Prior to late 1960’s and early 1970’s, most states in the U. S. required a party filing for divorce prove a ground for divorce such as cruelty, insanity, abandonment, or adultery. In 1973 Missouri began removing these obstacles resulting in Missouri being considered a “modified no-fault” divorce state. Today Missouri has one general “ground” for divorce, which is as follows: “There has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage relationship, and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved.” This means that no party needs to find “fault” with the other in order to obtain a divorce.
While this means that there is no need to allege ‘fault’ in the deterioration of the marital relationship to receive a divorce, misconduct during the marriage can still be a factor in division of property, maintenance or support payments, custody of children, and attorney’s fees. Misconduct may include, among other things, extramarital affairs, financial waste, abuse of or by your spouse or abuse of drugs or alcohol. It is important when meeting with your attorney to disclose any allegations of misconduct you may have about your spouse, as well as any possible allegations your spouse may have against you.
It is important to keep in mind that while your spouse’s misconduct may loom large to you, the Judge hearing your case may not believe it is significant enough to impact the division of property, spousal support, or attorney’s fees. If you are concerned about misconduct and its impact on your case, discuss your concerns with an experienced family law attorney.