You came together like an old-time Kansas City jazz jam session, but now it’s like you and your spouse are on opposite sides of the Missouri River. But, like the boulevard system, the process of divorce is not as scary once you get to know it -- and this article is a good place to start. Here is some introductory information to Kansas City divorce law.
What Does Getting a Divorce Mean?
In Missouri, a divorce is known as "dissolution of marriage” and will legally end your marriage or domestic partnership. Both you and your spouse will be legally single following a dissolution, meaning you both are allowed to re-marry or begin another domestic partnership. As part of dissolution, a court may also issue orders regarding division of marital property, child custody and visitation, child support, or spousal or partner support. Missouri does not allow same-sex marriages or recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Same-sex couples may register as domestic partners, however, and domestic partnerships can be ended by a judgment of dissolution.
There are also proceedings called annulments and legal separations in Kansas City. A legal separation allows you to make some of the same decisions as would be made during a divorce regarding property, support, and child custody. However, a separation does not legally end your marriage, so you would not be able to re-marry.
An annulment, on the other hand, declares that you were never legally married in the first place, so it has the same legal effect as a divorce. Reasons for an annulment could be that you were too young to legally marry, or were tricked into the marriage, among other reasons. Before beginning divorce proceedings, it is important to know which process applies to you and your spouse.
What Reasons Are Needed For a Divorce in Kansas City?
Kansas City offers a “no fault” divorce. This means you don’t need to prove your spouse did anything wrong for a court to grant a dissolution. A court may enter a divorce decree based upon showing that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” You also do not need your spouse’s permission to obtain a divorce. Although proceedings are normally easier and quicker when couples agree to the terms of a divorce, you may be able to obtain a default dissolution judgment even if your spouse does not participate in the legal proceedings.
How Do I File for Divorce in Kansas City?
You can file your action for divorce alone, or, if you and your spouse agree on all aspects of custody, visitation, support, division of property, etc., you can file together for an “uncontested dissolution.” This agreement can be filed as a Marital Settlement and Separation Agreement, and most courts will accept them as long as they are not grossly unfair.
If you don’t agree on the issues above, the divorce action is started when you file a Petition for Dissolution, which tells the court who you are, who your spouse is, where you were married, and other facts. Depending on whether you have children or not, you may also need to file a Parenting Plan discussing custody, visitation, and support issues. Before a court can make any orders or judgments in your divorce, your spouse must be legally “served” with the Petition and a Summons, which is a paper telling your spouse that the dissolution proceedings have been started. After filing and service, you may have to attend mediation or a trial to settle any contested issues.
There are four courthouses in Kansas City, but the one that handles divorce proceedings is the Family Justice Center at 625 East 26th Street. You can reach the court at (816) 474-3606.
What Happens After I File For Divorce?
Once your paperwork is filed, the court may issue temporary orders to preserve the current situation regarding marital property and child custody until the case is resolved. If you and your spouse have any minor children you may have to attend an educational class or mediation. If you and your spouse can settle the case, you can draft your own agreement and the court will generally accept it. If not, you may have to settle contested issues through mediation or a trial. Kansa City doesn’t have a waiting or “cooling off” period, so dissolution orders are final once they are signed by a judge or magistrate.
Get Help Today From a Kansas City Divorce Attorney
The process of getting a divorce can be complicated, both legally and emotionally. The assistance of an experienced divorce lawyer can help make the process easier and help ensure the outcome is fair. Protect your interests by contacting an experienced Missouri divorce attorney in the Kansas City area.