Springfield Family Law Attorneys
Family law matters are some of the most emotional, intimate and personal legal issues you will deal with. That’s okay, but with so much at stake, making legal decisions based solely on emotions might not turn out in your best interests. The Springfield family attorneys at Courtney & Mills are here to help you process your feelings and come to rational decisions that make the most sense for you and your family. We approach every client with compassion and understanding, but also with the knowledge and skill needed to give you the right advice and high-quality representation to achieve your goals.
Call on Courtney & Mills in Springfield for help with any of the following family law matters:
Adoption – Helping families grow through adoption is as richly rewarding for us as family law attorneys as it is for the children and parents we represent. Our practice focuses primarily in the areas of relative and stepparent adoption, but we are available to consult with you on any type of adoption matter you might be considering.
Guardianship – A guardian steps in and takes on the responsibility of caring for a minor whose parents have died or been declared unfit, or are otherwise unwilling or unavailable to care for their children. A guardian might also take on this role for an adult with developmental disabilities or incapacity due to accident or illness. Within the scope of the guardianship laid out by the court, guardians provide care and make decisions the wards cannot make on their own, protecting them from making disastrous financial decisions or entering into contracts that don’t make sense. Our Springfield guardianship attorneys help craft appropriate and practical guardianships that meet the needs of the ward.
Legal Separation – Couples might split up yet not be candidates for divorce due to religious, financial or other reasons. We represent parties in legal separation proceedings to set them on a firm footing regarding matters such as child custody and support.
Divorce – Nearly half of all marriages in the U.S. end in divorce, and Springfield, Missouri, is no different. When married couples decide to call it quits, we provide helpful guidance and effective advocacy to make sure they come out the other side with their rights and interests intact regarding child custody, child support, spousal support and the division of property. We handle the full range of marital dissolution matters in Missouri, from uncontested agreed divorces to high-conflict custody matters and complex marital estates.
Child Custody and Support – Custody and child support issues don’t only arise in the context of a divorce. Even couples who were never married will still need to get court orders put in place to enforce their rights to custody and support and make it clear how parenting decisions are made or shared. Our family law practice includes child custody disputes and child support issues in paternity cases and other legal proceedings.
Modification of Decrees – Parenting plans and support orders can be modified if there has been a substantial change in circumstances that justifies the modification. These decrees act as court orders and cannot be changed without going to court and having the judge modify the order. When you and your former spouse agree on a modification, we’ll draft or review a proposed order and submit it to the court for approval. We’ll also serve as your advocate in court if you are seeking or opposing a modification contested by either party.
Family law counselors, negotiators, litigators
From your initial consultation with our firm, we’ll let you know what we think and provide you with honest, practical advice you can use in resolving your family law matter. We prefer to educate our clients and explain why we do things, so they are engaged in their representation and can make the best choices for themselves and their families. In conflict situations, we proceed from the philosophy that preparing for court is the best way to approach a fair and successful settlement. If a trial is necessary to get the best result, our skills in the courtroom enable us to provide effective representation at any stage.
Missouri Family Law FAQs
As attorneys with decades of experience handling divorce and other family law matters in Springfield, the lawyers at Courtney & Mills are familiar with the questions foremost on people’s minds when contemplating divorce or dealing with other family law issues. Below are answers to some of the questions we hear most often in our family law practice. If you have additional questions or need help with a Missouri divorce, child custody dispute, adoption, guardianship or other family law matters, call our office in Springfield at 417-869-9888 or toll-free at 888-844-7518. You can also contact us online, and we’ll be in touch to consult with you on your needs.
When can a marriage be annulled?
Unlike a divorce, which is the legal dissolution of a marriage, an annulment is a judicial finding that a marriage was never valid to begin with. An annulment, therefore, is only available under limited grounds in specific circumstances. Grounds for annulment in Missouri include:
- Incest – A marriage between certain family members, including first cousins, is void and can be annulled.
- Bigamy – A person cannot legally marry if he or she is currently legally married to someone else.
- Lack of capacity – A marriage can be annulled if a spouse lacked the mental capacity to consent to the marriage or lacked the physical ability to consummate the marriage
- Underage – Missouri law requires that persons be 18 years old to marry, or between 16 and 18 with parental consent
- Fraud or duress – If a person is forced or unreasonably pressured into marriage or tricked into marrying, the marriage can be annulled.
Some of these marriages are void, while others are voidable. If the marriage is voidable, the aggrieved spouse could seek an annulment or agree to stay married even after learning the marriage could be annulled.
Can a person legally change their name in Missouri?
At the time of marriage, you can choose to take your spouse’s name, retain your maiden name, hyphenate your maiden name and married name, or use your maiden name as your middle name. You can also take your spouse’s name after marriage even if you didn’t do so at first. Additionally, you can reclaim your maiden name after a divorce by asking the judge during your divorce or petition the court at a later date.
To legally change your name in other circumstances, you’ll need to file a petition with the court. This is generally not a difficult matter to complete, and we can guide you through the process.
What can I do if a family member is abusing my children or me?
You can seek an Order of Protection from the court. This is an enforceable restraining order that can order the abuser to keep away from you or your kids. You can get a temporary injunction without the other person finding out about it first. Get to a safe place and call the police, court or a family law attorney. You can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.
If you suspect child abuse or neglect, visit this page at the Missouri Department of Social Services (DSS) or call the hotline at 1-800-392-3738. If you are a parent accused of child abuse or neglect, your kids can be removed from the home and taken away from you. A family law attorney can help you work to reunite your family as appropriate.
When should I get a prenuptial agreement?
A prenuptial agreement can help you protect your separate property or business from being lost in a divorce, make sure you are not taken advantage of in a divorce and are adequately supported, or protect your children from a previous relationship and their right to inherit from you. Prenuptial agreements are useful for couples with different levels of income, for blended families, or for anybody who wants to start their marriage with full financial disclosures and guarantees of security. A prenuptial agreement can be customized to your needs and make decisions regarding spousal support or property division in a divorce, as well as the terms of a will or life insurance policy, and other matters. Married partners can also create an antenuptial or postnuptial agreement at any time during their marriage.
How do you establish a child’s paternity?
Establishing paternity means having a child’s parentage legally established. Establishing paternity is critical to helping a father gain custodial or visitation rights to a child, or forcing that father to support his children financially. If the parents are married when a child is born, the husband is presumed to be the child’s legal father unless proven otherwise. If unmarried, the father can voluntarily acknowledge paternity at the hospital or later at the county court. Otherwise, a paternity proceeding in court will be needed to prove paternity, and this proceeding may be contested by the other party.
Do grandparents have visitation rights when the parents divorce?
Grandparents can ask the court to order visitation with their grandchildren when the parents are divorced or legally separated. They’ll need to prove that visitation is in the kids’ best interests, and a parent’s objections can carry significant weight with the court. If you are a grandparent seeking visitation or custody of your grandkids, call our office to discuss your options, including court-ordered visitation, guardianship or relative adoption where appropriate.
Here for Your Springfield Family Law Matters
For help with divorce, separation, adoption or guardianship in Springfield, call the family law attorneys Courtney & Mills at 417-869-9888. We respond promptly to all client inquiries and deliver a high level of personal service throughout the course of our representation.