At some point in your life, you will likely encounter some aspect of family law.
Whether you’re contemplating a divorce, negotiating child support, or facing other family legal issues, you will need the support of an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer when dealing with family legal matters. At the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave, our team of divorce attorneys is well-equipped to tackle the legal challenges you and your family are currently facing. Below is a brief overview of the different types of family law cases our attorneys handle on behalf of our clients.
Divorce, Annulment, & Separation
More people get married each year than divorced, and the divorce rate in the U.S. is currently around six per 1,000 marriages. This statistic is misleading, however, because nearly half of all first marriages end in divorce, and the percentage is higher for subsequent marriages. Suffice it to say, if you and your spouse choose to divorce, you’re certainly not alone!
Divorce often involves multiple issues that need to be addressed, including property division, spousal support, child custody, and child support, among others. Our attorneys can guide you through the process from start to finish and help devise solutions that protect your interests.
Compared to a litigated divorce, an agreed divorce is generally more cost-effective and involves less conflict. We can work to negotiate a full settlement agreement that fairly resolves all of the outstanding issues at the end of your marriage. If you successfully negotiate a full settlement, your divorce case can be completed without protracted and bitter court litigation. Certain situations might necessitate a litigated divorce, however, including domestic violence, hiding assets, and other problems. Our attorneys can help you understand the best approach for your case.
Similar to divorce, annulment dissolves the legal bonds of the marital relationship. However, when you annul a marriage, the marriage will be treated as if it never existed. Annulments are more difficult to secure because they are only available if your marriage is considered void or voidable. We can help you understand whether an annulment is an available option for you.
Some couples choose legal separation instead of divorce for various reasons. A legal separation addresses some of the same issues as a divorce, including the division of property, spousal support, child custody, and child support. However, if you obtain a legal separation, you will remain legally married and won’t be free to marry someone else. Some reasons why you might consider legal separation include:
- Having time to work on reconciliation
- Allowing a spouse to access the other spouse’s employer-provided health insurance
- Being close to retirement and wanting to allow one spouse to file for Social Security spousal benefits after 10 years of marriage
- Having a religious or moral opposition to divorce
- Wishing to preserve the tax benefits of marriage
- Remaining legally married for the benefit of children
The division of property and debts is a central issue in divorce cases. If you and your spouse can’t reach a property settlement agreement in your divorce, the court will decide for you and equitably divide your assets and debts. Equitable distribution does not necessarily mean an equal division but rather a division that the court deems fair. We can work to negotiate a property settlement agreement that will protect your financial interests and avoid potential tax consequences that might otherwise occur.
Modification of Decrees
When the court issues your divorce decree, it will often include legal orders that you and your former spouse are obligated to follow. However, your circumstances or your ex-spouse’s circumstances might have changed since the end of your marriage, and the orders may not fit your current situation. Our attorneys can file post-decree modification motions to secure changes in your divorce orders that more accurately reflect your family’s needs.
Spousal Support (or Alimony)
Alimony is monetary support that one spouse might be ordered to pay the other for a set period following a divorce. It is now called spousal maintenance or spousal support in Missouri.
Either spouse can request spousal support in their divorce case. However, the court has the discretion to grant a spousal support request. If you believe you should receive spousal support or that you might be ordered to pay it, you should speak with the family law attorneys at the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave.
Termination of Maintenance
If you were ordered to pay spousal support, there are a few situations in which you can file to terminate the order. A spousal support obligation can be terminated if your former spouse has remarried, has experienced substantial improvements in their financial situation, or if there has been another substantial and continuing change in circumstances.
Under Missouri law, both parents are expected to financially support their children. Child support is monetary support that a noncustodial parent might be ordered to pay the other parent. It takes into account several factors, including the incomes of both parents, the number of overnights the child spends in each home, and others. Missouri has child support guidelines that influence the calculation, and support is typically ordered until the child graduates from high school or turns 18. However, support might be ordered until the child reaches age 21 if they remain in school or have a disability necessitating ongoing support.
Parenting Plan & Child Support Modification
If a child’s time with one parent increases, both the parenting plan and the child support order might need to be modified in response to the change. We can help with modifications of parenting plans and child support orders, ensuring that they reflect the best interests of the child.
Termination of Child Support
Either the supporting parent or the other parent can file an affidavit to terminate an administrative child support order. Termination might be granted in the following situations:
- The custodial parent relinquished custody of the child, and the child is self-supporting.
- The child failed to complete their education and is 18 or older.
- The child is between 18 and 21, finished high school or obtained a GED, and didn’t enroll in college or a vocational-technical program.
- The child earned failing grades in college or a vo-tech program that precludes them from re-enrolling.
- The child failed to complete a full-time course load in college or vo-tech school.
- The child completed their education.
To secure a child support order, an unmarried father’s paternity will need to be established. For example, the father will need to sign the child’s birth certificate or an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP). If the father refuses, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave can file a paternity action in court to secure DNA testing and establish paternity.
Child custody cases include both legal and residential custody. Legal custody refers to who will have the authority to make important decisions for the child and can be granted jointly or solely. Residential or physical custody refers to where the child will live and can be shared or sole. We can help you understand the different types of custody and strive to obtain an agreement or order that protects the interests of your child.
Family Access Motions
In some cases, a child’s parent will prevent the child’s grandparents from seeing or spending time with their grandchild. For example, this might happen when the grandparents’ adult child dies, and the other parent refuses to let them see their grandchild following the death. Whatever your situation may be, we can explain the process for securing family access to the child and help you understand whether it is likely to be granted in your case.
If a loved one is incapacitated and unable to make important decisions about healthcare or finances for themselves, you can petition the court for the appointment of a guardian. A guardian might also be appointed to care for a minor child if the child’s parents have passed away or had their parental rights terminated.
Prenuptial Agreements & Estate Planning
Adults of all ages can benefit from estate planning to protect their rights and family goals. If you are nearing retirement, estate planning becomes even more important. An estate plan can help ensure your wishes will be met after you die, and it can also include plans for your future long-term care and end-of-life care needs.
Prenuptial agreements can help protect the financial interests of both parties when they plan to marry. You can include plans for how your assets will be divided in a divorce and whether one spouse will pay spousal support to the other and under what circumstances. A prenuptial agreement can facilitate a smoother divorce process and help protect your ability to retire in the future.
Mediation & Contempt
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process held outside of court that might help resolve the outstanding issues in a family law dispute. If a couple can reach a mediated agreement, it can be filed with the court and become a part of the court’s orders.
If a parent or former spouse ignores the court’s orders, the other party can file a motion for contempt with the court. If the court holds the party in contempt, it can issue sanctions against the party and might modify the existing orders.
Talk to the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave
Are you dealing with a family law issue? Reach out to the experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave. Call us today to schedule a consultation at 417-322-2222 or contact us online.