Family law is a unique area of the United States legal world due to the fact that family law courts are designed to take additional consideration to the needs of a family, and not just the interpretation of the law and required outcomes. We approach divorce or family law cases with discretion and sensitivity and will look for the best outcome for our clients and their children. If there are children involved, this means that family law cases may often result in a special ruling that is intended to accommodate the safety and wellbeing of any children impacted by this situation above all. If you are preparing for a divorce, need support through adoption, or need support through any other family law matters, contact the team at Kirsch & Kirsch, LLC as soon as possible for a consultation. Speaking with one of our family law attorneys during this initial consultation is a great way to give you an understanding of the level of experience and care that you will be getting as a client of Kirsch & Kirsch, LLC, and is a great opportunity to get specific answers and insight about the process. We understand that this time in your life may be difficult or stressful, which is why we look forward to supporting you every step of the way.
Kirsch & Kirsch, LLC Family Law Practice Areas
The following are general overviews of our practice areas in Jefferson City, MO family law. Whether or not you see the specific family law issue that you need support with mentioned below, reach out to us today so that we can discuss the specific nature of your case and get a better understanding of how we can work together to get you the legal help that you need.
Going through a divorce or separation is a complicated and messy process, no matter how willing to work together each spouse may be. There are a variety of ways that a divorce can be handled in Missouri, which is a modified “no-fault” state — meaning in most cases you will not need to prove anything like abuse, cruelty, abandonment, or other marital problems in order to move forward with filing. Usually, the only requirement is that one of the spouses is a Missouri resident for 90 days, and the petitioner will file a “Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage” with the courts to initiate the process. If you believe that you will be in danger once your spouse is notified, we will help you to ensure your safety and the safety of your children.
Once filed, we will help you work through the rest of the process by identifying whether or not mediation is an appropriate approach with your spouse, and will begin working through the many details necessary to finalize the divorce, such as your assets and debts, child custody, spousal support, and more. We will either work directly with your spouse and their attorney for a collaborative divorce or will take a more aggressive approach if you or your spouse is unwilling to work together.
Child custody is divided into two types: legal, and physical. Legal custody applies to the control each custodian has over legal matters relating to the child, such as medical care, education, and more. Physical custody applies to the actual physical location of the child, and where they live. Both types of custody can be divided into either sole custody (meaning that one parent or guardian has sole control of the legal, physical, or both types of custodies), and joint custody (where both parents divide custody, although not necessarily equally).
The courts will decide custody matters based on the best interests of the children above all. The wishes of both parents will be considered, certainly, but if you and your spouse agree on a custody arrangement that the courts deem to be unsafe or unproductive for the children involved, it will be denied. We will work to find an arrangement that works for you and your children.
Child Support Payments
If you are raising a child or children under the age of 18, you may be entitled to child support from the child or children’s other parent. This is particularly true if the children you have in common spend the majority of their time at your residence. Child support in Missouri depends on a number of factors, including the number of children, the physical custody arrangements you’ve made with the other parent, and the income disparity between the two parents. It’s important to note that in most cases, child support is paid by the biological parent. Step-parents are not usually required to pay child support. Although, it is sometimes possible to obtain spousal support in these cases.
The courts will use a calculator that takes into account various factors to determine the amount of child support to be paid. If a parent refuses to pay child support or falls behind on their payments, there are legal resources that the state of Missouri allows. For instance, the courts can order that the child support payments be deducted from the paying parent’s paycheck. If the paying parent falls too far behind on support payments, they can be brought up on criminal charges.
The Missouri family law attorneys at Kirsch & Kirsch provide legal advice to parents seeking child support. Additionally, should circumstances change with regard to child custody, income, or other factors that would affect payments, our law firm can petition the courts for a modification.
After a divorce, it is common that one spouse is left in a much different financial situation once they are on their own. This is why the courts allow for spousal maintenance, otherwise known as alimony, to provide the financially-dependant spouse with a transitionary period so that they can adjust to their new life. Without the possibility of alimony, many people may feel trapped in a marriage simply to ensure that they have financial support, so knowing that this option exists can help people get out of a marriage that is otherwise dangerous, abusive, or simply beyond repair.
Spousal support is not a punitive tool, and the courts will not treat it as such. The amounts and terms of this arrangement will not change based on things like infidelity or abuse. They are based on the financial situations of both spouses, and will be agreed to with a certain payment arrangement for a specific term, and can be voided based on a variety of changes to the recipient’s financial situation, such as remarrying.
Property and Asset Division
Not all property is considered during a divorce, but we will first need to go through and identify your property as either marital property or non-marital property. Non-marital property is a property that you possessed before the marriage, and your marital finances were not used to maintain this property. Marital property is anything acquired during the marriage, and a number of other, more specific situations. Assets such as bank accounts and retirement funds are also included in this section, as well as all marital debts including credit cards, mortgages, loans, and more.
The courts will divide the property “equitably,” which is not the same as 50/50. In order to identify what an equitable division of property looks like in your marriage, the courts will want to see information about both spouses’ financial situations in order to determine the fairest division.
If you are planning to welcome a new member to your family through legal adoption, this rewarding process can be complicated and sometimes frustrating. We will help you through every step to ensure that you and the individual(s) that you are planning to adopt are able to get through this process as quickly as possible. Putting a child up for adoption is another complex and intimate process and we highly recommend working with an experienced family lawyer in Jefferson City to ensure that this entire journey goes as smoothly as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions About Family Law in MO
If you require legal advice regarding divorce, child custody disputes, support, mediation, or any other family law matter, you should contact a divorce attorney immediately. Nothing on this page should be construed as legal advice. Divorce and family law disputes can become extremely contentious and complicated. Contact our family law firm for specific advice about your case. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions from divorce and family law clients.
What are the requirements for a divorce in Missouri?
Missouri’s divorce requirements are relatively simple. For a no-fault divorce, one party must be the petitioner — the person who requests the divorce — and the other is the respondent. Because it’s a “no fault” divorce, no special rights are conferred upon either party. One or both spouses must be a Missouri resident for at least 90 days. If neither of you has been here for that long, you’ll have to wait until the 90 day period has been established. The respondent then has 30 days to answer the petition. If your spouse refuses to answer, the court can still find them in default and grant the divorce. This usually won’t be the case if there are additional matters that need to be settled, like the division of assets or debts.
What if I can’t locate my spouse when I file for divorce?
You can file in the Missouri county where you reside. If the court approves, you may be able to serve your spouse with alternative means, like certified mail, a newspaper ad, or other methods that they approve. If you can afford it, you may be able to have a private investigator or process server serve them with the papers.
How are marital assets divided in Missouri?
The courts in Missouri will attempt to divide your property fairly and equitably. In order to do this, they will require financial disclosures from both parties listing assets and debt. They will then consider factors like the spouse’s individual circumstances, their behavior, the contributions that each spouse made to the marital property, post-divorce child custody, and the amount of their non-marital property. Items that can dramatically affect the distribution of assets include real estate, investments, vehicles, boats, art, jewelry, furniture, ownership of a business, and pension funds.
How does Missouri law affect child custody?
The biological parents of a child both have the right to participate in the upbringing of the child and to share time with the child. Custody can be legal or physical. Barring special circumstances where one of the parents is unfit, the Missouri courts are reluctant to award sole physical custody to one parent over the other.
What’s the difference between physical custody and legal custody?
Physical custody refers to where your child or children will physically stay. In most cases, the children will spend time with each parent. Legal custody refers to the right of each parent to make important decisions in the child’s life. This can include things like where they will attend school, what doctors they will see, religious upbringing, and where they will go to school.
Can I move out of state with my children?
In most cases, you need to obtain the other parent’s consent to move your child out of state. The court may grant you the ability to relocate without the other parent’s permission, but that usually only occurs when the other parent’s rights have been suspended or revoked. It’s important to note that if you attempt to leave the state without following the proper legal processes, it can affect your custody rights.
Contact a Jefferson City, Missouri Family Law Attorney
The family law attorneys at the Kirsch & Kirsch law firm have been representing individuals and families in Jefferson City, Missouri for years. If you are seeking a divorce, support, custody, or you require representation for mediation, our family law attorneys will diligently represent you and protect your legal rights. Contact a Missouri family law and divorce attorney now to discuss your case.