In Missouri, parties can obtain what is commonly referred to as a "no-fault divorce." This means that generally speaking, a party does not have to prove any kind of fault in order to obtain a divorce. If both spouses agree that the marriage is "irretrievably broken," the court will grant the divorce.
If one spouse refuses to admit that the marriage is irretrievably broken, you can still get a divorce but your situation becomes more complicated. If you are facing either situation, an experienced Missouri divorce lawyer can help.
Irretrievably Broken - What Does This Mean?
Courts are required to make a finding that the marriage is irretrievably broken and cannot be saved. Parties commonly agree that this is the case, hence why they are getting divorced. To make this showing, the parties typically include language in their divorce petitions like:
The marriage is irretrievably broken, and there is no reasonable likelihood the marriage can be preserved.
Once the court is able to make this finding based on the parties' agreement, the divorce process can proceed in a typical fashion. Remember, even a "typical" divorce can be complicated, and the help of a knowledgeable divorce attorney is key to protecting your assets and your rights.
What if one spouse will not agree?
If one spouse opposes the divorce (the respondent), it is common for that spouse to refuse to agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken. The spouse who wants the divorce (the petitioner) can still seek a divorce. If this is the case, the court will consider certain factors to determine if the marriage is irretrievably broken.
If the court finds one of the factors in Mo. Rev. Stat. § 452.320 to be true, it can grant the divorce:
- That the respondent has committed adultery and the petitioner finds it intolerable to live with the respondent;
- That the respondent behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent;
- That the respondent has abandoned the petitioner for a continuous period of at least six months preceding the presentation of the petition;
- That the parties to the marriage have lived separate and apart by mutual consent for a continuous period of twelve months immediately preceding the filing of the petition;
- That the parties to the marriage have lived separate and apart for a continuous period of at least twenty-four months preceding the filing of the petition.
If the court finds any of the above to be true, the divorce can be granted over the spouse's objection. A court may also set the matter for further hearing and suggest the parties seek counseling. After thirty days to six months have passed, the court must hold a hearing to make its determination.
If the court finds that the marriage is irretrievably broken, it can grant the divorce. If it does not, the court may grant a legal separation. A legal separation can be converted into a divorce through a later motion with the help of your lawyer.
Consult With an Attorney
If you are considering a divorce, and your spouse objects, an experienced Missouri divorce attorney can help you understand the issues that may arise and help you prove your case. Our experienced team at the Joshua Wilson Law Firm is well equipped to help clients in Cass County, including Raymore, Harrisonville, Belton, and surrounding areas.
Contact the Joshua Wilson Law Firm today to schedule a consultation of your case.