Filing for a divorce can be an emotionally challenging experience for all parties involved. It becomes even more challenging when one spouse refuses to cooperate. It is critical to understand that you have plenty of options available to you if you ever find yourself in this scenario. A skilled Missouri divorce lawyer can often be the solution to understanding how to successfully proceed with your divorce case.

Stange Law Firm has an experienced and well-versed team of Springfield, MO, divorce attorneys ready to assist you in all matters pertaining to, but not limited to, your divorce case. It is not uncommon for spouses to refuse to sign divorce papers in Missouri. Some spouses make the mistake of thinking that if they ignore or push off the divorce papers, that they may be able to delay or complicate the divorce process.

Refusing the divorce or ignoring it altogether will ultimately not stop the divorce. Under Missouri law, the spouse’s consent is not required. Missouri is a no-fault state, which means that a spouse does not need permission or consent from the other to file for a divorce. Therefore, it is entirely possible for the divorce to proceed without a response from the refusing spouse.

Can a spouse refuse a divorce in Missouri?

Default Divorce

The state of Missouri allows for what is called a default divorce. A default divorce is issued by a judge and ultimately is the judge granting the petitioning spouse his or her request of the divorce without the participation of the other spouse.

Before you can reach a default divorce, you have to give the respondent spouse at least thirty days to provide a written response to the initial divorce petition. This allows the respondent time to indicate their intention to participate in the divorce proceeding and any objections they may have. If the spouse does not respond in the thirty-day window, then the petitioning spouse has the legal right to request a default and inquiry hearing before a judge.

The respondent spouse is issued a copy of the default and inquiry hearing, informing them of the hearing’s occurrence and offering them another opportunity to show up and present their side of the case. If the respondent spouse does not respond to the default and inquiry hearing, then in most cases, the judge will favor granting the petitioning spouse the divorce they filed for. This is considered a default divorce.

Contested Divorce

A contested divorce can be another way in which the divorce process can unfold. In a contested divorce, the spouses typically cannot come to an agreement on critical issues that must be resolved to obtain the divorce. These issues can include child custody, child support, alimony, division of assets, or debt allocation. These types of divorces usually involve multiple court hearings, and they can be costly and lengthy.

It is important to note that if the spouse is being difficult or is intentionally not willing to come to an agreement in an attempt to thwart the divorce proceedings, it ultimately will not stop the divorce.


Q: Do Both Parties Have to Agree to a Divorce in Missouri?

A: Both parties do not have to agree to a divorce under Missouri law. The spouse who is filing for divorce will not be forced to stay in the marriage against their wishes. Missouri is a no-fault divorce state, which means that a spouse doesn’t need the permission or consent of the other to file and obtain a divorce. This also means that either spouse can file for divorce without any specific reason needed. The filing spouse does not have to prove the fault of the other spouse.

Q: What Happens if Your Spouse Doesn’t Respond to Divorce Papers in Missouri?

A: If one spouse is served divorce papers, that spouse is given thirty days to respond. If a written response is not received in thirty days, the petitioning spouse has the legal right to request to schedule a default and inquiry hearing. A copy of the default and inquiry hearing will be sent to the non-responsive spouse, informing them of the hearing. If the spouse continues to be unresponsive, the judge will often issue a default judgment and grant the petitioning spouse the divorce.

Q: Does Adultery Affect Divorce in Missouri?

A: As Missouri is a no-fault state, petitioning spouses do not have to prove that their spouse was unfaithful in the marriage. Divorce can be granted without evidence of adultery. However, if there was adultery in the marriage, it can have financial implications on the divorce agreement. The financial consequences of adultery can impact the alimony awarded, the way in which the assets are divided, child support, attorney’s fees, and other related financial arrangements.

Q: Can You Date While Legally Separated in Missouri?

A: Legally speaking, it is generally acceptable to date while legally separated in Missouri. It should be noted that while legally separated, the marriage is still legally intact. Therefore, if you date while you are legally separated, and then you do end up following through with a divorce, there could be a case of adultery against you, and that could lead to unwanted financial consequences. Once again, Missouri is a no-fault state, so there are very minimal laws against infidelity or adultery in general.

Qualified Legal Counsel

It can be complicated and overwhelming to navigate through the aspects of the law while you’re separated or going through a divorce. It is important that you protect your rights and assets. These cases can become even more complex if there are dependents involved, such as children. Also, if there are a significant amount of assets involved in the separation or divorce, it is extremely important that you engage the adequate legal representation necessary for you.

Stange Law Firm can provide help and resources for anyone struggling through a divorce or separation. Our law firm understands that if you are facing any of these legal battles, it can often feel like you are fighting a long and tough battle. Our firm was founded with the intention of providing men and women with the support and resources they need to ensure they understand their rights and options during these pressing situations.