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What is a Default Divorce in Missouri

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A divorce in Missouri by default occurs when one spouse files for divorce (the petitioner) and the other spouse (the respondent) does not respond to the divorce petition within the specified time frame, usually 30 days. In this situation, the divorce process proceeds without the active participation of the non-responsive spouse.

Here is an overview of the typical steps in a divorce by default in Missouri:

  • Filing the Petition: The petitioner initiates the divorce process by filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the appropriate Missouri court. This document outlines the grounds for divorce and the desired terms for property division, child custody, support, and other relevant matters.
  • Service of Process: After filing the petition, the petitioner is responsible for serving the divorce papers to the respondent, typically through a process server or a sheriff’s deputy. The respondent has a specific period, usually 30 days, to respond to the petition. If the respondent does not respond within this time frame, the court may proceed with the divorce by default.
  • Default Judgment: If the respondent fails to file a response within the specified time, the court may enter a default judgment. This judgment typically grants the petitioner’s requested divorce terms outlined in the initial petition.
  • Hearings and Finalization: In some cases, the court may schedule a hearing to review the proposed terms of the divorce before finalizing the judgment. However, if the petitioner’s initial petition is clear and uncontested, a hearing may not be necessary. The court will then issue a final divorce decree, officially ending the marriage.

It’s essential to note that a divorce by default can occur when the respondent is unresponsive, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the divorce is uncontested. If there are significant disagreements or disputes over property division, child custody, or support, those issues may still need to be resolved by the court, even in the absence of the respondent’s participation.

If you are involved in a divorce case, whether as the petitioner or respondent, it is crucial to consult with an attorney to understand your rights and responsibilities and navigate the legal process properly. Divorce laws and procedures can vary, and an attorney can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation and the laws in Missouri.

At Raza Family Law Solutions, we practice family law effectively guiding clients through prenuptial and post nuptial agreements, dissolution of marriage, modifications of prior judgments, and resolving child custody disputes. We also help families take a different approach to divorce with mediation and collaborative work.  Contact us for a consultation at (314) 314-5505.

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