Divorce is more than ending a marriage contract. The process is multifaceted and requires the divorcing spouses to cover multiple issues. They have several options for accomplishing this, but every divorce will involve a few key concerns you should be prepared to address. If you plan to divorce in Kansas City, MO, in the near future, one of the best assets you can have on your side is an experienced divorce attorney. The right attorney can help you identify the critical areas of concern that are likely to demand most of your attention during your divorce.
Missouri upholds an equitable distribution law for property division in divorce. This means the divorcing spouses must reach the most equitable possible property division. This does not mean they will each receive completely equal shares of marital property upon finalizing their divorce. If the couple litigates their divorce, the judge handling the case will carefully review their financial records to help them reach a mutually acceptable resolution to property division.
Many couples choose alternative dispute resolution for divorce in Kansas City, MO. This provides much more flexibility and control over the outcome of divorce proceedings. If a couple chooses alternative dispute resolution, they can save a significant amount of time and money on their divorce and reach more personalized terms. While their property division resolution must align with Missouri’s equitable distribution law, they do have the option of customizing their division of property to avoid liquidation of certain assets and account for other financial concerns.
The equitable distribution laws of Missouri and other states aim to ensure the fairest possible outcome to property division and to avoid any long-term financial commitments between former spouses. However, spousal support or alimony can come into play when one spouse has been financially dependent on the other for a long time or if they are unable to support themselves financially.
When judges determine spousal support, they typically consider each spouse’s respective income and other factors to decide how much each spousal support payment must be and how long these payments must continue. The time required for spousal support to continue typically depends on how long the marriage lasted. In most cases, spousal support is temporary, but it may be awarded permanently in some situations.
Child Custody and Child Support
If you have children, determining custody and visitation rights will be the most crucial aspect of your divorce. It is also going to be the most emotionally challenging. When parents dispute custody in divorce, they need to separate their personal feelings regarding one another from their shared responsibilities as parents. Unfortunately, this does not always happen, and the children involved in the divorce bear the consequences.
Even when divorcing parents pursue alternative dispute resolution to settle their divorce, a judge must determine child custody. The parents may negotiate a parenting plan through mediation or collaborative divorce, but they must submit it to a judge for final approval. The family court of Kansas City, MO, has a legal responsibility to ensure that any divorce order approved suits the best interests of the children it will affect.
Almost every child custody determination invariably requires child support terms as well. When parents share custody, one will still likely owe support to the other. The court reviews both parents’ finances, and the amount of time they will spend with the children. When one parent has greater custody rights than the other, the noncustodial parent will pay child support. If a support agreement becomes unsustainable for any reason, either parent has the right to petition for modification of the support order to reflect new circumstances and arrange a more suitable set of support terms.
Additional Concerns for Unique Divorce Cases
In most divorces, property division and child custody are the most critical issues the divorcing spouses must resolve. However, every divorce is unique, and some divorces will pose challenging legal questions to the parties involved. For example, high net worth couples often control complex investments, business assets, and other high-value property that can be difficult to divide accurately and equitably. As a result, these individuals often face significant tax concerns related to their divorces, and these cases require extra care and attention.
While many divorces are filed for “irreconcilable differences,” and most states do not require a petitioning spouse to list a specific cause for divorce, it is possible to divorce for cause in some situations. For example, if your spouse abused you or committed a serious crime, you can divorce them with cause, and their behavior will be reflected in your divorce order terms. Your spouse will likely face criminal prosecution from the state, and the judge handling their criminal case could include terms in their sentencing that relate to your divorce. In addition, the judge may strip them of custody and visitation rights to your children or issue a permanent restraining order that prevents them from contacting you.
Even if your divorce unfolds along relatively “normal” lines, it is still possible to face unforeseen complications in your divorce proceedings. It is also possible that you will need to return to court later to resolve issues related to your divorce order. In Kansas City, MO, family law offers a modification process that allows parties subject to family court orders to petition for adjustments to those orders. Some of the most commonly cited reasons for modification petitions include:
- Requesting changes to a child support order.
- Addressing another party’s willful violation of their family court order terms.
- Petitioning for changes to custody orders.
- Filing contempt proceedings.
Your Attorney Can Help You Understand Family Court Orders
If you believe recent events require an adjustment to your family court order, it’s vital to understand the modification process and find an attorney who can assist you in navigating it.
Every divorce requires addressing sensitive issues, and the underlying reasons for divorce can make it difficult for anyone to remain objective and focused on practical concerns in their divorce proceedings. The right attorney can be a tremendous asset in this situation, so contact an experienced Kansas City, MO, divorce lawyer as soon as you have decided to divorce.