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I want to file for divorce without involving lawyers. What is the first step to start the process in the state of Missouri?

Springfield, MO |

My husband and I have discussed all details of the divorce. We have agreed on all details from child custody to splitting assets. I just need help with how to start the process. Do I need certain paper work and if so how do I get it without using a lawyer?

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Attorney answers 3


First I would advise you to speak with an attorney to prepare the necessary documents to file for the divorce. I know that is not what you wanted to hear. The Missouri Courts have a website designed to provide information and resources for those involved in family law matters in the state of Missouri. The information, tools and resources available through this site are not intended to take the place of legal advice and there is no guarantee that using the information and/or resources will get the results you want. The website is:

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Curt Perri Bogen

Curt Perri Bogen


Do they ever learn?


I agree with my colleague. Missouri, where I went to law school, has a number of online resources available to you. There are lots of forms online. However, it is no different than the commercial for H&R Block, the tax preparation firm, with the smart wife holding up the box for the software with forms and purchased by the dumb husband, when they have questions to ask. "Hello, Box?" "Box, can you answer my question?"
If you want it done right, hire local counsel. If you want to take your chances, you need to remember that the court will not advise you if you have made a mistake. The job of the Court and the Judge is to hear the case and behave impartially-- and by doing so, they cannot give you legal advice as if they represent you as your own lawyer-- because they cannot represent you. They are the neutral party hearing the case. Don't be penny smart and pound foolish. Good luck.

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I understand wanting to file on your own especially if you are in agreement on everything. The first thing you will want to do is get your settlement agreement in writing between you and your spouse. Like the other attorneys already stated, there are forms you can go online and get but you have to know which ones to use. I would suggest you go to your county's court website and look at the forms for divorce in that county. Counties require different forms to be filed at different times. Usually you would need to file a petition, a confidential information sheet, a statement of income and expenses, a statement of marital and non-marital assets and debts, and a parenting plan in addition to your settlement agreement. The parenting plan will lay out who get the kids at what times, who is responsible for what and what each party is required to do as far as expenses and such regarding the children. You can also put some of that in your settlement agreement. You will also need to file any financial statements with your petition as well as pay stubs or w-2 forms to prove your income. All the property in your names needs to be listed (house, car, etc) and all the assets and debts need to be listed. (accounts, credit cards, etc) Do not leave anything out!! You do not need to list all personal property unless you are, or could be in the future, in dispute about who gets it.

If one of you is asking for maintenance, you must do it during the divorce as well. For the children, you will need to fill out a Form 14 so as to see how much child support is needed in your case. This will be submitted along with the other forms named above.
If you want your name restored to another name, you should also include that in your petition during the divorce.

As you can see, there is a lot to file and you want to make sure you do everything right. Since you have children, I would recommend using a family law attorney to help you in your divorce. You may be in agreement now, but a lot of things can happen between now and the time your divorce is final and even after your divorce is final where you may not agree on everything. It would be good to protect yourself and your children in case it becomes rocky later.

Good luck with everything!
Saundra J. McDowell

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