How long a divorce can take in Missouri depends on your specific circumstances. At a minimum, your dissolution of marriage may be finalized 30 days after you or your spouse filed the petition with the court. As you must consider and resolve several critical issues with your spouse, the entire divorce process could take longer than 30 days.

Let's look at some of the waiting period requirements for a Missouri divorce and a few of the matters that can extend the amount of time you may have to wait before yours is final.

Meeting the Residency Requirement

When filing for a divorce, the first thing you must consider is how long you have lived in the state. Under Missouri law, either you or your spouse must have been a resident or stationed here as a member of the armed services for at least 90 days before submitting a petition to the court.

If you do not meet the residency requirement, your case may be dismissed.

Waiting for the Respondent to Answer

After you or your spouse have lived here the requisite amount of time, you can file for a divorce. The spouse submitting the petition is the petitioner, and the spouse named in the petition is the respondent.

The petitioner must have the respondent officially served with a copy of the divorce papers. The respondent has 30 days to answer.

Note that if you do not go through the proper channels for officially notifying your spouse, your divorce proceedings may be delayed or your case dismissed, adding more time to the process.

If you are the petitioner and cannot locate your spouse, you must make a good faith effort to find them. That means you have exhausted all reasonable avenues for obtaining information about their whereabouts. If your efforts prove fruitless, you must officially notify your spouse of the divorce by publishing a notice in the newspaper. These requirements can increase the amount of time it takes to finalize your divorce after you have submitted the petition.

Timeline for a Divorce by Default

If your spouse (or you – if you are the respondent) does not file an answer with the court, they are in default. When that happens, a judge may decide the case without hearing your spouse's side of the story.

A divorce decided by default judgment can take less time than one where the respondent answers.

Timeline for a Contested or Uncontested Divorce

The amount of time it takes for a contested or uncontested divorce to be finalized depends on the situation. Generally, an uncontested divorce will take less time, as both you and your spouse agree on critical issues such as child custody and property division. It would be a matter of the judge signing off on your decisions.

However, if you and your spouse cannot settle divorce matters together, you may need to go through mediation or court hearings. Mediation is where a neutral third party helps you and your spouse work through your differences and attempt to settle disputes.

A hearing is where you and your spouse present your cases in front of a judge. The judge then decides how matters will be settled.

As you can imagine, mediation and hearings can increase the length of time your divorce takes.

Divorce Judgment

Your divorce will be final 30 days after the judge signs the judgment. However, you or your spouse may file an appeal to challenge the final decision, which will add more time to the process.

Divorces can be lengthy and emotional, but you do not have to handle the process on your own. To have one of our compassionate St. Charles attorneys guide you through each step, contact Smith Law Offices, LLC at (636) 400-1177 today.