Divorce - Standard Dissolution of Marriage


Standard Dissolution of Marriage applies to most couples. If any one of the following criteria applies to a married couple seeking divorce, they must file a standard dissolution of marriage:

  • you had children born to or adopted by you, or the wife is now pregnant;
  • you own real estate;
  • you have been married 8 or more years;
  • your joint earnings are $35,000 or more annually;
  • either spouse earns more than $20,000 annually,
  • you have marital property valued in excess of $10,000.

A standard dissolution of marriage requires a $503.00 in filing fees ($314 to file the case; $189 for an answer) payable to the Circuit Clerk when the case is filed at the Circuit Clerk’s office. A petition and judgment for dissolution of marriage must be filed, and there are no forms available. Only two forms are available at this site that relate to filing a standard dissolution of marriage: an Entry of Appearance form and an Affidavit of Military Service. If you are unable to afford the filing fee, you may also complete the form entitled “Application to Sue or Defend as an Indigent Person.” Both of these forms must be signed in front of a Notary Public.

To learn more about how to prepare a petition and judgment for dissolution of marriage, consult your attorney or contact the Legal Self-Help Center in the Law Library at the Madison County Courthouse, phone 618-296-4472, or http://madisoncountycircuitcourt.org/selfhelp/ . If you do not have an attorney, or cannot afford one, information is available from the law library in the basement of the courthouse.

A dissolution of marriage (commonly referred to as a divorce) is a serious legal step which should only be taken after careful and considerable thought. If you are considering such a proceeding, you should note the following:

It is in the best interests of each of the parties to consult attorneys regarding the dissolution of marriage. You should not rely exclusively on the information at this site; it is intended only to provide the necessary case filing forms and, in the instance of simplified joint dissolutions, as a general guide for self- representation. Marriage counseling services are available throughout the St. Louis region.

If you are eligible to use the joint simplified proceeding, you will lose any right you may have to maintenance (commonly known as alimony). Once you lose the right to maintenance in a legal proceeding, you can never again obtain maintenance from your former spouse.

A judgment of dissolution of marriage (divorce) permanently settles all financial rights arising out of your marriage, including the right to property held in the name of your spouse. A judgment entered in a dissolution proceeding is final. You will not be able to appeal from the judgment unless you challenge it within thirty (30) days of entry or unless you file a proper pleading within two (2) years and can prove fraud, duress, or other legally sufficient grounds to set aside a judgment as provided by law.

To learn more about how to prepare a petition and judgment for dissolution of marriage, consult your attorney. If you do not have an attorney, or cannot afford one, information is available from the Self-Help Center (http://madisoncountycircuitcourt.org/selfhelp/ ) at the law library in the basement of the Madison County Courthouse.

If you have children under the age of 18, you are required to enroll in the Children First Program before your judgment can be entered. To sign up for this program, call 618-251-6214. To learn more about Children First, see link to Divorcing Parents of Minors.

You may file your petition and all pleadings Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, in Room 118 of Circuit Clerk’s office (Room 118 on the first floor of the Madison County Courthouse). After you file your petition, you will be advised when you will have to see a judge.

** Circuit Clerk employees may answer your general questions, but are prohibited from assisting in preparation of documents or giving advice **