Can I refuse to agree to a divorce? This is a common question we get in our office. It’s understandable that one of you may feel angry, caught by surprise or that the other party is giving up too easily on the marriage.
However, the short answer to this question in Missouri is that so long as one of you testifies that the marriage is irretrievably broken you are going to end up divorced.
Under Missouri Revised Statutes Section 452.320.2 one of you may deny that your marriage is irretrievably broken. The court then must make a finding of whether the marriage is irretrievably broken and either divorce you or dismiss the petition to get divorced. In this situation, there is almost always one spouse willing to testify about why they don’t want to stay married. Because of this, I have yet to see any judge dismiss a divorce petition.
Under Section 452.320.2 the court also has the option of continuing any divorce hearing from one to six months later and suggesting that the parties seek counseling. No court can require counseling as a condition precedent to a divorce.
Again, I also have yet to see a judge continue any divorce hearing or suggest counseling. Most judges feel that if the parties were going to do counseling, they would have done so before spending money to go to court to try to get divorced.
So, if you or your spouse want a divorce the short answer is, you’re going to get one so long as you file the appropriate paperwork with the court and allege that your marriage is irretrievably broken.