Ending a marriage is often a challenging situation in many ways. The common emotional struggles of a divorce may be obvious, but divorce also has a habit of causing many other frustrations and difficulties. One of the most important early decisions to make when you are sure it is time to end your marriage is how to go about ending it. There are several legal options for ending your marriage. It’s important to know your options in Kansas City, MO so you can approach the end of your marital contract with more confidence.

A Kansas City, MO family law attorney is the best resource if you are unsure how to approach the ending of your marriage. You could potentially expedite your divorce in a way that suits you and your spouse best when you take time to seek legal advice before initiating divorce proceedings. Standard divorce is the most common but not the only option for handling this situation. Missouri state law allows married couples to end their marriages in different ways, but divorcing couples may only qualify for one or two of these options.


The standard method for ending a marital contract in Kansas City, MO is divorce. A divorce case proceeds much like any civil case, and both sides have the opportunity to provide evidence and testimony, call witnesses, and challenge each other in litigation or alternative dispute resolution. The end result of a divorce process is a divorce decree, which formalizes the end of the marital contract and establishes rules, rights, and responsibilities for the divorced couple going forward.

Divorce is a fairly straightforward process easily made into a complex affair by the case’s individual factors. Typically, the number of variables on which a divorcing couple can agree during their divorce proceedings is the main determining factor in the time required to reach a conclusion to a divorce. Many couples opt for mediation, which tends to allow divorcing couples to reach more agreeable conclusions to their marriages while retaining control over the direction of their proceedings.

Legal Separation

One of the most common alternatives to standard divorce in Kansas City, MO is a legal separation. This process allows a couple to handle most of the issues they would need to address in a typical divorce, but it does not end with the marital contract’s dissolution. This option is generally preferable for older divorcing couples who have no intention of remarrying or have practical reasons for remaining legally married, such as tax obligations, medical conditions, or employment benefits that apply to both spouses.

Legal separation offers a couple a way to retain some of the benefits of remaining legally married without requiring them to stay living together. If you are unsure whether a standard divorce applies best to your situation, contact our firm. It’s a good idea to consult an experienced Kansas City, MO divorce attorney about whether legal separation may be a preferable option for you.


A divorce decree officially ends a marital contract in the eyes of the law, but there is a legal acknowledgment that the marriage was legal and existed. An annulment is a legal process for not only ending a marriage but legally declaring the marriage was invalid and never existed in the first place. This is an important distinction and can dramatically impact child custody, alimony, and other long-term results from the division.

Annulment is reserved for very specific cases. In Missouri, it is only possible to apply for annulment under certain circumstances, including:

  • Family members may not marry one another in Missouri. If a marriage is discovered to have violated Missouri’s kinship laws for marriage, either spouse can apply for annulment to have the record of the incestuous marriage declared invalid.
  • If one spouse was compelled to marry the other under duress or threat of harm, they did not legally consent to the marriage. This violates the legal prerequisites for marriage; a marriage performed under duress is eligible for annulment in Kansas City, MO.
  • In the US, a person may only be legally married to one other person at a time. Suppose a married spouse learns their spouse was already married, neglected to finalize a divorce, or actively concealed an existing marriage. In that case, it’s possible to apply for annulment on the grounds of bigamy.
  • Lack of capacity. If one spouse discovers the other has an incurable mental illness, senility, or incurable impotence, these may all qualify as grounds for annulment due to lack of capacity.
  • Underage spouses. In Missouri, no one under the age of 16 may marry without parental permission. If it is discovered that a spouse was married before their 16th birthday, this could constitute grounds for annulment if it resulted from concealment or fraud.

An annulment is a complex process, but it actually tends to require less time to secure an annulment than to have a standard divorce finalized.

Joint Petition Divorce

Many states offer summary dissolution processes or other expedited forms of divorce when both spouses meet certain criteria. Generally, if divorcing spouses can agree on all of the terms of their divorce without mediation or litigation, the process is easier. The spouses can provide a judge with their own divorce proposal and greatly expedite their divorce proceedings. In special situations, particularly those involving spouses who have only been married for a brief time, have no children, and own minimal or no shared property, spouses can apply for a joint petition divorce.

Find Legal Counsel for Specific Advice About Your Situation

These are the most commonly used methods for ending marriages in the state of Missouri. Each comes with its own unique benefits and drawbacks, and it is possible for more than one of these options to be available in your current situation. The best thing to do when you are uncertain of how to proceed with your divorce is to meet with a Kansas City, MO divorce attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can help you determine which route is best for protecting your interests once your marriage has ended and then prepare you for the divorce proceedings to come.