Before you decide to get married, get a divorce, or fight for custody of your child, you should take the time to familiarize yourself with Missouri family law and the legal procedures that are involved. You should also learn what your rights are and how to fight for them.
Fisher Law LLC is a seasoned family law firm in Kansas City, Missouri and is thoroughly familiar with Missouri family law. We can answer any questions that you have and can help you through each step of your legal matter.
To begin, here are 10 things you should know about Missouri family law.
- 1. Family Court
- All family law matters, from marriage to divorce to custody, are handled by the family court in your county. Fisher Law LLC handles cases in the Family Court for the 16th Judicial Circuit of Jackson County on a regular basis. We are thoroughly familiar with the procedures and the personnel in this court, including the judges and attorneys who appear there on a regular basis.
- 2. Marriage
- Missouri recognizes marriage between two individuals if they have obtained a license from the courthouse and have had their marriage solemnized by a licensed clergyman or judge within 30 days of the date the license was issued. Juveniles between the age of 15 and 17 must have parental consent to be married. Children age 14 or younger must have a court order. Same sex marriages are not recognized in Missouri in any capacity, even if the couple was married in a state that allows homosexual marriage. Common law marriages are not obtainable in Missouri, but the state will recognize a common law marriage if it was obtained in another state that recognizes such marriages.
- 3. Separation
- Missouri allows to spouses to file for a legal separation instead of divorce if they wish to remain married, but live separate lives. Custody and support may still be decided and the spouses’ finances will be separate, but the two parties will still have the insurance and tax benefits of being married. Family law court will grant a legal separation if the marriage is irretrievably broken and if proper custody and support has been set up.
- 4. Divorce
- Missouri is a no-fault divorce state. If your marriage is irretrievably broken and you want to completely separate from your spouse, you may file for divorce. Missouri family court will only finalize a divorce once all child support, child custody, spousal support, and property division matters are properly taken care of. You will need a capable Kansas City divorce lawyer on your side to help you through each of these processes
- 5. Mediation vs. Litigation
- There are two ways to get a divorce. Uncontested divorce cases can be handled through mediation, where the two parties work out their own divorce agreement outside of the courtroom without a trial. Disputed divorce matters must be taken to court, where each side will present their arguments before a judge, who will make the final decision. Mediation is generally cheaper, faster, and much less stressful or emotional, but it is not for everyone. Anyone who cannot agree on one or more parts of their divorce will have to go to court and settle the issue through divorce litigation.
- 6. Determining Child Custody
- Child custody is determined based on the best interests of the child. The two parents can draft their own parenting agreement through mediation, or a family law judge can make the decision for them. Factors that go into this decision include each parent’s ability to care for the child, each parent’s income, each parent’s desire to care for the child, the child’s relationship with each parent, the child’s preference, and much more.
- 7. Determining Child Support
- Child support is also decided based on the best interests of the child. The two parents can decide on their own support agreement, or the matter can be decided by a judge in court. Child support is generally decided based on the Missouri child support guidelines, which determine each parent’s disposable income and ability to support their child by subtracting their living expenses from their monthly gross income.
- 8. Modifications
- Life changes after a divorce. Sometimes, these changes can make it impossible for you to comply with a custody, visitation, or support order. Maybe you lost your job and cannot afford support payments. Maybe you have been transferred to an office out of state and need to relocate. You must have your court order modified as soon as possible to avoid penalties for failing to pay or for violating the other parent’s custody or visitation rights.
- 9. Enforcement
- If the other party is not paying support or is preventing you from exercising your rights to visitation or custody, you can approach the court and request enforcement of the court order. This ensures that your rights are honored and that the other party faces penalties if they continue to withhold support or violate your rights.
- 10. Parents’ Rights
- Whether you are a father or a mother, you have equal rights to custody and support. Our firm knows your rights and can help you fight for them, whether you need to establish paternity and fight for your fathers’ rights or you need to protect your mothers’ rights and ensure that the father is held accountable and required to support you and your child.
Contact Fisher Law LLC
If you are facing a family law matter of any kind in Kansas City, Missouri, look no further than Fisher Law LLC for the legal counsel and representation that you need. Our firm has the experience and the understanding necessary to get results for your case. We can represent you in a divorce or in a custody cases, fighting for your interests and the best interests of your children. Contact our firm today to learn more through an initial divorce case evaluation.