Divorce Process in Missouri: What to Expect

If you consider starting the divorce process in Missouri, it’s essential to get acquainted with the laws that apply in your state. Many couples deciding to dissolve their marriage have questions about the MO divorce process and its specifics. Such inquiries are reasonable, given the complexity of all judicial procedures of divorce steps. Indeed, a clear understanding of what to wait for provides some relief while going through the Missouri divorce process.

Marriage dissolution can be emotionally and physically exhausting for all parties involved. Therefore, it is important to prepare carefully to make the divorce process easier. In this article on initiating the divorce process in Missouri, we will provide information on what you can expect in terms of legal procedures and steps to follow.


How to Begin a Divorce Process in Missouri

If you don’t know how to begin the divorce process in Missouri, then, of course, you can use the advice of an attorney. However, hiring a lawyer may not be necessary if you and your soon-to-be ex agree on the terms of your breakup.

To make the divorce process in Missouri quick and stress-free, you need to create a plan and act on it. Preparing for your marriage termination involves several steps:

  • Make sure you meet the state residency requirements. A person can start a divorce process in the state if they have resided in MO for not less than 90 days. There is an exception for members of the armed forces stationed in MO: even if a person is not a state resident but has been stationed here for at least 90 days, they can file for divorce here.
  • Think about the grounds for dissolution of marriage. MO is a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning that spouses can break up without proving that one party is at fault and solely responsible for ending a marriage.
  • Gather all necessary documents for the Missouri divorce process. These include your marriage certificate, financial records, custody and child support info, etc.
  • Prepare the paperwork for your divorce. If spouses agree, they can work together to complete the necessary documents. This way, you and your soon-to-be ex can take control of the terms of your dissolution and will not need a court to make divorce-related decisions for you.
  • Consider online document preparation. You can use online services if your divorce is uncontested and you do not want to spend hours or even days on complicated legal paperwork. In the case of fully agreed no-fault dissolution, going through the process of divorce in Missouri without legal representation and choosing an online document preparation service could be a favorable choice. You simply complete a questionnaire and receive a set of case-specific filled-out forms that are ready to file with the court.

Proper preparation can eliminate many difficulties in the future, so you should take the first stages of your marriage dissolution process, particularly getting ready for it, seriously.

Step-by-Step Divorce Process in Missouri

Although every case is unique, the divorce process can be generally divided into several primary stages. Below, the description of the step-by-step divorce process in Missouri and a brief overview of what each stage involves are provided.

Step 1. File the Petition

The party initiating the MO divorce process must file a petition in the county where either spouse resides. It must bear the petitioner’s signature and an affidavit stating that all allegations in the petition are true. With the petition, one should also submit many other forms to the court. If you have chosen to order your papers online, the document preparation process can be much faster than when dealing with paperwork on your own.

Please note that courts charge fees for filing legal documents.

Step 2. Notify your Spouse

Ensure you notify a respondent that you have filed for divorce; the other party should be familiar with the documents you have submitted to the court. A respondent may waive a personal service by signing “Entry of Appearance and Waiver of Service” in front of a notary public; otherwise, you will need to hire a sheriff or a private process server to deliver the papers. The other spouse must respond within 30 days, and failing to do so may lead to the court granting a default judgment.

If you’ve included your partner’s response with the initial petition and other necessary documents, there is no need to go through the formal MO divorce process of serving papers. Just make sure both parties have copies of all required divorce documents.

Step 3. Parenting Plan and Financial Disclosures

Both partners must go through financial disclosure as part of the divorce process in Missouri. It means revealing all sources of income and preparing a comprehensive list of assets and liabilities. Providing accurate and thorough information is essential, as hiding assets during court proceedings can lead to adverse results like prolonged court process and liability for giving false information.

You will also need to make a parenting plan if you have children. It will guide co-parenting after divorce and include details about custody, visitation schedule and rights, communication between parents, etc. Also, parties with minor children should attend parenting classes; it is obligatory in the state.

Step 4. Waiting Period

There is a mandatory 30-day waiting period for the process of divorce in Missouri; it begins upon submitting your papers to the court, and the judge cannot make a final decision on your case before it is over.

However, divorce usually takes more time to finalize, depending on the volume of cases the court has to deal with and the availability of judges.

Step 5. The Final Judgement

Couples in uncontested divorces may bypass the hearing process; a judge can review their documents without them being present to determine whether to approve the judgment. However, it is better to check with the court clerk in advance if a hearing is necessary in your case.

If you and your soon-to-be ex cannot come to an amicable settlement despite your best efforts, then it is necessary to go to court. Once you’ve resolved all questions and the 30-day waiting period has passed, the court can schedule a final hearing, and the judge handling your case can issue a final judgment. A couple becomes officially divorced after 30 days if no one files an appeal.

Mutual Divorce Process in Missouri

Many couples, even those having irreconcilable differences, can often achieve a mutually agreeable resolution through private discussions, mediation, or the collaborative law approach.

In the Missouri uncontested divorce process, spouses can file for divorce together. Here is a brief list of the steps involved in the mutual divorce process in Missouri:

  • Spouses must agree on all dissolution-related matters, such as child custody and visitation, child support, spousal support (if applicable), property division and debts, and other relevant issues.
  • The next step is to draft a comprehensive settlement agreement outlining all Missouri divorce process aspects, including financial arrangements and custody schedules.
  • Both parties must file the petition jointly and are responsible for notifying the court that the divorce is agreed upon. A mandatory 30-day waiting period begins from the date you filed for dissolution of marriage before the divorce process in Missouri can be finalized.
  • Both partners attend a hearing where the judge reviews the settlement agreement to ensure it is fair and complies with MO law. If it is approved, the judge will issue a final judgment.

This amicable divorce is less expensive and easier than a contested option, where disagreements require litigation. In some cases, though, like when determining child custody or property division, consulting with a family law attorney will help ensure the settlement is correctly prepared.


Divorce is a formal end to a marriage and a legal process by which a couple officially dissolves their marital union. It typically involves filing papers with the court, reaching agreements on issues such as property division and child custody, waiting till a mandatory period is over, attending court hearings if required, and obtaining a final decree.

The starting point is preparing and filing a divorce petition and other divorce documents with the court. This legal action is necessary even if both spouses agree to divorce. The person who initiates this process is called a petitioner, while the other spouse is a respondent.

If you and your spouse cannot agree on at least one legal issue related to your marriage dissolution, a trial will be necessary, adding to the length and cost of the divorce process. That’s why it’s highly advisable to negotiate out of court a fair settlement that satisfies both parties.


We are not attorneys and cannot give legal advice. The information provided on the website or by the support team cannot be considered as legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is created by any use of this site or its contents, or by any communication facilitated by the site. The purpose of our service is providing legal forms for uncontested divorces only. If you believe you need lawyer’s help, it is best to get it.