There is a common misconception that Missouri is a “no fault” divorce state. In Missouri, a court must find that there is no reasonable likelihood that a marriage can be preserved and that it is irretrievably broken. In order for a marriage to be irretrievably broken, the spouse filing for divorce (sometimes called a “petitioner”) must prove one or more of the following:
- the respondent has committed adultery, and the petitioner finds it intolerable to live with the respondent;
- the respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent;
- the respondent has abandoned the petitioner for a continuous period of at least six months preceding the presentation of the petition;
- the parties of the marriage have lived separate and apart by mutual consent for a continuous period of 12 months immediately preceding the filing of the petition; or
- the parties to the marriage have lived separate and apart for a continuous period of at least 24 months preceding the filing of the petition.
If, however, both parties agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken, there doesn’t need to be proof of any fault.
If one spouse does not want to get divorced and there is no proof that the marriage is irretrievably broken, either party may request a Legal Separation. Although rarely used, there are some circumstances where a legal separation is a practical option. A legal separation can have all of the same effective consequences as a divorce. It resolves custody, child support, divides property, maintenance, etc. If a legal separation is ordered by the court, either party may have the legal separation converted to a divorce after 90 days. Thus, legal separations are often seen as ineffective at preventing a divorce and often only add legal costs to both parties.
Call the family law attorneys at Murphy, Taylor, Siemens & Elliott P.C. if you are contemplating a divorce or legal separation from your spouse at (816) 364-6677.
Published by: Lindsey Bachman