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We Can Help with Family Law Matters

Family law can be a complicated and emotional process for many.

Having an attorney who knows your rights and can help you through these times by providing sound legal advice is essential. McNeil & Associates provides clients with the information and guidance that they need to progress toward their goals in family law.

Family Law Matters Include:

Steps To A Dissolution

Dissolution of marriage is the legal term in Missouri for divorce. By whatever name, divorce normally requires the following components:

  • Petition
  • Child custody or parenting plan
  • Statement of property and debts
  • Statement of income and expenses
  • Marital settlement agreement
  • Child support calculation form
  • Judgment decree of divorce

In Missouri, neither spouse needs to prove that the other did something wrong to file for a “no-fault” divorce. The only thing that must be demonstrated is that the marriage is irretrievably broken and that there is no reasonable likelihood that it can be repaired. However, the behavior of the spouses may be a consideration when it comes to child custody, visitation and support orders.

The time frame to complete a divorce can vary from as short as 45 days to as long as the time that spouse can essentially “drag it out” for, especially if there are disagreements. It is best to work out all issues between the spouses prior to the final court date. If there are still unresolved conflicts, the judge can make final decisions for you.

An Alternative To Divorce: Legal Separation

If you file for a divorce, but your spouse denies that the marriage is irretrievably broken, you may decide to pursue a legal separation.

Legal separation is a financial divorce. All of the steps are followed for a traditional dissolution of marriage except that no divorce decree is issued. Technically, you are still legally married to your spouse and cannot remarry, but your assets, finances and the custody of your children will be separate.

Health insurance coverage and religious prohibitions of divorce are a couple of reasons to pursue legal separation. When you are legally separated, you can live your life as a single person, but without the ability to remarry. A legal separation can be converted to a divorce within 90 days of the final judgment.

Custody, Parenting Time, Grandparents’ Rights And More

Child custody and support are decided during a divorce or legal separation between parents who share children between them. The division of time is governed by a Parenting Plan the parties negotiate or the court decides. In some cases, there may be reasons to modify the terms as the child grows and situations change.

Either parent may file for a modification of custody, support, or both. Grandparents may also seek a modification of custody to ensure that they get a fair amount of time with their grandchildren, especially if the custodial parent is not their child.

Modification Of Court Orders

The provisions of any judgment respecting maintenance or support may be modified only upon showing of changed circumstances so substantial and continuing as to make the terms unreasonable. Either parent can request a modification.

Many factors are taken into consideration, such as parenting time with the child, health of the child, the health of the non-filing parent, the parents’ respective living situations, either parent’s refusals to follow parenting time parameters, and the child’s overall adjustment to changes in their home, school and area of residence. In some cases, the child’s wishes may be taken into consideration.

The best interests of the child are always paramount.

Adoption And Paternity Actions

Adoption in Missouri can be a lengthy, detailed and expensive process. Having an attorney represent you guarantees that the rights of all parties involved are not damaged. The natural parent may have the right to change their mind during the time frame of the adoption and for a set period thereafter.

The prospective adoptive parents are carefully scrutinized by the state, and it is essential that you follow the letter of the law to adopt a child. Always, the best interests of the child are the top priority.

Determining paternity and terminating parental rights of birth parents are often legal necessities leading up to an adoption. Paternity actions are also undertaken to determine the identity of a child born outside of marriage. Confirmation of a child’s paternity may be part of custody and support orders and have other legal ramifications.

We can help. Contact McNeil & Associates today.