Same-sex marriages became legal in Missouri after the landmark ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges. Before this date, such marriages were banned within the state, although judges recognized them from other jurisdictions.
As a consequence, any gay divorce can be legally obtained in all Missouri counties. The only condition is to meet the residency requirements. Same-sex divorce in Missouri is granted under the same laws as heterosexual marriage dissolution.
Same-sex divorce online
A person married to a same-sex partner can get a divorce in Missouri either with or without a lawyer. If you are contemplating to prepare for your marriage dissolution by yourself, you should consider using online resources. Divorce over the Internet is an easy way to obtain same-sex divorce paperwork in Missouri.
The main reason why do-it-yourself divorces are in demand these days is that they are more affordable and time-saving than hiring a lawyer. For example, the services of onlinemissouridivorce.com cost only $139. For this price, you get all the necessary printable documents and qualified customer support that guides the customers through the process of filling the forms.
However, there are specific requirements for same-sex couples to file for divorce in Missouri online. Only spouses with an uncontested divorce can use web-based services. An amicable agreement can save you a lot of time and money, making the process quick and less stressful.
Same-sex divorce papers in Missouri
Depending on the county, the local rules on how to file same-sex divorce in Missouri can slightly vary. One standard document for almost all cases is a Petition for dissolution of marriage. The specific set of materials depends on the circumstances of each case. For example, same-sex divorce papers for couples with children will include a parenting plan.
A procedure for the dissolution of a common-law marriage is the same as for a licensed marriage. However, it is only possible if other states recognized this type of union because Missouri law abolished common-law marriages in 1921.
You can obtain same-sex divorce forms in Missouri either with the help of specialized online services or with a lawyer’s help. Obviously, the first option is more inexpensive since a typical hourly rate of a lawyer is $200.
Valid grounds for same-sex divorce in Missouri
In a same-sex marriage, spouses can file for divorce in Missouri if either of them has been a resident of this state for ninety days preceding the commencement of the action. Missouri law also requires that a person filing for divorce provides valid grounds (reasons) in the petition for dissolution of marriage. Since Missouri is a no-fault state, couples can get a same-sex divorce in Missouri if they agree that their marriage is irretrievably broken (Missouri Revised Statutes, §452.305). There is no need to prove anyone’s guilt in court.
However, if the other party denies that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court considers other fault-based grounds, such as:
- unacceptable behavior of the Respondent;
- separate living for at least 12 months.
Custody of the Child
In any divorce proceeding involving minor children, the court must determine the issue of child custody and visitation. In Missouri, parents are encouraged to participate in their child’s life, so the judge tends to award joint care and decision-making where possible. Spouses must attend a mandatory parenting class and provide the court with a parenting plan.
In general, there are several types of child custody: joint legal or sole legal and joint or sole physical. In determining the kind of care and visitation rights, the court takes into account the best interest of a child and considers the following factors:
- the wishes of the parents and the parenting plan;
- the needs of the child for continuing relationship with each parent;
- which parent will likely allow the child’s contact with the other parent;
- the interaction of the child with parents and siblings;
- the child’s adjustments to their home and school;
- the mental and physical health of all parties;
- history of domestic violence;
- the intention of either parent to move to another location;
- the wishes of a child (Missouri Revised Statutes, § 452.375).
In order to best protect the child, the court will investigate instances of domestic violence and whether one of the parents was charged with child abuse. In some complicated cases, only an experienced family law attorney can help to navigate the situation.
In a proceeding for marriage dissolution that involves children, the court can order one or both of the parents to pay child support. The amount of payments is determined by the state guidelines, which are adopted and regularly revised by the Missouri supreme court. To calculate child support, the court uses a formula based on both parents’ combined gross income and the number of children.
The court defines the reasonable amount of payments after considering several important factors:
- the child’s and parents’ financial needs and resources;
- the standard of living that the child had during the marriage;
- physical and emotional condition of the child;
- educational needs;
- the child custody arrangements;
- expenses concerning visitation time;
- work-related child care expenses.
According to § 452.340 of Missouri Revised Statutes, the payments end when a child:
reaches age 18 (unless he or she is enrolled in secondary education);
reaches age 21.
The court can extend the order for support if the child is physically or mentally disabled regardless of age.
The court will grant maintenance to one of the spouses who lack sufficient property, is unable to support themselves, or is a custodial parent who cannot find employment outside home because of the child’s condition (Missouri Revised Statutes, §452.335).
The amount and period of maintenance are determined according to several factors:
- financial resources of the spouse seeking support;
- the time needed for education to find a job;
- earning capacity of both parties;
- standard of living during the marriage;
- property and assets;
- the length of marriage;
- the needs of both spouses;
- age and health;
- other factors.
If the order for spousal support is modifiable, a paying spouse can apply for its change or termination. To recognize the need for modification, the court will need specific financial information to prove a significant change of circumstances affecting the ability to pay maintenance.
A divorce process in Missouri for same-sex includes division of marital assets and debts. If the issue is not addressed explicitly in a prenuptial or a settlement agreement, the court will divide assets equitably between the spouses. Below are the factors that a judge considers in their decision (Missouri Revised Statutes, § 452.330):
the economic conditions of each spouse after the division;
the contribution of each spouse to the marital property;
the value of non-marital property;
conduct of both spouses;
How is property divided in gay marriage? Divorce laws in Missouri are the same for same-sex unions and heterosexual couples. Only marital property is subject to division, including real estate, bank accounts, retirement benefits, post-wedding debts.
At any time during marriage dissolution proceedings, spouses can use mediation as an alternative way to resolve their disputes. A neutral party — a mediator — assists the couple to reach a voluntary mutual agreement before the next court hearing. The most common reason to opt for the help of a third party is child custody.
Negotiations between spouses are strictly confidential. They can consult an attorney, but cannot ask a mediator for any legal advice. All the decisions must be made only by the spouses. An amicable agreement allows the couple to control the outcome and avoid a long and stressful divorce trial. The cost of mediation can be divided between the spouses or imposed on one of them by the court order.
Filing fees for same-sex divorce in Missouri
Divorce for same-sex couples in Missouri begins when a person files a petition for dissolution of marriage and pays a fee. The amount of this payment depends on the case and the court rules of a chosen county. The couple can file for same-sex divorce in Missouri only in the county where one of the spouses resides.
Generally, the cases with children are slightly more expensive to file. The approximate amount of payment is $150-$200. More specific information about prices can be obtained in the county clerk’s office or online. Every court provides an option to waive this fee if a petitioner lacks financial resources.
How long it will take
In Missouri, the court rules for marriage dissolution include a waiting period of 30 days between filing a petition and serving the copies on the Respondent and the final decree. A decision on how to serve the other spouse affects the cost and duration of the case. For example, if a person married to a same-sex partner wants to get a divorce in Missouri while the spouse is out of state, he or she can use sheriff’s services in that state. It will cost an extra $30-$50.
The length of divorce process also depends on its complexity and whether it’s contested or uncontested. If the spouses can agree on all critical points, their marriage dissolution will be fast — two-three months. On the other hand, if there are contested issues, the process can extend to a few years.