To begin the process of divorce in Kansas or dissolution of marriage in Missouri, you must file a petition stating what relief you are seeking from the court, as well as the grounds to terminate the marriage. "Grounds for divorce" are the reasons you are asking the court to grant you a divorce. Kansas and Missouri are two of many states that are "modified no-fault states. States have shifted toward allowing no-fault divorce, which means that the person who is asking to be granted a divorce does not need to prove that their spouse was at fault for the breakdown of the marriage.
In Kansas, a divorce may be granted based on the following grounds:
- Failure to perform a marital obligation; or
- Mental illness or incapacity.
In Missouri, a divorce/dissolution may be granted on the basis that the marriage is "irretrievably broken" and there is no likelihood the relationship can be saved. However, marital fault (including dissipation of marital assets, improperly increasing marital debt, and extramarital affairs) can be factors considered by the court in deciding other issues including maintenance (alimony) and the division of marital property.
In Missouri, If your spouse denies that the marriage is irretrievably broken, you will have to prove one of the following:
- Your spouse committed adultery and you cannot live with your spouse;
- Your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot live with your spouse;
- Your spouse has abandoned you for at least six continuous months before the dissolution was filed;
- You and your spouse have agreed to live separately and have done so for at least 12 months prior to the dissolution being filed; or
- You and your spouse have lived separately for at least 24 months prior to the dissolution being filed.
Incompatibility is considered a "no-fault" basis for petitioning a court for divorce. This means that it is not necessary to prove that the other spouse committed adultery, extreme cruelty, abandonment, physical abuse, or any other "fault" basis, even though that conduct may have occurred. Instead of demonstrating that the other party was at fault, the person petitioning the court for a divorce simply states that the parties should be divorced.
The details of why the divorce should be granted do not need to be included in a petition for divorce. It will only make the divorce case more difficult. Alleging incompatibility can make the divorce process go more smoothly because you do not need to prove that your spouse did anything wrong.
Fault Divorce Grounds
Claiming that fault is the basis for a divorce to be granted is rarely advisable. Fault is usually hard to prove, will increase the cost for the divorce, and will rarely affect the divorce result. To be granted a divorce based on fault, you must prove that your spouse committed acts or omissions that caused the need to file for divorce.
Alleging mental illness or incapacity may come with procedural hurdles such as examination by the spouse who suffers from a mental illness or incapacity by medical professionals. Additionally, if the illness or incapacity is expected to be temporary, a judge may refuse to grant the divorce.
If you and your spouse can agree on all issues related to the marriage, your divorce will be considered uncontested. This is common if there are only a few assets and liabilities to be divided, when spouses have been separated a long time and have already divided all their assets and liabilities, or when the couple has no children.
Even if you and your spouse agree that your marriage should end, it is important to consult an experienced attorney to ensure that all of the issues related to the marriage are properly handled. It is easy to miss important issues that can create problems for you in the future.
Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney to Assist You
If you have questions about filing for divorce in Kansas or Missouri, contact Rundberg Law, LLC. Ron Rundberg is an experienced divorce lawyer who can help answer all your questions.