Person taking a ring off of their fingers while their hands rest on divorce papers.

How Do I File for Divorce?

In News by YKF Law

Hollywood makes us believe that filing for divorce is as simple as having someone hand one of the spouses a packet of paper and saying “you’ve been served.” While service is one of the steps in the divorce process, filing for divorce is much more involved. 

If you’re considering divorce and aren’t quite sure what to expect or what the process involves, keep reading. We will discuss how to file for divorce and explain each step in the process so you can know what to expect.

Basic Steps

  1. Residency Requirements

Each state has its divorce laws, but some basic steps are the same regardless of where you live. The first step to filing for divorce is ensuring you meet the residency requirements for the state you plan to file in. This ensures that the proper court hears the case and also helps prevent what is referred to as “forum shopping.” 

  1. Filing of Petition

Next in the process of filing for divorce is the filing of a divorce petition. This petition includes the names of the parties involved, the grounds for divorce, and what will be settled in the divorce process. Grounds for divorce can vary from irreconcilable differences to fault-based “grounds”. No-fault is when there is not a need to allege wrongdoing by either spouse in a divorce, whereas fault-based is when one spouse alleges there has been wrongdoing by the other spouse, which caused their marriage to end. Each state is different and not all states require fault-based pleadings.

  1. Serving the Other Spouse

Service of process, or serving the other spouse, is when one spouse notifies the other that they’ve filed the divorce petition. Due process dictates that the petitioner (who filed) must inform the respondent (who did not file) and do so properly, such as through a process server or sheriff, acceptance of service by the spouse’s attorney, or by the respondent accepting service by entering their own appearance and waiving service.. State laws vary, and serving requirements differ.

Kansas Requirements

Residency Requirements

For Kansas, the residency requirements mentioned above require that one of the parties must have lived in the state for at least 60 days before filing for divorce. So, if each spouse lives in a different state, whoever meets the residency requirements can legally file for divorce. For example, if the spouses separate and one moves to a different state and hasn’t met the residency requirements, then the spouse who has lived in the other state longer can file.

No-Fault vs. Fault-Based Divorce Filings

Kansas is among many hybrid states that allow both no-fault and fault-based divorce filings. However, there must be solid evidence that there has been misconduct in the marriage, such as an affair, physical/emotional abuse, and economic misconduct. If there is solid proof that misconduct has occurred, the property could be divided differently than in a no-fault divorce case. In some cases, where misconduct has occurred and is proven, it may impact the division of assets, especially if one spouse spent significant funds.

Service of Process

Divorce papers must be served to the respondent immediately after filing the petition with Kansas courts. You must have the papers served by Voluntary Entrance of Appearance, Sheriff’s Service, or via certified mail.

Missouri Requirements

Residency Requirements

For Missouri residency requirements, one of the parties must have lived in the state for 90 days before filing for divorce.

No-Fault vs. Fault-Based Divorce Filings

Missouri is a modified no-fault state, meaning the courts will grant a divorce if they find that the marriage is broken without having to prove misconduct. Though misconduct isn’t a reason for filing for divorce in Missouri, it may have an impact on alimony/spousal maintenance and property division.

Service of Process

When a case is initiated, a summons is issued and that summons is valid for 30 days. Missouri requires the respondent to be served by personal service by the sheriff or private or special process server, by the respondent signing a Waiver of Service and Entry of Appearance, or if they cannot be served, then service by publication.

Filing for divorce varies from state to state. However, the basic steps mentioned above are the same for each state. Filing for divorce begins with meeting residency requirements followed by filing a petition and serving the other spouse. A divorce attorney can help guide you through the entire process from start to finish.

If you are going through the divorce process and are looking for a family law attorney in Kansas (in and around the Leawood area) or a family law attorney in Kansas City and the surrounding area, The Law Office of Young, Kuhl & Frick, LLC can help. We can also help modify an existing parenting plan or help with any child custody matter. 

We’re dedicated to the practice of family law and can help guide you through any family law matter, keeping your best interests in mind. With over fifty-five years of combined legal experience, our family law firm is a team skilled in negotiation and litigation, handling family law matters from the most complex to the most straightforward.