Divorce Requirements in St. Louis
State law requires at least one person to be a resident of the state of Missouri for at least 90 days prior to filing for divorce. In order to divide property or order maintenance, other minimum contacts with the State of Missouri may be required if one party resides out of the state. If the parties have children, jurisdiction may depend on where the children have lived for the last 6 months. Parties with children in Missouri are also required to attend a parenting education class.
If the parties are completely settled on all matters, and after the other side has either been served or filed an entry of appearance, the case must remain on file for 30 days before the court can enter a judgment. A lawyer prepares the paperwork, and the petitioner signs it.
The respondent spouse has to accept service and sign an entry of appearance. They can wait 30 days, the judge can then sign off on it, but either service or the entry of appearance must have been on file for at least 30 days. Since the divorce requirements in St. Louis can change depending on the circumstances of a particular case, it is advisable to seek legal advice from a skilled attorney from our firm.
Role of the Petitioning Spouse
In St. Louis, the spouse who initiates the divorce is required to start the paperwork. The petitioner essentially “goes first,” and they do not have to “prove” anything to start the process. They simply have to file the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, a Statement of Income & Expenses, and Statement of Property.
Role of the Responding Spouse
The respondent must file an answer and, more than likely, file a counter-petition within 30 days. They are going to have to file the same financial statements, as well. If they ignore it and do not want to respond, then the court will likely set a default hearing, and the petitioner will ask the judge for what they want within reason.
What if They Cannot be Located?
Most spouses can be located through the sheriff of a special process server. However, if a spouse has left the St. Louis area – which is more common in couples who have been separated for several years – the petitioner can serve the divorce papers by publication.
The filing spouse will have to search for the respondent as much as possible through public records, personal investigation, and a thorough legal investigation. There are databases we can use to assist with finding missing spouses.
If they ultimately cannot be found, then the petitioner would need to request the court to allow service by publication. They would also have to file an affidavit of all of their efforts and ultimately serve them by publishing in the legal newspaper in the last known area of the responding spouse.
Benefits of Hiring a Local Lawyer
It is important to hire a local lawyer who has knowledge of the jurisdictions, the law, relevant statutes, and current case law, as this can make a substantial difference in reaching a favorable outcome in your case. Just having the experience of being in court and understanding how it works can be very beneficial in protecting your rights and assets in the event of divorce. Consider reaching out to a seasoned family law attorney from our team today for more information on the divorce requirements in St. Louis.