Divorce Proceedings

Divorce Proceedings

St. Louis County Divorce Proceedings are a complex process that require the help of an experienced St Louis County divorce lawyer. Depending on the circumstances of your case, there may be other issues involved with the marriage dissolution.

These issues include property and financial resources, custody (whether joint or sole) and child support. Eventually the court will issue a final Judgment that divides assets and financial resources, awards custody and determines whether spousal or child support is appropriate.

The Petition for Dissolution of Marriage

The divorce process starts with the filing of legal paperwork that clearly states a request for a dissolution of marriage. If children are involved, the petition will also include a proposed parenting plan. If there are any other issues that must be settled, these will be listed as well.

The Petition for Dissolution will also request the Court to divide up marital assets and debts. Missouri is a no-fault state, so a divorce can be granted if the court finds that the marriage has irretrievably broken and that there is no chance of saving it.

Once the Petition is filed, a copy must be served on the Respondent by the sheriff or a private process server. This is referred to as service of process and is one of the most important steps in a divorce case. If this step is not performed correctly, it can seriously delay the proceedings or even cause them to be dismissed entirely.

Service of Process

The next step in the divorce process is for the spouses to serve their spouse with the legal documents that were filed with the court. This is called “service of process.” The spouses may hand-deliver the papers to the respondent at their home, place of employment or other address listed on their legal documents.

Depending on the circumstances, the spouses may also choose to have the documents published in order to locate their spouse. This is a last resort and the spouse must be active in avoiding service in order for this to work.

If the spouses have children, they will have to submit a parenting plan with the court within 30 days of being served with the divorce papers. This will cover topics such as custody, visitation, child support and more. Having dedicated and vigilant representation by your side will help protect your rights throughout this time. If you and your spouse cannot reach a settlement, a trial will be scheduled.


Once the case has been filed, parties and their attorneys begin a process of discovery. This may include formally requesting documents from the other side (a process called subpoenas) or more informally, as agreed upon by the attorneys or the clients themselves. Often, there are also mandatory discovery conferences or court-ordered mediation to resolve the remaining issues in the case.

During this phase, each spouse will work to understand what the other party is seeking in the divorce and come up with a reasonable settlement offer. If the parties are unable to reach a agreement, they will proceed toward trial.

After a judge has granted the divorce, the former spouses must sign a final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. This document will outline the terms of the property division, custody and visitation, spousal support, and any other provisions set out in the agreement. If one party fails to comply with the terms of the Judgment, they can be subject to sanctions or even criminal prosecution for contempt of court.


The court will hear evidence in the case to determine whether or not the marriage can be dissolved. The judge may also decide on issues such as property and debt division, custody, visitation and support.

If the spouses have children, the judges will usually try to award both parents joint legal and physical custody unless this would not be in the best interests of the child. Spouses also must submit a Parenting Plan.

Spouses have the option to participate in mediation prior to going to trial. This can save a significant amount of time and money. During this process, a neutral third party helps the couple reach an agreement on their divorce settlement.

The judge may also award either or both spouses alimony (spousal support). The court will consider each spouse’s income, the value of their assets and properties, the grounds for divorce, as well as considerations for the spouses’ living situations. The court will use various charts to determine the appropriate alimony amounts.