When it comes to divorce, understanding the grounds on which a marriage can be dissolved is crucial. In the State of Missouri, specific legal grounds must be established to initiate the divorce process. This comprehensive guide will delve into the various grounds for divorce recognized in Missouri, along with an explanation of each ground and its implications. Additionally, we will explore essential legal aspects and provide key phrases to optimize your understanding of this area of the law.

1. No-Fault Divorce:

Missouri is a no-fault divorce state, which means that neither spouse is required to prove fault or misconduct to obtain a divorce. Under this ground, a spouse can file for divorce without attributing blame to the other party. The most common reason cited in no-fault divorces is "irreconcilable differences" or an "irretrievable breakdown" of the marriage. In essence, the marriage has broken down beyond repair, and reconciliation is not possible.

2. Fault-Based Divorce:

Although Missouri primarily follows a no-fault divorce system, fault-based grounds still exist. These grounds include:

- Adultery: If one spouse engages in extramarital affairs, the other spouse can file for divorce based on adultery.

- Abandonment: If one spouse deserts the other for at least six continuous months without just cause, it may be considered as abandonment grounds for divorce.

- Cruel and Abusive Treatment: Divorce can be sought if one spouse exhibits cruel and abusive behavior, endangering the physical or emotional well-being of the other.

- Substance Abuse: Persistent drug or alcohol abuse that significantly impairs the marriage can be a valid ground for divorce.

- Imprisonment: If one spouse is convicted of a felony and sentenced to imprisonment for a year or more, the other spouse may file for divorce.

3. Separation:

Missouri recognizes a "separation" as a ground for divorce if the spouses have lived separately and apart for at least 24 consecutive months without cohabitation. This ground does not require fault or misconduct, but it necessitates a clear period of separation.


Understanding the grounds for divorce in Missouri is essential for anyone considering ending their marriage. While Missouri primarily adopts a no-fault divorce system, fault-based grounds still exist. By adhering to the legal grounds and divorce process in Missouri, couples can navigate the complexities of divorce with greater ease. Always consult with an experienced family law attorney to ensure that your rights are protected and your divorce proceeds smoothly.