How Do I File for Divorce in Missouri? – Costs and Procedures

Cost of Divorce in Missouri

Regardless of your type of divorce, charges will always be connected with submitting papers and obtaining services. These costs can range anywhere from zero to several hundred dollars.

The cost of an Uncontested Divorce in Missouri can range anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 on average.

Regarding Contested Divorces, attorneys in Missouri often need a retainer. The initial retainer cost for an attorney is usually in the range of $3,500. This figure can range anywhere from $500 to $25,000. The amount you pay depends on the attorney’s popularity and success and how difficult the divorce is to navigate.

The fees for filing paperwork in Missouri can range from $100 to $200 on average, but it all depends on the county. On average, the sheriff’s service fee is from $15 to $25 when delivering divorce papers.

Cost of Uncontested Divorce in Missouri

Whether or not you choose to have a disputed or uncontested divorce in Missouri will significantly impact the divorce’s final cost. An uncontested divorce will likely cost substantially less money overall.

With an uncontested divorce, there are no drawn-out conflicts over property, no protracted struggles for child custody, and no disagreements about alimony payments. If everyone agrees, there is no use in arguing about it.

The cost of an Uncontested Divorce in Missouri can range anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 on average.

Numerous divorce attorneys charge their clients on an hourly basis, but some give their services for a flat amount.

You may have to spend between $3,500 and $5,000 for an uncontested divorce if you live in one of the more expensive cities in the United States, such as Los Angeles or New York.

Cost of Contested Divorce in Missouri

The good news is that most divorce attorneys in Missouri (and everywhere else, for that matter) include the filing fee as part of their retainer.

However, the bad news is that a contested divorce always carries a higher cost, and a general estimate cannot cover that.

In Missouri, the typical cost for legal advice and representation is close to two hundred dollars per hour once you have secured the services of a lawyer on retainer.

If neither party believes the marriage is salvageable, the divorce must be based on blame for behaviors such as infidelity or desertion.

Choosing this path may potentially result in higher expenditures.

Regarding Contested Divorces, attorneys in Missouri often need a retainer. The initial retainer cost for an attorney is usually in the range of $3,500.

This figure can range anywhere from $500 to $25,000. It depends on the popularity and success rate of the divorce attorney and how difficult the divorce is to navigate.

Disputes Regarding Children, Maintenance Payments, and Property are Common in Contented Divorces

The costliest divorces are those that are contentious and include children. If the case goes to trial, the cost of legal representation alone might reach up to $17,000.

Although settling outside of court might substantially influence total costs, it is estimated that divorces with children are up to fifty percent more expensive than the typical case.

Disputes involving alimony contribute further to an increase in overall expenses. Alimony disagreements that are resolved amicably cost a little less than those that include children, but those that are litigated in court cost significantly more, often reaching approximately $30,000 or more.

In Missouri, the rate of divorces, including property disputes, is almost equivalent to the state’s overall divorce rate.

Nevertheless, going to trial to contest the partition of properties, including the expenditures to reevaluate property valuations, will significantly raise the costs.

Six Procedures to a Missouri Divorce

Step 1: File a Petition for Divorce

The submission of a petition for divorce marks the beginning of the process of dissolving a marriage in Missouri. A divorce petition is a legal document that asks the court to grant a divorce to one of the parties.

You may get a copy of the petition form by visiting the website of the Alabama courts. The petition must be submitted to the court in the county where you now reside.

In addition to the filing fee, the “Divorce Petition” and the “Confidential Case Filing Information Sheet” must be sent to the circuit court in your county when you have completed filling out these forms. In Missouri, there are 45 regional circuit courts, and each court has jurisdiction over several counties.

You can visit the “Your Courts” part of the website for the judicial arm of Missouri’s state government to obtain country-specific information and connections to the state map. Make sure that you have an additional copy of the petition for the divorce ready to serve on the respondent when you go to court to file the divorce petition.

Step 2: Give Your Spouse a Copy of the Petition to Sign

If the responder does not wish to be served the petition directly, they might choose to complete the “Answer” form instead. The respondent spouse admits that they have received a copy of the petition and that the court has power over the divorce case by completing the answer.

The answer can also be used to file the respondent spouse’s response to the petition. The respondent can agree or disagree with any of the statements presented by the petitioner in the divorce petition.

This response must be filed within a certain amount of time after the petition has been served.

Step 3: Come to an Agreement with Your Spouse Through Discussion and Negotiation

MO Uncontested Divorce (Low Costs)

You and your husband must be on the same page on every significant aspect of the divorce for it to be considered an uncontested divorce. This agreement must be comprehensive.

If you cannot reach a consensus on any of the points, the matter will be considered disputed and will go to trial.

MO Contested Divorce (High Costs)

Suppose you and your spouse cannot agree on the various aspects of your divorce, such as the division of property and debt, child custody, child support, alimony, etc. In that case, the divorce will be considered contested, and the court will make decisions regarding the various aspects of the divorce on your behalf.

This typically causes the divorce process to take longer, resulting in greater legal fees; nonetheless, it is the best way to guarantee that all partners are heard and that all evidence is presented accurately.

Step 4: Do-It-Yourself or Hire an Attorney?

DIY divorce Papers (Slower & Least Costly)

If you intend to end your marriage by self-representation and a do-it-yourself divorce in Missouri, then this is a straightforward, speedy, and low-cost method.

The necessary paperwork for a do-it-yourself divorce may usually be found on the website of Missouri’s judicial department, in a section labeled “Represent Yourself.” This is the standard procedure for a DIY divorce.

The brochure and the fill-in divorce form, which require much information to be filled in, are also available online for your convenience. You are required to carefully go through all of the forms, after which you must either input the information and obtain a printout or neatly fill out the forms by hand.

The state requires you of Missouri to finish a “litigant awareness program” if you are going to represent yourself in court. This program can be completed by either reading the materials or watching the video that is available online.

You are exempt from this requirement if you do not represent yourself in court. After completing this step, you will be required to fill out the “certificate of completion” and submit it to the circuit court.

Attorney for the Divorce Case (Longer & Expensive)

If you and your spouse cannot seem to agree to the divorce and are ready to fight it out in court, this choice should be the final option you consider.

If you want to have your case tried in court, the judge will first listen to all the information, evidence, and testimony related to your case before deciding how to proceed with the various concerns.

A case that is taken to trial is typically complex and requires the services of an attorney who can present and fight the case on your behalf in court.

Step 5: The Important Matters

Division of Property in the State of Missouri

Since Missouri is considered an “equitable distribution” state, the division of marital property is carried out fairly and reasonably there. The following considerations, among others, will be taken into account by the court when reaching a judgment about the equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities:

The financial state of each party at the time the property becomes divided may include awarding the marital home to the parent with primary physical custody of the children.

Or conversely, you could grant that parent the right to continue living in the family home for an appropriate amount of time after the divorce becomes final.

Support for the Spouse / Alimony

If one partner cannot provide for themselves financially, the court may require the other partner to pay alimony or spousal maintenance to the supporting partner. The judge will, however, take into consideration the following factors before deciding whether or not to issue an order for spousal support:

Laws Regarding Child Custody

When determining an appropriate custody arrangement for a child, the state court in Missouri looks out for what is in the child’s best interests.

If the parents can agree on the child custody arrangements, they can present those to the court, and if the judge determines that the agreement is in the kid’s best interests, then the agreement will be approved.

However, if both parents cannot agree on child custody, the court will consider several factors.

These factors include the wishes of the parents, the relationship that the child has with each parent, siblings, and any other significant members of the family or friends.

They also want to know which parent will encourage the child’s relationship with the other parent and how well the child can adjust to their home, community, and school.

The judge’s job is to ensure that both parents are actively involved in their child’s development. Because of this, neither the parent’s age, socioeconomic standing, or gender should be considered relevant elements.

Suppose either parent wants the custody arrangement to be altered in any way. In that case, that parent must first demonstrate that there has been a material shift in the circumstances surrounding them.

Child Support Payments

Guidelines provided by the state are applied to the total combined income of the parents to arrive at an amount that should be paid as child support.

In addition, the court considers the financial requirements and resources of both the parent and the child, the child’s physical, educational, and emotional requirements, and the child’s previous level of life.

Child support payments are required to continue until the child reaches the age of 18 years of age. That is, unless an exemption applies, such as when the child has a disability.

Another cause for exemption would be when the child is enrolled in graduate or undergraduate education or when the child is working.

The Department of Social Services enforces child support obligations in Missouri.

Step 6: Finalizing Your Divorce in Missouri

The respondent has the opportunity to file and serve an answer once the divorce petition has been submitted. If the respondent does not take advantage of this opportunity, then the respondent will be held to be in default, and a date for the final hearing will be scheduled.

This may indicate that the responder is just negligent or that both spouses have reached an agreement over the terms of the divorce after the petition was served.

In the state of Missouri, there is a waiting period of thirty days, and what this essentially means is that even if you and your spouse have jointly filed for divorce and you are both co-petitioners, the court won’t be able to grant a divorce until thirty days after the petition has been filed.

This is the case even if you and your spouse have jointly filed for divorce and are both co-petitioners.

Final Thoughts on How Do I File for Divorce in Missouri – Cost and Procedures

If you are thorough, get all your paperwork as accurate as possible, and have it submitted on or before time, you’re on the road to success. Then you must instruct the best divorce attorney you can find and afford. It will be worth it.

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Patricia Godwin

Patricia has many years of experience as a content writer on various subjects, and she is the Editor of Lifestyle Divorce. Patricia’s worked as the Practice Manager at an International Divorce and Family law firm for over 15 years. She is a qualified Counsellor, and she has had many counselling sessions with people considering or going through a divorce.

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