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Missouri Family Law

Missouri Family Law


Family law caters to a broad range of issues involved in marriage, divorce, child custody, support, and other related matters. It can be quite challenging, particularly for those who are not familiar with the legal system. In Missouri, family law is composed of statutes that outline rules and procedures that apply in cases related to family law matters.

This article will provide an in-depth look at Missouri family law and its various aspects. We will discuss some of the critical issues that Missourians face, the legal process, and the options available to families. We will also touch on current trends and updates to the law, so you are better equipped to handle any situation that may arise.


When it comes to divorce, Missouri is considered a “no-fault” state, meaning that neither spouse is blamed for the dissolution of the marriage involving both parties. Divorce in this state is granted based on the fact that the relationship is irretrievably broken. Grounds such as infidelity or any other fault arising of either spouse will not make a difference in the court’s decision to grant a divorce.

There are a few additional factors specific to Missouri that could impact a divorce. For example, the state will permit a legal separation of parties, which can last for a maximum of two years before converting to a divorce. In addition, Missouri family courts will often award spousal support or maintenance to help support the spouse with less income or earning capacity after the divorce. Missouri law requires the court to consider factors including the length of the marriage, the financial resources of each spouse, the skills and employability of the spouse receiving maintenance, and the need for education or training.

Child Custody

Child custody can often be the most challenging issue in a divorce, as it can be highly emotional and contentious. In Missouri, child custody is determined based on the best interests of the child. Missouri family courts will favor a custody arrangement that provides stability and continuity to the child’s life while ensuring both parents maintain a strong relationship with the child. The state also has statutory guidelines to ensure the focus is on the child’s interests, needs, and best outcomes.

Parents can work out the custody arrangements outside of court, but before it is approved, a court will conduct a thorough investigation and take aspects such as the child’s health, safety, stability of the family environment, and the parents’ abilities to provide for the child. The court can act on medical reports, testimonies, and other evidence presented before it to make its final judgment. It is important to note that a custody order is not set in stone and can be revisited by the court at any time when circumstances change for the child or parents.

Child Support

When divorcing parents cannot come to an agreement on the child’s financial responsibilities, the court will order child support based on the financial resources of both parents and the child’s needs. In Missouri, the court calculates child support using the Missouri Family Support Calculator, considering factors such as the child’s needs, both parents’ income sources, and the custody arrangement.

Missouri law requires parents to pay child support until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever is later. The state enforces child support obligations vigorously, and parents in arrears may face consequences such as wage garnishments, legal fees, interest, and even criminal charges.


Missouri has a marriage age requirement of 18 years, and parental consent is necessary for those under the age of 18. Exceptions may be made for those under the age of 15 in certain circumstances, following specific laws that allow individuals aged 15 to 17 to get married with court approval or parental consent. Valid additional requirements include a valid marriage license, an official certificate of marriage, and a ceremony performed by an authorized party.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a critical issue in Missouri family law. Victims of domestic violence may seek an order of protection, which can be obtained quickly in some situations. These protective orders can include orders prohibiting the abuser from contacting the victim, going within a certain distance of the victim’s place of residence or work, and can involve the temporary transfer of custody of any children. The domestic violence orders may add up to a year or for longer in serious situations.

Missouri law also provides the provision of a statewide database called the Missouri Automated Criminal History System (MACHS), for individuals convicted of domestic violence. This database is open to law enforcement, the prosecutor’s office, and the courts. This database aims to protect prospective domestic violence victims by keeping them and the general public aware of individuals convicted of domestic violence.


Family law in Missouri is meant to provide guidance for families and couples who are going through difficult times. Missouri’s family law system aims to provide a fair and equitable outcome for those involved, ensuring the best interests of any children involved are protected. It is important to remember that while laws define what is lawful or not, the unique details of each case make it impossible to paint a broad picture of how cases are resolved. An experienced Missouri family law attorney or legal professional can help you navigate the legal process and help ensure your rights are protected.

For just about any aspect of Missouri family laws, you should seek consultation with a MO family law attorney to learn more about your legal options, possible arguments that might be made against you and flaws in the case you make.  While it might seem costly or unfavorable to involve an attorney in family matters, the best way to ensure the completeness of the Missouri family law arrangement as well as protect your rights will be to work with the attorney.  Know that even in most divorce cases, Missouri family law attorneys are inevitable and you will need to secure one as best you can to ensure that you are prepared to deal with the divorce.

Missouri family laws and adoption

Though you will work with an adoption agency certified by the state for an adoption, you will need to have the documents from the adoption matter evaluated by a third party to ensure that they are not only complete but also free of errors.  Faulty paperwork can delay the adoption or weaken your custody matter under Missouri family laws.  If the child to be adopted still has birth parents, you will need to review the parenting plan, if any and determine if those parents have rights to regain custody.  Nominal rights might be afforded for contact and visitation and as such, you will work with the Missouri family law attorney to determine the appropriateness of this relationship and facilitate the adoption.  There are no shortcuts for a proper and legal adoption of a child under Missouri family laws and the child might be removed from the household if there is fraud in the process.

Divorce matters and MO family law

There is a limited no-fault divorce law in Missouri, which will allow some divorces to proceed without having to prove fault.  The Missouri family law attorney will help to facilitate this divorce, including the division of custody and property.  Though many critical aspects related to Missouri family law are resolved by the judge in court, working with the Missouri family law attorney to resolve a no contest divorce will save time and legal fee costs, which ultimately benefits the divorcing couple.

For contested divorces, you will almost certainly need a MO family law attorney as these will be instrumental in proving the grounds for divorce, seeking the terms you want from the divorce agreement and winning child custody under Missouri family laws.  Spousal support can also be secured and note that this is separate from the child support that is obligated by Missouri family law.

Finding a MO family law attorney

To find a MO family law attorney, you have a number of resources, some better than others.  The best resources are your state and local bar associations.  These organizations will have lawyer referral services that can direct you to a reliable MO family law attorney for a nominal fee.  You may also use Missouri family laws attorney advertising and internet searches, though you will be aware of the lack of objective sources when making any decision on seeking that MO family law attorney for consultation.  Always have the consultation and fee agreement explained to you first before accepting any services from Missouri family laws attorneys.