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Marriage Laws in Missouri

A new marriage is cause for celebration. However, along with the new relationship status also come new duties and obligations. The specifics of those obligations change from state to state. This article will help you understand both marriage laws and legal duties in Missouri.

Requirements for a Valid Marriage

Fiancées must go to the local county courthouse and get a marriage license in advance of the marriage ceremony. Both people will need to bring government-issued identification and a social security card. Fees vary by county. Although Missouri residents once had to wait three days before the license was issued, the court will now issue to the license immediately. Once the couple has the license, they must marry within thirty days, or the license will expire.

Support During Marriage

Both parents have a legal duty to financially support their children. Both spouses, generally speaking, have a financial duty to support one another, depending upon the circumstances of the marriage.

Property Ownership during Marriage

Property owned before marriage is known as separate property. This property, income from it (rental, etc.), and the proceeds from the sale of this property will remain the property of the one spouse only. Separate property also includes gifts to one spouse only and inheritances.

Marital property is property acquired after marriage from income earned after marriage. It does not matter if this property is titled in one spouse's name or both. If the spouses divorce, a court will divide marital property in a way it believes to be fair. This is called equitable distribution , and it does not necessarily mean that property will be evenly split.

Statute Missouri Revised Statutes, Title XXX, Domestic Relations, Chapter 451
Invalid Marriages

There are a few situations when a marriage will not be valid, even if a license was issued. They are:

  • Bigamy: One spouse was already married at the time of the subsequent marriage.
  • Underage: A spouse was less than eighteen years of age, and did not have the required parental or court consent.
  • Closely Related: Missouri does not allow marriage between first cousins or family members of closer relation.
  • Lack of Capacity: A spouse did not have the mental or physical capacity to enter into marriage. This may be due to mental or physical disability, or senility.
  • Impotence: One spouse is unable to engage in sexual relations, and the condition is incurable. This will only invalidate the marriage if the other spouse did not know of the issue before marriage.
  • Duress or Fraud: One spouse was coerced into marriage against their will, or was tricked into the marriage.
  • If the marriage is invalid for any of the above reasons, annulment is the usual recourse.
Name Change

If you take your spouse's name, you should inform:

  • The federal government. This is for social security and employment purposes. You should also get a new passport;
  • Your employer and your spouse's employer, for tax identification purposes;
  • Your local voting registrar;
  • Utility companies, credit cards, and any other business which may have an account in your name; and
  • The motor vehicles section of the Missouri Department of Revenue. You will get a new driver's license for a small fee.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Marriage Laws in Missouri Related Resources

Questions About Marriage Laws? An Attorney Can Help

Planning can help ensure a happy and successful marriage. Whether you need a prenuptial agreement, or want to ensure that your loved ones receive the appropriate inheritance, a lawyer can help you manage your affairs effectively. Contact an experienced Missouri family law attorney today.

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