even if they agree that divorce is necessary because their marriage is irretrievably broken. Couples with complicated finances or who disagree about arrangements for the children must file a contested divorce.
In a contested divorce, one spouse files a Petition to dissolve the marriage, and the other spouse files an Answer to the Petition. Afterwards, the process of discovery will begin which requires you and your spouse to exchange documents concerning each other’s finances and other areas of contention. As the discovery process unfolds, attorneys for both spouses will typically try to negotiate a settlement.
Many jurisdictions have mandatory mediation, where you and your former spouse will try to reach a mediated settlement. If you still cannot mutually agree on all issues, a trial will take place, and a judge will decide. In most cases, a couple settles all issues through their attorneys or the mediation process, and a trial is unnecessary.
Speak With a Des Peres Divorce Attorney Today
Although most married couples hope to stay together forever, sometimes ending a marriage is the best decision for everyone. Even if this decision is mutual, it does not make this process any easier. Getting divorced triggers difficult emotions and numerous practical challenges. You need an accomplished legal professional to help you prepare for your life after marriage.
At Jones Family Law Group, LLC, we understand the challenges and heartbreak that can come with this process. Allow a Des Peres divorce lawyer at our firm to lift some of the legal stressors and burdens off your shoulders while you focus on healing. Talking about divorce can be a sensitive topic, but you can rest assured that all matters discussed during a consultation are confidential. Call today to learn more.