This is one of the most commonly asked questions by many divorce clients. Under Missouri law the divorce or “dissolution of marriage” must be on file at least 30 days before a divorce can be granted. A petition is not filed within the meaning of Missouri Supreme Court Rule 53.01 unless a summons has been issued, a verified entry of appearance is filed, or an attorney files an entry of appearance on behalf of the nonfiling party. This means that your divorce is not final until at least 30 days after your spouse has been served, your spouse has signed a waiver of service, or his/her attorney has filed a motion with the Court.
I have had divorces as short as 31 days and as long as four years. From a practical standpoint the amount of property to be divided, the type of property to be divided, custody, child support, and maintenance are all factors which go into determining how long a divorce will take. Dividing retirement assets and valuing businesses are huge factors that can make a divorce last much longer than 31 days. Whether the case is uncontested or contested is also a major factor. Contested cases always take longer.
One of the other major issues at play is the county in which you file for divorce. Pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Operating Rule 17 50% of all domestic relations cases are to be disposed of within four months of filing, 90% within ten months of filing, and 95% within fourteen months of filing. The purpose of the rule is to provide litigants with time frames during which they, with reasonable certainty, can expect to have their case decided by the court or otherwise resolved. Some counties in Missouri are in compliance with these time standards and some are not. According to the Office of State Courts Administrator the average length of time a domestic relations case is disposed of in Boone and Callaway County is 85 days. This is in stark contrast to St. Louis City which is 780 days or Clay County which is 228 days. The average length of time for a domestic relations case to be resolved in the State of Missouri is 200 days or approximately 6 months.
County—length of time to dispose of a domestic case Audrain-154 days Boone-86 days Callaway-83 days Howard-88 days Randolph-104 days Cooper-150 days Cole-74 days