family law attorneyModern families often have complex legal needs, but Layton & Southard is here to help. Our dedicated and compassionate family law attorneys can explain your options in plain English and guide you through the process of resolving your case step by step. Our goal is to provide you with the resources you need to make the decisions that are right for your family's unique situation.

Divorce or Annulment

If you're seeking a divorce or annulment, we can help you protect your rights as you go through the process of ending your marriage. Our attorneys will advocate for an equitable property settlement to ensure you have the financial resources you need to begin the next chapter of your life. If you were a stay-at-home spouse or the lower-earning spouse, we can also assist with requests for temporary or permanent alimony.

Child Custody, Child Support, and Visitation

Whether you're divorced or never married your child's other biological parent, our legal team can handle a wide range of concerns related to child custody, child support, and visitation. This includes modifications of existing support or custody orders due to a change in income or a planned relocation for work or personal reasons.

Paternity Testing and Paternity Fraud

Under Missouri law, genetic testing alone does not establish a child's legal paternity. The parents must complete an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity or obtain a court order naming the man as the father of the child. If you are seeking to establish paternity, we can help you protect your right to be involved in your child's life.

Paternity fraud refers to cases where a woman misidentifies the biological father of her child. She may deliberately have chosen to name the wrong man, or she may only suspect that there is a possibility she has named the wrong individual as the child's father. Paternity fraud cases can present legal challenges related to child support, custody, and visitation, but our experienced attorneys can help you protect your rights throughout the process.

Adoption or Surrogacy

If you're looking to expand your family via adoption or surrogacy, we can assist with the steps that are necessary to make the arrangement legally binding. Regardless of how it was created, we believe your family deserves full protection under the law.

Our attorneys are equipped to help with relative adoption, foster care adoption, agency adoption, or international adoption. Whether you prefer an open or closed adoption, we can draft agreements that protect the interests of everyone involved.

For surrogacy cases, we can make legal arrangements that clearly outline the rights and responsibilities of the surrogate as well as the intended parents. A surrogacy that is not done in accordance with state regulations can lead to a custody battle, so it's recommended that you get an attorney involved as soon as possible.

Child Abuse

If your child has been abused by someone they trusted, we can assist in filing a civil claim to hold the abuser accountable for their actions. This claim seeks monetary damages and is separate from whatever criminal charges the state may file related to the case.

You may still have a viable civil case even if the criminal case was not successful. Criminal cases must be proved "beyond a reasonable doubt," but civil cases must only be proved by "the preponderance of the evidence." This is a lower burden of proof that can make it easier to win a favorable verdict.

Juvenile Adjudication

The juvenile justice system is different from adult courts in that its purpose is rehabilitation instead of punishment. Juvenile adjudication is the process by which the court determines if a minor has committed a crime. If your child is facing criminal charges, we can explain the court process and help you understand what options are available to minimize the impact of this mistake on their future.

Contact Our Family Law Attorneys Today

From our Cape Girardeau and Perryville offices, the team at Layton & Southard serves clients throughout Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois. Contact our office today to learn more.