Just as every marriage is unique, so is every divorce. Your breakup might be sad but amicable, or it might be an ugly, contentious battle. Whatever your situation, you will need an experienced family law attorney who will listen to you, understand what’s most important, and fight to get that for you. We understand that this is an emotional time, and we are here to provide a clear-headed approach to your divorce that will leave you with what you need.
Missouri Dissolution of Marriage
In Missouri, the official term for divorce is dissolution of marriage, and it involves ending the legal union, dividing property, determining custody of any children, and awarding spousal support, if applicable. When both parties have sound legal advice, the dissolution can usually be accomplished with no need for a court proceeding. However, if there are disputes that cannot be resolved by negotiation, a trial might be necessary. In general, dissolution of marriage involves the following:
- Dividing marital property. Before property can be divided, it must be declared either marital or non-marital. Only marital property will be divided. Marital property is any property obtained throughout the duration of the marriage. Non-marital or separate property is property that belongs to only one spouse. These might be assets that were obtained by one party before the marriage or property that was gifted exclusively to one spouse. Often, property that is brought to the marriage becomes commingled with marital property and must be divided out. The division of property is a complicated process that requires legal advice and assistance.
- Determining child custody. If you have children, a parenting plan is a necessary part of the divorce agreement. Deciding on custody arrangements is often the most difficult part of a divorce. Even in an amicable divorce where joint custody is the goal, it is important that the details are worked out and that the parenting plan is specific and workable. In a situation where one parent wants to prevent the other parent from getting custody, you want to make sure you have a skilled lawyer who will fight for your and your children’s best interests.
- Awarding child support. Depending on the custody arrangement and the income disparity between the parties, child support can become a major sticking point in a divorce. Our experienced team understands the cost of raising a child and will negotiate for an agreement that is enforceable and fair to our client.
Once you have come to terms with the reality that your marriage is over, do not hesitate to find the best legal representation you can afford. When you get off on the right foot, the entire process will be much smoother than if you wait until there is conflict to hire an attorney.
What About Spousal Support?
What we used to call alimony is now called spousal maintenance or spousal support. In situations where one spouse is financially dependent on the other, the higher income-earner may be ordered to continue to support the dependent spouse after the divorce. Unlike child support, there is no formula for determining the amount of spousal support in Missouri, so a case must be made by the divorcing parties and their attorneys for or against spousal support.
A common scenario for spousal maintenance is when one parent is a full-time caregiver to the children and is not employed outside of the home, or when one parent lacks the skills necessary to earn a livable wage. Negotiating spousal support is a complicated process requiring an experienced legal team advocating for you. Whether you feel you are owed support or don’t think you should have to pay it, our team will fight for you.
Learn How We Can Help
From our Cape Girardeau and Perryville offices, the team at Layton & Southard serves clients throughout Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois. If you are considering divorce, hoping to revise a custody or child support agreement, or have a spousal maintenance matter to clear up, our team will get to work for you. Contact our office today to learn how we can help.