The decision to get a divorce is often a hard decision. You should be prepared to discuss issues such as child custody, child support, division of assets and debts and spousal maintenance when you come to your appointment.
Once the parties reach an agreement on the terms of their divorce, a settlement agreement will be prepared and presented to the court for approval. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, a trial will be held and the judge or commissioner will make a decision after reviewing the evidence. If either party is unhappy with the decision, they may be able to appeal it to a higher court.
The best interest of the child is the guiding legal principle in deciding custody and parenting time. Missouri law has established a list of factors the court considers when determining what is in a child’s best interest. A parenting plan will be established which outlines a visitation schedule throughout the school year, summer, holidays and breaks, designates where a child will attend school, specifies which parent will maintain health insurance and allocates how expenses will be paid.
The purpose of child support is to ensure a child’s needs are met when the parents have ended their relationship. A child support worksheet, often referred to as a Form 14, will be prepared to determine the presumed child support amount. Child support is calculated based on a variety of factors including each parent’s income, cost of child care, cost of insurance and the amount of parenting time the paying parent has with the child. If the parents agree on an amount, their agreement will be presented to the court for approval.
Paternity actions are filed to establish a father’s legal rights when a child is born to unmarried parents. Genetic testing can be done to confirm paternity if the issue is contested. Once paternity is legally established, a parenting plan will be created which addresses custody, parenting time, child support and payment of expenses.
Modifications of Prior Judgments
Parties may need to return to court to have their judgment modified when circumstances have changed. The legal standard to have the judgment modified varies depending on what is being changed. Modifications are not automatically granted merely because one side has asked for one. Knowing the facts which existed when the prior judgment was entered is crucial to being able to decide if a modification should be pursued.
Orders of Protection
An order of protection can be sought to protect someone from abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment and stalking. It is very important for a person to know how to leave a relationship safely. It may be wise to speak with an advocate at a local domestic violence shelter if you are concerned about your safety. For more information on how to locate an area shelter, click here.