If you are considering divorce or already on your way to a divorce in Missouri, you may be feeling overwhelmed and wondering where to even begin. No doubt you are feeling at least some emotional challenges as you move into a post-marriage life, and you may be dealing with financial and life questions such as where you will now live, how you will pay rents or mortgages, who will take care of the kids and so on. Add to that the confusing world of divorce law, and things can quickly become mentally paralyzing as you try to keep track of your life while simply putting one foot in front of the other as you work towards a brighter tomorrow. But the good news is that affordable legal help is available from The Law Store, including Free First AdviceTM on the divorce legal issues you are facing. In the meantime here is a simple divorce checklist to help you keep track of the big picture in your divorce.
In your divorce, you and your spouse are going to need to determine how to divide up all of the property that you shared, even if you considered a piece of property to clearly belong to you only. In Missouri, all property that is acquired with funds earned during the marriage is considered marital property, even if only one spouse worked. Marital property is subject to equitable division, meaning it should be fairly split between the parties. Property that belonged to each party prior to the marriage or which was given by gift to one spouse is considered separate property and each spouse should leave the marriage with that same property. Spouses can work together to divide their community property in an equitable manner, and if they do not, the court will make this decision.
Maintenance / Alimony
Sometimes called alimony or spousal support in other states, maintenance is the ongoing payments one spouse might be ordered to pay the other spouse following the divorce in order to help them financially as they adjust to a new life. Maintenance is not ordered in Missouri as often as it is in other states, and a spouse (which can be a husband or wife) will have to show that there is a financial need for maintenance and present evidence for why it should be set at a certain level.
Missouri courts will award custody to one (individual) or both (joint) parents, and this could be a separate determination for legal custody (the right to make important decisions on the child’s behalf) and physical custody (the right to have the child live with you). Missouri courts will make these determinations based on what set-up would serve the best interests of the children. Missouri courts prefer to keep both parents involved in a child’s life after divorce.
If physical custody is awarded individually to one parent, the other parent may seek to have visitation with the child. The custodial parent is of course always free to let the other parent visit, but that parent cannot prevent the non-custodial parent from doing so if there is a court-ordered visitation.
In addition to any maintenance ordered, a parent may need to pay child support on behalf of the children if the other parent has custody, even if there is a shared custody situation. Child support is generally based on guidelines which factor in the number of children and the incomes of the parents. Child support will usually be required to be paid until the child reaches the age of 18 or older.
If you or another family member is in danger of domestic violence from the other spouse, the courts will address this situation, potentially through a restraining order. A restraining order can be used to prevent a spouse from coming in contact with you or family or from having access to your personal property. Speak with an attorney immediately about obtaining a restraining order.
Talk to an Attorney Today About Your Divorce Matter
The family law attorneys at The Law Store are here to help answer any questions about the divorce process and give you the advice you need to help win the outcome you desire. Our Free First AdviceTM program allows you to consult with one of our family law attorneys free of charge to discuss your concerns and lay out your options. Book an appointment today by dropping by The Law Store, calling us, or scheduling a service online.