The answer is a typical lawyer answer: it depends.

No less than the United States Supreme Court held more than 50 years ago that the right to due process that is enshrined in our Constitution requires that if someone does not live in the state where a court case has been filed, they must have enough contact with the state (vaguely defined as “minimum contacts”) so it is reasonable for them to be required to appear there.

In a divorce case, virtually always the test is whether the person ever lived during this marriage in the state. In addition to looking at whether the person actually lived here (as opposed to just visiting), the court will look at: ownership of property located in Missouri, payment of personal or real estate taxes here, registration to vote here, any license issued by Missouri to the person or any claim of residency on any other official paperwork.

If you are served with divorce papers that were filed in Missouri and you feel that you do not have minimum contacts here, it is best to state that claim before a judgment imposing financial obligations on you (spousal support, child support, a money judgment requiring you to pay money to your spouse or be responsible for debts or taking away property from you) is entered. A divorce entered in Missouri may be registered in another state and collection action taken against you like garnishment of your wages or bank accounts.

It may be possible for a case to be bifurcated and parenting time with children decided in the state where they live and the financial issues decided in Missouri but this is uncommon and really requires the assistance of an experienced family law attorney.

There are situations where no state hs jurisdiction (I once handled a case where the [people got married in Luxemburg and intended to return to Missouri but the marriage did not survive an extended honeymoon in Europe and one spouse came back to live in Missouri and my client returned to live in Idaho and as his spouse had no minimum contacts with Idaho and he wanted the divorce as well, we proceeded in Missouri).

An important point is that a person who is sued for divorce in Missouri but who has no minimum contacts with this state may accept jurisdiction here. The downside of doing so is that once the objection to personal jurisdiction has been waived, that bell cannot be unrung and if there are matters that extend beyond the divorce such as spousal or child support, future returns to the state may be required. Further, at preset the Missouri Supreme Court expressly forbids a witness appearing for a contested hearing by telephone or virtually.