Uncontested divorce explained

If you’re getting divorced and you’re envisioning a future filled with courtroom battles and skyrocketing attorney’s fees, you may not be seeing the whole picture. If you and your spouse share a desire to avoid conflict and the ability to work together, you may be able to get an “uncontested divorce” and move on with your life more quickly.

This article will explain uncontested divorces in Missouri and the Leadbelt area. If you still have questions after reading this article, you should consult with Tyler Law Office.

What is an Uncontested Divorce in Missouri?

An uncontested divorce means that you and your spouse agree on all the critical issues in your divorce, such as property division, allocation of debts, custody, parenting time (visitation), alimony and child support. You have to have a total agreement. If you don’t agree on all the issues, then your case is contested and it will proceed to trial.

There are two basic ways to get an uncontested divorce in Missouri:

Default proceeding:

If the “petitioner” (the spouse who asks for the divorce) files and serves divorce papers on the “respondent” (the other spouse), and the respondent doesn’t file or serve responsive papers, then the respondent is “in default” and the case is set for an uncontested final hearing. If the respondent does not appear at the hearing, then the divorce is granted in the issues are decided in favor of the petitioner.

Uncontested divorce by agreement:

If the petitioner and respondent are in agreement about the terms of the divorce from the beginning, one party can file a petition and attach a copy of their written agreement signed by both parties. They will bypass the rest of the divorce process and can finalize the divorce either by a brief hearing in front of a judge, or by affidavit. in either instance the judge will sign a final order. An uncontested divorce by agreement is the least expensive way to become divorced.

You can only file for divorce in Missouri if you meet the residency requirements. Either you or your spouse has to have been a resident of Missouri for at least 90 days before you file the divorce papers.

You also have to give the court a legal reason (“grounds”) to grant the divorce. Missouri is a no-fault state, which means that the only ground you can cite is that your marriage is “irretrievably broken”. In other words, no one is to blame, and no one has to sling mud in a courtroom about the cause of the divorce.

Waiting period and final hearing:

Following all of this, the respondent has the opportunity to file and serve an answer to the petition. If the respondent doesn’t do this, the respondent is in default and the case will be set for a final hearing. There are a number of reasons why the respondent might not file an answer. It could be simple negligence, or it could be because the spouses talked and agreed on the terms of the divorce after the petition was served.

However, there is a 30-day waiting period in Missouri. This means the court can’t grant a divorce until at least 30 days after the petition is filed. This waiting period can be very helpful if you need to finish settling your regular, non-joint petition divorce case. If you reach an agreement, you can memorialize it in writing and submit it to the judge at the final hearing.

At the final hearing, the judge will ask the petitioner to give some very brief testimony. If all the papers are in order and the agreement is fair, the judge will sign the order.