Divorcing in Columbia, MO, is likely to be more detailed and stressful than you may initially expect. Every divorce is unique, but there are several foundational issues that every divorcing couple must address in their dissolution proceedings. While issues such as child custody and child support are likely to be the most emotionally charged and contentious aspects of a divorce, property division can also be difficult to resolve.
If you are bracing for divorce proceedings in Columbia, MO, it’s vital to have some idea of the financial issues you are likely to encounter in resolving your divorce. Reliable legal counsel is a helpful asset. Your lawyer can assist you with the procedural aspects of the divorce, provide useful insights that allow you to make more informed decisions, and help you address any unforeseen financial disputes that arise in your divorce.
Property Division in Missouri
Missouri upholds an equitable distribution law for property division in divorce. This means that divorcing spouses must divide their marital property and debts in the fairest possible manner. While some divorcing couples strive to negotiate these terms independently through alternative dispute resolution, others proceed to litigation, and family court judges resolve these matters.
If you and your spouse are willing to negotiate a mutually agreeable resolution to property division, you can do so through collaborative divorce or mediation. However, you should not assume that you do not need to hire a divorce attorney just because you are not going to court. Legal advice you can trust is a vital asset as you begin property division negotiations with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. In a collaborative divorce, you and your spouse will meet privately with your respective attorneys to negotiate the division of your marital property. Mediation is similar but will unfold under the supervision of a neutral mediator. This third party assists the couple in drafting their divorce order.
No matter how you and your spouse must resolve property division in your divorce, it is vital to recognize that the outcome of your property division determination can influence your life in several ways for years to come. Additionally, you and your spouse could face conflicts you cannot resolve privately, compelling you to complete your divorce in litigation. Property division is just one of the financial matters you must address in divorce, but it is likely to be one of the divorce’s most detailed and contentious aspects.
Child Custody and Support
When a married couple divorces, they must resolve custody over their children. This is not an issue that they can negotiate privately, no matter how agreeable they are toward one another or how closely their values and goals align concerning their children. The Columbia, MO, family court has a legal duty to preserve the best interests of children affected by a divorce. Therefore, if you are divorcing and have children, a child custody determination will likely be the main focal point of your entire case.
While the court will resolve custody and assign an allocation of parental rights and responsibilities, the judge handling your case also has the final say regarding child support payments. Both parents are legally required to financially support their children in equal measure. If one spouse obtains a greater share of custody than the other, they will incur greater living expenses. As a result, the other spouse will likely owe them child support each month.
Parents may fight bitterly over custody, and a parent may be resentful of a child support obligation if they did not secure the custody rights they anticipated. In any case, child support is non-negotiable, and failure to meet your child support obligation carries severe penalties. If you have a standing support order that you believe is unfair or untenable for any reason, you have the right to request reasonable and necessary changes that more accurately reflect your circumstances.
When a couple divorces in an equitable distribution state, they may reach a mutual agreement privately through alternative dispute resolution that negates the need for long-term spousal support. It’s also possible for a divorcing couple to have a prenuptial contract that stipulates spousal support terms in divorce. If a couple litigates, judges in equitable distribution states generally try to avoid the need for ongoing spousal support, but these arrangements are necessary in some cases.
Alimony is likely to come into play whenever there is a significant financial disparity between divorcing spouses. If one owns much more separate property and earns more income than the other, spousal support may be required to ensure the other spouse can maintain a standard of living reasonably close to what they had while married. A spouse may also qualify for alimony based on medical need, inability to work, financial dependence on the soon-to-be ex-spouse, or a variety of other possible reasons.
Most alimony agreements are temporary. The amount that must be paid hinges on the financial status of each spouse, and the time payments continue usually reflects the time the marriage lasted. Alimony can potentially end before the anticipated date if the recipient completes a terminating action, such as remarrying or moving in with a new partner.
How Can an Attorney Help?
Divorce is an inherently emotional ordeal, even when divorcing spouses reach mutual decisions to end their marriages. This can make it difficult to approach practical matters like the financial aspects of divorce with an objective mindset. Regardless of the underlying reason for your divorce or how you anticipate it unfolding, legal representation you can trust is an invaluable asset.
When it comes to the financial aspects of the divorce, most of them will hinge on the financial disclosure statements provided by both spouses. Your attorney will help you compile your statement and clarify any discrepancies that arise between you and your spouse’s respective financial records. If there are unique details that you believe demand consideration, your legal counsel will help you address your concerns. Once you have confirmed that you are headed for divorce, contact an experienced Columbia, MO, divorce attorney as soon as possible to secure the legal counsel you need.