How Long Does a Divorce Take in Missouri?

Divorce is a complicated legal process that is often time-consuming. How long does a divorce take in Missouri? The nature of marriage dissolution – contested or uncontested – largely affects the divorce timelines. It is common than uncontested cases last a bit longer than the Missouri divorce waiting period of 30 days, while the contested ones may continue from 6 to 12 months. If you have decided to file for divorce and do not know how long it will take, this article provides detailed information on the duration of the divorce process in Missouri.

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How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take in Missouri?

The divorce timeline for uncontested cases is 60 to 90 days, on average. If you and your spouse have no disagreements on marital issues, your divorce process in Missouri will last at least 30 days due to the mandatory waiting period (Mo. Rev. Stat. §452.305 (1)). Until it is over, the court cannot make the final decision on marriage dissolution. However, obtaining a divorce just after the waiting period ends is uncommon. How long it takes to get a divorce in Missouri will also depend on the court’s workload and how soon the judge can review the case.

In uncontested divorces, parties must previously agree on all divorce-related issues such as child custody and visitation, division of assets, liabilities and debts, alimony, etc. It means they will not need to take part in court battles and numerous hearings. Reaching an agreement and going through this type of divorce can help spouses reduce the process timelines if compared to contested cases.

How Long Does a Contested Divorce Take in Missouri?

A contested divorce process can take from 6 to 12 months or more to finalize. If parties cannot agree on asset distribution, spousal maintenance, child custody, or any other terms out of court, it will greatly prolong the divorce since litigation will likely be needed.

If parties are willing to cooperate, they may try to resolve disputes before going to court through mediation and negotiations. However, if they cannot reach an agreement, the case will go to trial. Spouses will need to hire attorneys to represent them, which will also affect the divorce timeline as parties will adjust to their attorneys’ busy schedules. In complex cases, the involvement of other professionals, such as child custody experts and property or business evaluators, is necessary, which can additionally prolong the marriage dissolution process.

If you wonder, “How long do you have to be separated to get a divorce in Missouri in a contested case?”, the answer will be that the state laws do not require spouses to separate before they can get divorced. However, parties should also go through the mandatory waiting period before the court can review the case and schedule hearings.

How Long Does a Divorce Case Stay Open in Missouri?

According to state law, the case remains open for at least 30 days, which is the Missouri divorce waiting period, until the judge issues a divorce decree (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 452.305. (1)). In many divorces, though, this time extends to 6-9 months due to the high workload of the courts.

In order for spouses to cool off and review the decision to divorce, the judge may offer but cannot force them to attend family counseling and suspend the process from 1 to 6 months, which will affect the divorce timeline (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 452.305). If reconciliation between the parties has not taken place during this time, the judge can declare the marriage irretrievably broken, issue a divorce decree, and close the case.

If one of the spouses does not recognize an irretrievable breakdown as a reason for divorce and the court considers that the couple can save the marriage, the judge can order a legal separation. In such a situation, the parties will be able to open the final marriage dissolution case no earlier than 90 days after the separation is ordered (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 452.360).

If spouses filing for divorce change their decision and do not want to continue the divorce process, the court can appoint a dismissal hearing. If a couple decides to continue their marriage, the court closes the divorce case.

When is a Divorce Final in Missouri?

The divorce in Missouri becomes final 30 days after the judge signs the divorce decree (Missouri Supreme Court Rule 75.01). If spouses file an appeal against the court decision, the divorce timeline will significantly increase. In cases where the parties remain unsatisfied with the result of their marriage dissolution, they may again need to involve attorneys and other professionals to resolve their disagreements regarding child custody, visitation, support, and division of assets or debts. This will result in several more court hearings, and the divorce may become final no earlier than in a few months.

If you filed papers with the court on the ground that your marriage is irretrievably broken, but the other party denied this reason and the court issued a decision on legal separation, you will be able to re-submit forms for a divorce after 90 days have passed.

To sum up, if you wonder, “How long does it take for a divorce to be final in Missouri from the start of the divorce process?”, the answer will be no less than 60 days; the first 30 days are the mandatory Missouri divorce waiting period, and the next 30 days are the time during which the parties can file an appeal.


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.