Missouri Divorce Basics
If you’re headed for a divorce, you are likely unsure about what the future holds. Understanding the laws here in Missouri can help you prepare for the divorce itself, as well as life after divorce. Here are some basic things you need to know.
Obviously, marital property and debt is going to have to be divided up. In Missouri, the goal is a fair split of assets, including retirement accounts and the like– although not necessarily an even split. The process is pretty cut and dry: the court will determine which assets are not designated as part of the property to be divided, known as separate property (generally what was owned by each individual prior to the marriage or inherited by one party during the marriage). It will designate a fair value on any marital property,(that which was obtained during the marriage) and will try to figure out a reasonable way to divide the value of those marital assets. Factors included in the deliberation over what is a fair settlement include:
- The circumstances of each party post-divorce;
- The best arrangements for the family home when children are involved;
- The behavior of each party during the marriage;
- The impacts of financial payments or awards on taxes;
- Other issues relevant to the situation.
Custody determinations are always made based on the best interests of the children. Physical custody relates to the living arrangements of minor children, while legal custody designates the ability to make core decisions—such as those related to health, education, and religion, to name a few– related to minor children. It is not uncommon for one parent to be awarded physical custody even though legal custody is shared equally. Visitation for the non-custodial parent is specific to each individual case. The parties are required to submit a parenting plan proposing the parameters of visitation. Sometimes one parent may have a history of violence or substance abuse, or other issues that could signal harm to the children. The court may order supervised visitation, or no visitation at all, in such situations. In limited circumstances, grandparents may be awarded visitation rights as well.
Child and/or Spousal Support
Child support is determined based on each partner’s income and how that plays out according to a schedule of payment guidelines. Spousal support—commonly referred to as alimony—is based on a number of factors, from earnings to the length of marriage, contributions of each spouse to the family (including non-economic contributions) and the skills/education of each individual. In Missouri, the conduct of each individual during the marriage can also impact support.
Getting it Right
These issues can be emotionally draining, not to mention complex. That’s why having an experienced Springfield divorce attorney advocating for the best possible outcomes for you is essential going forward. At Courtney & Mills, we are committed to making your divorce as smooth as possible, and life after divorce as satisfying as possible. Schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.