The Basic Law for Divorce in St Louis
At its simplest form, a divorce will divide the assets and debts of the parties and then legally terminate the marriage so that they can both move on with their lives. This process can be extremely stressful. Everything that you have been working towards is at stake. Here’s a very basic rundown of the law and a description of the Court process for a divorce in St Louis.
Missouri splits the marital property 50/50, right? Basically, yes. Whatever you had before the marriage is yours, whatever you acquired during the marriage is split. But in practice it is significantly more complicated. First of all, not all property acquired during the marriage is marital. There are some that are considered separate despite the fact that it was received while the parties were married. See http://stlnextgenlaw.com/inheritance-and-divorce-in-missouri/
Also, some property considered separate can be transmuted into marital property. This happens when the separate property (for instance a bank account) is retitled or commingled with marital funds and used in a way that benefits the marriage.
Debts are the same as property. Debts acquired before the marriage are typically considered separate and debts incurred during the marriage are marital. Another frequently litigated issue here is that of contribution. That is to say that one party contributed disproportionately more to the debt or asset and should be entitled to a greater percentage than the other party.
Missouri is more strict with alimony than it once was. It used to be fairly typical for the wife to receive a monthly maintenance from her husband until remarriage. Nowadays it is neither automatic nor long-term. Missouri views alimony as necessary when one party cannot support themselves. Even then, it is only allowed in an amount and time frame necessary to give the other spouse the chance to get back onto their feet and secure gainful employment. There are many factors used in determining how much, or if any, maintenance will be awarded: the length of the marriage, the reason why one party is incapable of supporting themselves (i.e. was it because they stayed home with the kids?), and their reasonable outlook for gainful employment.
Those are the most basic issues of law in a simple divorce. Information regarding child support/ custody is analyzed on this site separately.
What to Expect in Court
How long does a divorce in St Louis take? What happens in Court? Do I have to show up? Clients have a lot of questions when they are beginning their divorce case. It’s common for people who have not had a lot of experience with the Court system. Understanding what to expect will go a long way to reduce your anxiety in your divorce.
First of all, you can expect a noncontested divorce without children to take around 2 months. If it is a contested divorce with no child issues, you can expect it to take around 6 months to a year. Heavily contested cases or cases with allegations of child abuse or neglect can take 1-2 years to resolve.
The first thing that happens is someone files a Petition. This kick starts the case. The other party is served. Hopefully at this point they both have attorneys. All of the required Court paperwork is submitted, such as the Income and Expense Report, Statement of Assets and Debts, Parenting Plan, and any needed Pretrial Motions.
At this point the negotiation begins between the two parties’ attorneys. Unlike criminal law, this is rarely a winner takes all situation. It might take a while to work through all of the issues, but in 90% of the cases, the parties will reach a settlement. In the other 10% of the cases, a trial will be held. The Judge typically acts as the jury in a divorce trial. He or she will hear the evidence, witnesses, and testimony of the spouses, and then decide upon distribution of property, debts, and custody and support of the children.
Your Next Step
If you have more questions about obtaining a divorce in St Louis, contact my office for a free consultation. My firm is accepting cases in St Louis, Jefferson County, and Saint Charles Counties. You may contact me via telephone at 314-782-3500 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org