Divorce

Springfield, MO Divorce Lawyers

When people go through a divorce, it can be a particularly difficult time in their lives. A marriage is ending, everything they own is on the table in a settlement and parents with minor children are concerned about how they will continue bringing up the kids after the process is over. A Springfield, MO divorce lawyer has to give people peace of mind in knowing that their legal affairs are in good hands.

The lawyers at Taylor & Phillips serve clients throughout Greene County, Christian County, and Webster County from our Springfield office. Call today at (417) 487-4244 or contact us online to set up a consultation.

What Must Be Settled in a Missouri Divorce

Missouri has a no-fault divorce option. As the name implies, this means it is not necessary to prove a spouse did anything wrong in order to file for divorce. This can be a relief to parents, who don’t have to air any dirty laundry for their children to hear. But there are still four other significant issues that need to be addressed in a Missouri divorce settlement.

Property Division

The first step in dividing up property is to determine what belongs to each spouse individually and what belongs to both. The latter is called marital property and it is the only property subject to Missouri’s equitable distribution laws. Property that is owned individually by the spouses goes entirely to them, without any corresponding tradeoffs required in a settlement.

However, the definition of what belongs entirely to one spouse–their separate property–is much tighter than people may realize. Defining a piece of property or a portion of income is not about who earned it, who bought it, who used it or even whose name is on it. Separate property is defined by when the spouse came into possession of it.

For example, the spouse that owned a precious family heirloom prior to the marriage can likely cite that artifact as separate property. A spouse who owned a car prior to the marriage can claim that as separate property. Inheritances, even ones that come during the marriage, can be considered separate property, so long as they are not commingled with funds that are otherwise marital property.

But here are some things that are not separate property–the 401(k) at work is not separate property, at least the portion that was accumulated after the wedding date. Income earned during the marriage is not separate property. A business that was started after the marriage is not separate property. The key is the date when the property was acquired.

Even with this black-and-white distinction of a calendar date (the wedding day) in place, there is still room for considerable legal disputes. Maybe a business was started before the marriage and will continue after it. What portion is separate property and what is marital property? A spouse that has been working at the same job they were at prior to the marriage might seek to have at least some portion of their 401(k) or other accumulated benefits considered separate property.

These are just a handful of examples. What they underscore is how important it is to know that your Springfield, MO divorce lawyer is doing their homework, is familiar with all the nuances and details of each piece of property being negotiated over and is then fighting for the best interests of their client.

Alimony

Also called spousal maintenance in the state of Missouri, alimony is the payment that one spouse (usually the one who earns a higher salary) pays to the other.

The purpose is to allow each spouse to enjoy the same standard of living they enjoyed during the marriage, at least as far as is reasonably possible.

The presumption behind alimony is that both spouses, regardless of income earned, contributed equally to the upkeep of the marriage and that it would be unfair to allow the economic burden of divorce to fall exclusively on one spouse.

Missouri law considers several factors in determining an alimony payment. The comparative earnings of each spouse is certainly one of them. A judge will also look at what it will take for the spouse with less income to get up to speed in the job market. The ultimate objective is for both spouses to be self-sufficient, but judges will look at factors that may prevent career development–the raising of children and the caring for elderly parents being prime examples. 

The issues that come up in a divorce settlement are sensitive ones, and having the right attorney can make a big difference. Call Taylor & Phillips at (417) 487-4244 or reach out here online to set up a consultation.

Child Custody

Custody of children is separated into two areas–physical custody and legal custody. The former refers to where the children will live. The latter refers to the ability to make important decisions, usually pertaining to religious upbringing (if any), education and medical care.

Custody then can be either sole–where one parent has exclusive control and responsibility–or joint–where the responsibilities are shared.

The overriding factor will be determining the best interests of the child. Missouri family law courts are generally sympathetic to the notion that a child’s best interests are served by having both parents involved in their lives. The spouse who believes their soon-to-be ex should have either a reduced parenting role or have either form of custody removed altogether, will have to demonstrate their reasons to the court.

Child Support

Regardless of how custody issues are resolved, parents are presumed financially responsible for their children. Judges will consider a range of issues in determining an appropriate child support payment, revolving around the income of the parents and the needs of the child. Of course, life changes, and if either parental income or child needs experience a significant change, there can always be a modification to the original divorce settlement.

One important distinction must be made–child support and alimony are not one in the same, even if they end up being paid together in a lump sum. Child support is focused strictly on the needs of the children and must be used for their benefit. Alimony is for the spouse.

The divorce process is not an easy one, but with the right Springfield, MO divorce attorney,  spouses can get through it and begin a new period of their lives. From our Springfield office, Taylor & Phillips serves clients throughout Greene County, Christian County, and Webster County. 

Call today at (417) 487-4244 or contact us online to set up a consultation.

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