Rolla, MO Lawyers Offer Skilled and Professional Divorce Representation
Compassionate marital law attorneys protect your rights
If you’ve made the difficult decision to dissolve your marriage, you probably want the process to go as smoothly as possible. At Williams, Robinson, Rigler & Buschjost, P.C. in Rolla, we serve all of South-Central Missouri. Our attorneys understand the anguish divorce can cause, and we work closely with you to reach a favorable conclusion as quickly, painlessly and cost-effectively as possible. However, in some cases, a favorable outcome requires aggressive litigation to protect your parental rights and secure your fair share of marital property. You can rely on our professionalism and dedication as we work to deliver the results you need to begin the next phase of your life with confidence.
Requirements and grounds for divorce in Missouri
Missouri law requires that at least one spouse reside in the state for 90 days before either spouse files an action for divorce. Filing can take place in the court of the county where either spouse resides.
Missouri has only one ground for the dissolution of marriage: there is no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved and that, therefore, the marriage is irretrievably broken. This is a no-fault ground, so the petitioning spouse does not have to prove any marital misconduct. The petitioner must simply state under oath that the marriage is irretrievably broken. If the other party agrees or offers no denial, the divorce goes forward.
However, if the responding party believes that there is a chance for reconciliation, the court must hold a hearing to decide whether the marriage is irretrievably broken. At this point, the petitioner must present evidence to support at least one of the following:
- The respondent has committed adultery and the petitioner finds it intolerable to live with the respondent.
- The respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent.
- The respondent has abandoned the petitioner for a continuous period of at least six months prior to the filing.
- Both parties have lived separate and apart by mutual consent for a continuous period of 12 months immediately preceding the filing.
- Both parties have lived separate and apart for a continuous period of at least 24 months preceding the filing of the petition.
If the court finds that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the divorce action can proceed. If not, the court can order a continuance of 30 days to six months or dismiss the action.
Uncontested and contested divorce in Missouri
Many people confuse the terms “no-fault divorce” and “uncontested divorce.” No-fault simply means the petitioner does not have to assert or prove grounds for divorce. It does not mean the two parties are in agreement about the terms for settling their divorce. A couple can have a no-fault divorce but still fight in court over their children and property. In such a case, their divorce would be no-fault and contested. However, with an uncontested divorce, the parties have reached a settlement agreement on all ancillary issues — alimony, child custody, child support and the division of property — and they present their settlement agreement to the court for approval. That settlement agreement then becomes the basis for their divorce decree.
An uncontested divorce is generally preferable to a contested divorce as long as the settlement protects your parental and property rights. Uncontested divorce saves time and money and is less stressful, but it requires cooperation and highly skilled legal representation.
Distribution of property in a Missouri divorce
Missouri is an equitable distribution state, which means the court divides marital property, consisting of assets and debts, in a manner that is fair but not necessarily equal. This is a three-step process that involves:
- Identifying marital property — The court must decide whether each item belongs to one spouse as separate property or to the marital estate and thus subject to equitable distribution. How and when the property was acquired is a major factor at this stage.
- Valuing marital property — A value is assigned to all assets and debts. Some assets, such as stock portfolios, banking accounts and insurance policies, are rather straightforward. Other assets, such as real estate, fine art, jewelry, business interests and intellectual property, may require professional assessments.
- Dividing marital property — The court applies numerous statutory factors to determine the appropriate portion of the property to award to each party.
Depending on the size and complexity of your marital estate, property distribution can be quick and easy or highly contentious. Fortunately, our family law attorneys have extensive experience with high-net-worth marital estates. We provide the detailed attention your case requires to protect your property rights.
Contact our Rolla family law firm for dedicated and professional divorce representation
Williams, Robinson, Rigler & Buschjost, P.C. in Rolla provides compassionate and capable divorce representation for clients throughout South-Central Missouri. To schedule an appointment, call 573-458-5200 or contact us online.