Divorce Attorneys in Springfield, Missouri
At the Piatchek Law Firm, our attorneys will fight for you, your children, and your property. We understand that getting a divorce can be one of the most emotionally trying experiences of your life, with long-term financial and personal repercussions. We believe that everyone has a right to happiness, and if you and your spouse are no longer able to enjoy life together, we will help you dissolve the marriage as quickly as possible while protecting your interests and fighting for your rights.
Our attorneys are devoted to guiding you through the often difficult and confusing divorce process. We will protect your legal rights throughout the process of dissolving the marriage, so that you are able to start this new phase of your life in the best possible personal and financial position.
Missouri Divorce Law
Missouri is a “modified no-fault divorce state. This means that a spouse is not required to provide a reason as to why he or she is seeking to dissolve the marriage; however, evidence of a spouse’s conduct can be introduced into evidence, and can be considered by the judge and effect the outcome of just about any aspect of the case, including without limitation alimony or maintenance for a spouse, custody, parenting plans, child support, or attorney fees.
The party seeking a divorce (i.e., the petitioner) must meet several residential requirements before a Missouri court will accept the case. Those requirements are:
- One spouse must be a Missouri resident for at least 90 days before the divorce proceeding. However, if the spouse is in the armed forces and currently stationed in Missouri, this stipulation does not apply.
- Before the court grants a divorce decree, 30 days must have passed since the petition has been filed or since the other spouse (i.e., responder) received the petit
We Handle Divorces of All Shapes and Sizes
We handle divorce cases of all types – from families with very little financial matters at stake and no custody issues, to families with significant assets and complicated child custody and maintenance/alimony issues.
For families with substantial assets or income or families who own a business, we have substantial experience working with complex legal and financial issues such as business entities and business valuation. We fully understand the intricacies of business law and how many factors can affect business valuation, income, and property settlement in a divorce. Our divorce litigation team is committed to providing the highest quality of legal services in the most cost-effective and straightforward manner.
Starting a Divorce
Usually you will meet with an attorney to discuss your case generally, and you will fill out a questionnaire which provides your attorney with all of the necessary information for creating the Petition for Divorce, as well as many other related documents.
If there are any children who are younger than 18, or who are still in school and still receiving some sort of parental support, their names must be included on the legal paperwork. The Court will require this information to make decisions regarding child custody and child support.
Once the petitioner files the Petition for dissolution of marriage, the respondent (the other spouse) must receive legal notice of the case having been filed. Unless the respondent has agreed to voluntarily accept service of the Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage and has consented to jurisdiction (such as is done in a cooperative divorce), Missouri law requires that the respondent be served copies of the divorce documents:
- From a process server, or
- From the sheriff of the county where he or she lives/works.
Once the respondent receives the petition for divorce, he or she needs to complete an “Answer.” The answer must include an acknowledgment of receipt of the petition and a recognition that the court has authority over the divorce proceedings. In addition, the answer can include the respondent’s official reply to the allegations contained in the divorce petition, and can contain a request for a specific type of relief (e.g., child support or alimony). Also, if the respondent disagrees with any of the statements included in the petition, he or she can address these discrepancies in the answer.
During the course of the divorce process, each party will likely be required to disclose information about their respective assets, and if the parties do not eventually agree to settlement terms, the Court would eventually decide all issues related to asset division, custody, and support. For the record, the vast majority of cases will settle at some point before trial, though a small percentage will go all the way to trial, which takes longer and costs more, but may be what is necessary.
Finally, not only can we help with various types of divorce, but can assist you with many concepts that may come up during a divorce, such as:
- Business Asset Valuation and Division
- Domestic Violence
- Enforcement Orders
- Equitable Distribution
- High Net Worth Divorce
- Extremely Contested Divorces
- Parental Alienation
- Property Division
- Military Divorce
- Spousal Maintenance
Do I need a divorce attorney??
Although some people are tempted to handle it themselves, either because they believe the case is simple, or because the parties seem to agree on all issues, there are many local rules that must be followed, and this can be a confusing and time consuming undertaking for someone trying to do it themselves. If your case is very simple, our experience is that our attorneys will probably have it done quicker than if you did it yourself. Additionally, a divorce proceeding and all of the accompanying paperwork presents many opportunities to make mistakes, and our attorneys are very skilled in such matters.
When the divorce is contested, there are numerous issues that must be addressed (e.g., child support, division of property and debt, etc.). If the couple is unable to reach an agreement, seeking assistance from an experienced divorce attorney is recommended. Some couples ask about using the same attorney, however, ethically, an attorney can only represent one spouse and cannot generally represent both parties.
What to expect during the divorce process
On average, Dissolution of Marriage cases can range from taking just a few months, all the way to several years if complicated and hotly contested. Once familiar with your case, your attorney can give a more accurate estimate of what kind of time frame should be expected.
There are many factors that go into considering property division, including when the property was acquired, whose name the property is in, whether it is “marital” or “separate”, where the property came from originally, and how the nature or ownership of the property may have changed over time, among other considerations.
If the parties eventually reach settlement, a Marital Settlement Agreement will be drafted and signed by both parties. This agreement will outline every aspect of the parties’ agreement with respect to assets and financial matters. The judge will generally approve such agreements if they are not “unconscionable”. If the parties do not reach settlement, and the divorce goes to trial, a judge will decide all such issues and render a judgment, in the judge’s sole discretion under the
Generally, each party will file a “Parenting Plan” in which the parent states how he or she feels major issues involving the child(ren) should be dealt with. Typical parenting plans include provisions about visitation, custody, summer vacation, child support, moving away as well as specifics about picking-up and delivering the child(ren). Additional expenses, such as mediation and health insurance, are also included in this plan.
If the parties reach settlement on all such matters, the parties can agree on a Joint Parenting Plan that the judge will usually incorporate in the divorce judgement, assuming such agreement is reasonable and in the best interests of the children.
How much does a divorce in Missouri cost?
The costs associated with a Divorce in Missouri typically consist of at least two items including:
- Attorney’s fees.
- Filing fees.
Although the fees for filing are consistent, attorney fees vary.
There also may be fees involved in hiring experts, or preparing reports, if your case requires, and these costs can vary greatly.
Other Types of Divorces in Missouri
Cooperative Divorce (Uncontested Divorce)
An cooperative divorce (sometimes called an uncontested divorce, no fault divorce, simple divorce, quick divorce, etc.) is a divorce when both parties are in agreement about all aspects of the divorce, including the following matters:
- Both parties agree that a divorce is necessary.
- Both parties are willing to cooperate with one another.
- Both parties agree on how all property should be divided.
- Both parties agree on child, child support, and custody issues.
- Both parties desire an alternative to a typical long, expensive divorce.
A cooperative divorce generally is much quicker than a typical divorce, costs far less, and often may only involve one attorney rather than two (part of why it costs less).
Publication divorce is a method to get divorce by publishing notice in the local newspaper, when you legitimately can’t locate your spouse. This method of divorce can be very tricky, and there are rules associated with how it must be done. Additionally, this method should only be used if you have diligently attempted to locate your spouse, and you truly cannot find them.
You should never publish a divorce when you have not truly, honestly made a good faith effort to locate your spouse. In addition, you should never use publication divorce simply because you don’t feel like seeing your spouse or talking to him/her.
Finally, there are special considerations and some limitations that may be involved in property distribution and custody establishment in a publication divorce.
Modifications of Child Support or Custody Arrangements
After a divorce is finalized, the parties may need to occasionally change or modify support or custody arrangements relating to children or an ex spouse. This will require filing a “modification”, which is a type of family law case. We can help you in modifying the terms of your current child support, custody, visitation or alimony arrangement.
The vast majority of modifications are contested, as the parties are not in agreement about the changes. However, there are occasional cooperative modification cases in which both parties agree, and we can help in either event.
Why Choose the Divorce Lawyers at the Piatchek Law Firm
The experienced divorce attorneys at the Piatchek Law Firm are dedicated to helping men and women in Missouri as they move through one of the most difficult life circumstances, the dissolution of a marriage. We understand the emotional impact and long-term financial consequences resulting from divorce. The attorneys at Piatchek Law Firm will work closely with you, finding solutions to help you accomplish your objectives in an efficient, cost-effective manner. To speak with one of our experienced divorce attorneys, contact the Piatchek Law Firm to schedule your initial consultation. To make an appointment call 417-242-5066 today.