ANSWERS TO YOUR DIVORCE QUESTIONS

Divorce law varies from state to state. If you are a Missouri resident and are seeking a divorce, you probably have a great many questions. Many of these are easily answered. However, a qualified divorce attorney can help you with more complicated matters.

Q: HOW ARE PROPERTY AND DEBTS DIVIDED BY THE COURT?

A: Missouri is an equitable distribution state. This means that the court will divide marital assets in a way that is thought to be fair. Do not make the mistake of believing that equitable is synonymous with equal. Fair, according to the court, could mean that one spouse receives much more than the other.

Debt that is incurred during the marriage or for marital expenses is generally divided equally. This is generally the case even if one spouse has a credit card that is solely in his or her name.

Q: CAN A DIVORCING COUPLE DIVIDE ASSETS WITHOUT A JUDGE’S RULING?

A: A divorcing couple that can come to terms with the division of assets on their own can write a separation agreement. This is then presented to the court for approval. In most cases, the judge will allow the terms of the separation agreement.

Q: HOW IS CHILD SUPPORT CALCULATED?

The income, support costs, and percent of custody from both parents is stated on Form No. 14 Child Support Amount Calculation Worksheet. This worksheet is used to help the courts determine how much, if any, the non-custodial parent must pay to the custodial parent. If either parent disagrees with the amount set forth by the court they can ask the court to adjust the amount. The parent must show just cause in requesting an increase or decrease.

Q: MY EX-SPOUSE RECENTLY REMARRIED. WILL I BE ABLE TO LOWER THE AMOUNT OF CHILD SUPPORT I PAY BASED ON THE INCOME OF HER NEW SPOUSE?

The non-custodial parent can ask the court to review a child support order if the custodial parent experiences a change in financial situation. This could be due to remarriage, inheritance, change in careers, or a variety of factors. It is ultimately up to the court to decide whether or not the child support amount is decreased.

Q: HOW DOES THE COURT CALCULATE ALIMONY IN A MISSOURI DIVORCE?

Alimony, also known as maintenance, is a payment that is made from one spouse to the other in order to provide both with a livelihood that is similar to that they experienced while married. Alimony is generally only provided when one member is unable to maintain financial expenses. There is no specific calculation for alimony payments in Missouri. Judges take this issue on a case-by-case basis. However, in many cases, alimony payments are modifiable, meaning that they can be altered as the spouse who is being supported gains education or training in order to gain employment.

Q: SHOULD I CONSIDER FAMILY LAW MEDIATION IN MY CURRENT DIVORCE CASE?

Divorce introduces couples to new terminology that they had never before encountered. Family law mediation occurs when the separating couple meets face-to-face in order to decide how to manage the family in the new post-divorce reality. Couples may use mediation to discuss a plan on how to raise children, including possibilities regarding custody. Other factors, such as ownership of pets or treasured possessions may be discussed in mediation. This can be helpful before reaching a settlement. However, not all families benefit from mediation. In cases of abuse, mediation is not recommended. Likewise, some couples who simply cannot reach an agreement may wish to move directly to settlement. Family law mediators may meet with each person individually in order to decide if mediation is a good option.

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