Springfield Divorce Attorney
“Til death do you part,” they say, but that’s far from the norm anymore. In the real world, 40-50% of first marriages in the U.S. end in divorce, and the rate of divorce among subsequent marriages is considerably higher. In Springfield, eight percent of the population over 15 are currently divorced. Marital law in Missouri recognizes that the end of the marriage is not necessarily anybody’s fault; sometimes, marriages just break down and can’t be fixed. If your marriage isn’t working and you’ve decided it’s time to dissolve the union, the Springfield divorce attorneys at Courtney & Mills are here to guide you through the process and make sure you are protected and represented at every step.
Missouri divorce process
The process for divorce in Missouri begins with filing a petition in court. If both spouses agree on getting a divorce AND agree on how to divide marital property, handle custody of the kids, etc., then they can file a joint petition for an uncontested or agreed divorce. Otherwise, one person files the petition and serves a copy on the other spouse, who submits an answer to the petition with the court.
To file, at least one spouse must be a resident of the state or stationed in Missouri on active duty military status for at least 90 days. Missouri has a no-fault ground for divorce, so it is only necessary to demonstrate that the marriage has become “irretrievably broken.” It is not required to prove a spouse committed adultery or other bad acts to get a divorce unless the other spouse doesn’t agree to the divorce. Marital misconduct can also play a role in determining matters such as spousal support, child custody or the division of property.
After the initial papers have been filed, both spouses provide each other with written financial disclosures of assets and debts. If they have children, the parents should work on creating a parenting plan and completing the child support worksheet.
If the parties can’t agree on how to iron out the issues in their divorce, these matters will need to be litigated and decided by the judge after a hearing. Our seasoned divorce lawyers can work with you and your spouse to reach a practical agreement wherever possible or represent you in court if necessary to finalize your divorce and obtain court orders regarding the property division, child custody, child support and spousal support. These matters are discussed briefly below, or click on a topic for more detail.
Property Division – Missouri law gives the judge in your divorce the discretion to divide marital property and debts however the court deems would be just. A 50-50 split is not required, and many factors go into the judge’s decision of how to divide the marital estate. Our role is to make sure all marital property is properly included and accurately valued for a fair distribution. We understand the factors looked at by the court, and we’ll argue for a result that meets your needs and interests when it comes to the distribution of marital property and debt.
Child Custody – The court has to decide whether custody of the children will be given solely to one parent or shared jointly by both in some fashion. The judge further decides how one or both parents exercise legal custody as well as physical custody over the children. Family law judges make decisions they believe to be in the children’s best interests, and they have a number of factors to consider in that regard. We’ll prepare and present a persuasive case that argues for a custody arrangement that meets your needs and is demonstrably within the best interests of your kids.
Child Support – The Missouri child support guidelines will determine how much support the noncustodial parent should pay to the parent with primary custody. The guidelines take into account factors such as the parents’ incomes, costs of health insurance and child care, the number of children to be supported and the amount of time the children spend with each parent. The guidelines amount is presumed to be correct, but the judge has the authority to deviate from the guidelines if convinced the amount is unjust or unreasonable. We’ll help you calculate child support and present a strong, persuasive case if you need to argue for or against a deviation from the guidelines.
Spousal Support – Alimony, or spousal maintenance as it is known in Missouri, is not awarded automatically in every divorce, nor is it always the husband who is ordered to pay. A party requesting support must first prove certain facts to qualify for maintenance, after which the judge considers a host of factors to decide the amount and duration of any award. Whether seeking or opposing spousal support in your divorce case, count on Courtney & Mills to advocate for you skillfully, based on years of experience and a thorough knowledge of the Missouri factors for maintenance.
Missouri Divorce FAQs
Whether you are the party filing for divorce or have unexpectedly been served with divorce papers by your spouse, it is natural to have questions about the process as well as what comes after. Below, find answers to some frequently asked questions we often hear at Courtney & Mills as we assist Springfield individuals and couples through the Missouri divorce process. If you have other questions or need immediate assistance in a Springfield divorce matter, call our office at 417-869-9888.
Can we get an agreed divorce if we have children?
Yes. You can get an agreed divorce whether or not you have minor children and whether or not you have marital property to divide. In any event, though, you have to be in agreement. In other words, the divorce needs to be uncontested. This doesn’t just mean that you agree on getting a divorce, but you also can’t disagree on matters such as child custody and support. If you have children and are filing a joint petition for dissolution of marriage, you’ll also need to submit a parenting plan and complete the child support worksheet. We can help you keep this process on track so that an uncontested divorce stays that way and concludes successfully in your best interests and the best interests of your kids.
Can court orders be modified after the divorce if things later change?
Yes, but the change needs to be substantial and continuing in such a way that the original order is unreasonable or no longer makes sense. To modify an order of child support, you’ll need a court order if the court originally ordered the support. If the Family Support Division (FSD) ordered the support, then the FSD can modify it as well. A change in a parent’s income or employment, or a change in the child’s expenses, could possibly justify modification of a support order.
Spousal support (aka spousal maintenance or alimony) is usually made to last until an agreed-upon date for termination or until death of the payor or remarriage of the recipient. Spousal support is typically made modifiable or nonmodifiable in the original order. If the order is modifiable, it could theoretically be raised, lowered, terminated early, or continued past the date for termination set out in the original agreement
Can a parent move and take the kids, so long as the move is in-state and not too far away from the other parent?
Any change of the child’s principal residence that lasts for more than 90 days is a “relocation” that can’t be done without first following Missouri state law. This process requires notifying the other parent in writing and providing them with the new address, the date of the move, the reason for the move, and a proposed revised custody or visitation schedule. This notice should also let the other parent know they have the right to oppose the move within 30 days of the notice, provided they have a good-faith reason to challenge the relocation. If the other parent doesn’t object, the move can take place after 60 days.
We can represent you if you are seeking or opposing a relocation, including helping you revise the custody schedule and parenting plan or advocating for you in court.
How much will I have to pay (or how much will I get) in child support?
You’ll need to complete the Child Support Amount Calculation Worksheet to determine how much child support will be owed. This paperwork is required in a contested or uncontested divorce where there are minor children who will need to be supported. The amount of child support will depend on the incomes of both parents, any court-ordered spousal maintenance, the number of children, costs of health insurance and work-related child care, and the number of overnights the children spend with each parent. The amount calculated is presumed to be correct, but either parent could challenge it, and the judge could be convinced to deviate from the presumed amount in the children’s best interests.
Does child support still get ordered if the parents share parenting time equally?
The purpose of child support is to equalize the income of both households for the benefit of the children. Therefore, even if parenting time is equal, if one parent earns significantly more than the other, support might still be due.
Does fault matter in a Missouri divorce?
Missouri only recognizes no-fault divorce (irretrievable breakdown of the marriage). You do not have to prove fault, such as adultery, abandonment or abuse, to dissolve a marriage in Missouri. However, fault, or misconduct as it is known in Missouri divorce law, can impact matters in a divorce such as child custody, child support, and property division. Be prepared to share details regarding any potential misconduct with your attorney at the outset of your divorce, so you can be educated on what to expect as your divorce plays out.
How long does a divorce take?
An agreed divorce can be completed as soon as 30 days from the date it is filed. A contested divorce will take considerably longer to work out. If a trial is needed, it can take a year or more to complete the divorce, depending on the county where the divorce is filed.
Can one spouse be made to pay the other spouse’s attorney fees for the divorce?
Under Missouri law, the court can order one party to pay the attorney’s fees for the other party, so long as the fees are reasonable. Factors that can influence the judge’s decision to make this order or not include the financial resources of both parties and their ability to pay attorney’s fees, in addition to either party’s fault or misconduct during the marriage as well as their conduct during the divorce proceedings.
Personal Service and Professional Representation in Springfield Divorce Matters
For knowledgeable guidance, practical advice and passionate advocacy in your Springfield divorce, call Courtney & Mills at 417-869-9888 or reach out to us online to arrange a consultation.