Helping Missouri Families Move Forward
Divorce subjects many families to sometimes overwhelming emotional and financial stress. With the right legal guidance you can satisfy your legal requirements and give yourself a smoother path to a fresh start and a new chapter in your life. At the Marler Law Group, LLC, we treat each case with care so that you will have what you need to begin the journey forward.
Choosing the right attorney can make a world of difference in your case. We have years of experience working closely with clients to understand their individual needs and guide them through the difficult divorce process. We understand that every case is different and that each requires an individualized approach to get the best results possible for you.
We offer a full range of legal services related to divorce and marital dissolution, including:
- Modifications of divorce decrees
- Orders of protection
- Child orders of protection
- Adult abuse orders
- Division of property, including complex financial and business valuation issues
- Custody agreements
- Awards of child support
- Awards of maintenance (alimony)
- Attorneys’ fees
- Marital torts (domestic assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, wrongful death)
Missouri is a “modified no-fault” state, meaning that in order to obtain a divorce, the parties must only plead irreconcilable differences. However, conduct (such as an affair or financial fraud) is relevant to issues such as the distribution of property, and spousal support (also known as alimony or maintenance). Also relevant are incidents of domestic violence, injury, assault or harm caused by one spouse to the other.
As an “equitable distribution” state, Missouri takes into account a number of factors in deciding how to distribute property, including determining what is non-marital property, what is marital debt, and the financial needs of the parties. This does not necessarily mean the property will be divided equally.
Our goal for you is a divorce settlement that is fair and ensures you receive your share of all marital assets. We will first attempt to negotiate a favorable settlement on your behalf that will provide a timely and cost-efficient solution. If a favorable settlement not reached through negotiation, we will actively and aggressively fight for your interests in court.
You can be confident that our extensive divorce litigation experience and strong preparation skills add up to give you a solid legal team representing you in court. From dividing up family businesses to small or high-value assets, we will fight for what is yours.
Protecting Your Children in Divorce Proceedings
Cases that involve children require special care and attention. Our knowledge of Missouri’s child custody and child support statutes runs deep and we put our knowledge to work resolving child custody and child support issues, and work hard to minimize the proceedings’ effects on your children.
Our Approach to Divorce Cases
The divorce process often involves the unwinding of a close economic partnership and the severing of a relationship once founded on love and commitment. Virtually nothing is as troubling as the prospect of losing time with one’s children. Clients going through these painful events deserve patient, attentive, and competent legal help.
Our approach is to do everything possible to put you in the best position to negotiate a settlement or present a contested divorce, custody or child support case in court. We accomplish this through extensive knowledge of divorce law, and scrupulous attention to the facts, legal issues, and your objectives and concerns.
Requirements for a Divorce to be Granted in Missouri
For a Missouri court to have authority to grant a divorce, either the wife or the husband must have lived in the State of Missouri for at least ninety days.
If both parties agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken, then the court will grant the divorce. The vast majority of divorces in Missouri are granted on the ground that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
If one side denies that the marriage is irretrievably broken, then the party seeking the divorce must demonstrate specific reasons why the marriage should be dissolved, such as:
(a) that the responding spouse committed adultery
(b) that the responding spouse has behaved in such a way that the filing spouse cannot reasonably be expected to live with him or her
(c) that the responding spouse abandoned the filing spouse for a period of six months
(d) that the parties have voluntarily separated, by mutual agreement, for a period of one year, or
(e) that more than two years have elapsed since the filing spouse left the responding spouse.
The Divorce Process
After a petition for divorce is filed with the court, the non-filing spouse must be formally “served” with a summons by a sheriff or process server. Following service of process, the non-filing spouse has 30 days to file a written answer to the petition. In every case – whether contested divorce or non-contested divorce – a minimum of 30 days must elapse before the court may grant a dissolution.
If the parties have children, each party must submit, either separately or, if they can come to an agreement, jointly, a proposed parenting plan. A parenting plan is a document that describes in detail how issues concerning the children (such as custody, visitation, holidays and vacations, transportation, child support, health insurance and medical expenses) will be addressed.
Court rules also require each parent to attend a parenting class. The purpose of the class is to make sure each parent is aware of the trauma children experience as a result of divorce, and to give parents tools to help ease their children’s emotional pain.
If there are contested issues between the parties, there may be a period of discovery. Discovery is a general term that refers to the various tools a lawyer can use to make the opposing party and third parties answer questions under oath, or produce documents in their possession. A common use of discovery in divorce cases is to obtain complete financial disclosure if one spouse believes the other has hidden money or assets.
The vast majority of divorce cases are settled rather than decided by a judge. Settlement allows the parties to control the outcome of their case, and avoid the extra expense that necessarily accompanies a fully contested case. Even if a settlement is not ultimately reached, there will be some negotiations in virtually every case, and the parties may be required by the court to attempt mediation. Mediation is a settlement negotiation process where a neutral third party attempts to formulate a viable resolution of the case, and persuade the parties to agree to compromise.
In a typical case, a non-contested hearing or contested trial is held six months to a year after the case is filed. A marriage is only officially ended after a judge has heard evidence and signed a written decree of dissolution.