After finally deciding it is time to get a divorce, your spouse may still try and do what they can to make the process as difficult for you as possible. This may include avoiding service of the divorce complaint or refusing to sign a divorce agreement. Your spouse may complicate matters and make the divorce procedure take longer than necessary but your spouse cannot stop you from getting a divorce.
Uncontested Divorce in Missouri
The simplest way to file for divorce in Missouri is through an uncontested divorce. This is where you and your spouse agree on everything, including property distribution and child custody. An uncontested divorce involves filing a petition for the court to approve rather than going through a lengthy trial.
However, even if you both agree that a divorce is in your best interest and begin the process, your spouse may change their mind or after talking to other “friends and family,” your spouse may turn an amicable separation into a contentious break-up.
If your spouse will not file the uncontested divorce petition, the divorce may have to proceed as a contested divorce.
Contested Divorce in Missouri
Contested divorces are common in Missouri, as most divorcing spouses are unable to agree to every detail. A contested divorce begins with filing a divorce petition and going through the court to get a divorce decree. After the initial petition for dissolution of marriage, the respondent has 30 days after service to answer a petition for dissolution.
Trouble Serving the Divorce Papers
A common delay tactic is to avoid service of process. If the respondent does not waive personal service, other methods of service include:
- Personal Service: For a fee, the sheriff or other court officer hand delivers the petition and the summons to the respondent.
- Private or Special Process Server: A special or private process server may be appointed by the court when the respondent is difficult to find or if the respondent is trying to avoid being served.
If a special process server is still unable to locate the respondent, service may be permitted through “service by publication.” This is generally the last option and only available where the location of the individual cannot be discovered and all other means have been attempted. Service by publication requires permission by the court. Talk to your attorney about the limitations of service by publication.
After Service of the Petition
After service of the petition of dissolution is effected, the respondent has 30 days to provide a response. If the respondent does not file an answer within 30 days, the respondent is in “default.” Without an answer, the petitioner may be able to go directly to the court to ask for the relief requested in the petition.
After the judge issues a judgment, the dissolution becomes final after 30 days. However, the other party may be able to file an appeal. If your spouse files an appeal after the court issues a divorce judgment, talk to your attorney about your options to enforce the terms of the divorce.
Talk to Your Missouri Divorce Attorney If Your Spouse Won't Agree to a Divorce
If you have any questions about filing for divorce without cooperation from your spouse, talk to your Missouri divorce attorney for help. Cass County family lawyer Joshua Wilson has years of experience in divorce disputes in Missouri. Contact the Joshua Wilson Law Firm today at (816) 331-9968 for a consultation.