When you find the right person to marry, you dream of a life together in which you grow old with one another. Despite the best intentions, however, a marriage can run its course. Sometimes the couple drifts apart or the relationship is beyond repair. Whatever the reason, the dissolution of a marriage can leave behind heartache and confusion.
Whether you are the one who asked for the divorce or the decision was mutual, you may have questions and concerns about what happens next. Legal aspects of a divorce can impact you for years to come; therefore, it’s important to gain sound information. A Kansas City divorce attorney can help by answering the pertinent questions.
One of the most difficult parts of ending a marriage is learning how to co-parent and share time with the children. It is mandatory for parents to come up with a parenting plan in Missouri. A plan will allow the court to see what schedule and custody that is agreeable to the parents. The court will review the parenting plan and, if the parents can’t agree, a judge can rule based on the best interests of the children.
All custody arrangements are made with the intention of doing what is in the best interests of the children. The court will deny custody if it could expose kids to unsafe conditions or situations involving violence or neglect. Possible custody outcomes in Missouri are:
- Joint legal custody (both parents make important decisions on religion, education and other aspects of childrearing)
- Joint physical custody (both parents have overnight visits)
- Sole legal custody (only one parent can make decisions regarding the children)
- Sole physical custody (only one parent has overnight visits)
If one parent has sole physical custody, for instance, the other parent will likely have visitation. Often visitation is on a set schedule, yet it can be flexible if the spouses have effective communication.
It’s possible to get an idea of what the financial contribution will be each month for child support by using the state of Missouri’s government website. The court will, however, need to approve the amount to make it final. There are many variables involved in the formula to calculate child support, including:
- The total time spent caring for the children
- The gross income of each parent
- The number of children
The court will factor in other criteria as necessary to determine the proper amount of financial contribution.
Property division can be a stressful process. In Kansas City, as in the rest of Missouri, property is divided into two categories –marital and separate. Property and debt acquired in the marriage is divided between both spouses in a divorce.
Division Of Property
Missouri divides property equitably. This doesn’t mean each spouse is entitled to half of the items. Instead, the court will assess debts and assets and distribute them according to what is fair and lawful. There are instances where separate debt is assigned, such as a school loan, even if the loan was taken out during the marriage.
Dividing possessions and assets can be tricky when separate and marital property has become commingled; therefore, seeking legal representation is advised. The assets and debts which are commonly divided include:
- Retirement assets
- Property and business investments
- All motor vehicles
- Collectible items such as baseball cards and artwork
- Household items such as furniture and clothing, among other property
- Bank accounts, stocks and bonds
- Credit card debt, among other liabilities
Splitting couples have options other than divorce, such as legal separation or annulment. It will depend on the circumstances involved as to which course is chosen. For a fault divorce, certain conditions need to exist, such as adultery, abandonment or intolerable cruelty, to terminate the marriage. Filing a no-fault divorce in Missouri requires that each person agrees to end the marriage and has mutual incompatibility grounds.
A legal separation may be an option for couples trying to reconcile as well as those that don’t believe in divorce due to religious reasons. In some ways, this action may be a trial period to divorce. The same issues that are handled in a divorce, such as child custody and spousal support, are addressed in a legal separation. The main difference between legally separating and getting a divorce is that a legal separation doesn’t dissolve the marriage.
Another way to end a marriage is by filing an annulment. In an annulment, the marriage is declared legally invalid. Some instances that meet the criteria of an invalid marriage include:
- A spouse was underage (under the age of 18 and without parental approval).
- One spouse was already legally married (bigamy).
- A person was forced, tricked or defrauded.
- One spouse was of unsound mind at the time the marriage took place (due to drugs, alcohol or lack of mental ability).
- The spouses are related (close family relatives).
The duration of a marriage is generally not a factor in whether you can obtain an annulment. In order to annul a marriage, however, evidence must be shown to the court that proves one of the above conditions exist.
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR), which may be conducted by a lawyer, is essentially mediation to work through the details of ending a marriage. The goal is to save time and money by expediting the process and avoiding a costly trial.Other benefits to ADR include having a wide range of solutions available, negotiating in a less formal environment and preserving spousal relationships.
ADR is not recommended for those dealing with a spouse that is:
- Unwilling to compromise, cooperate or stay calm
- Abusive (verbally or physically)
- Not in agreement on ending the marriage
While there are many options available, not all choices are right for you and your family. A skilled divorce lawyer can inform you on your legal options and help you protect your interests during this difficult time. Furthermore, an attorney can help you avoid costly mistakes, such as signing a contract that isn’t in your best interests.
How To Choose A Divorce Lawyer
When a partnership ends, itcan be a hard time in a person’s life that affects the whole family. With all the important decisions that need to made, it’s important to select the right attorney to represent your interests.
When choosing a lawyer, hire one with experience representing families in Kansas City and with a concentration in family law – specifically divorce. While you may have developed a relationship with a general practice attorney, it’s wise to enlist the services of a lawyer that understands the nuances of divorce law.