Family Law FAQs
Family law matters can seem particularly daunting due to the emotional connection. However, they don’t have to. At Affordable Legal Services Of Thomas Sandifer, I’ve represented clients in many different types of situations, and I am able to answer some family law FAQs.
How long does a divorce take?
In Missouri, a divorce can take anywhere from one month to multiple years. It depends on whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, as well as matters such as the division of assets, child support and custody and more.
Should I negotiate with the other side?
Though sometimes it is necessary to negotiate with the other side, a strong attorney can help you decide what is right in your situation. You should not try to negotiate on your own behalf. Your attorney is there to handle that for you, and can help protect your interests.
How are my marital assets divided?
An ideal solution to the division of marital assets is if you and your spouse are able to decide yourselves who receives what. Deciding this outside of court can be fairly simple, and it is common when spouses don’t have many assets or are able to cooperate with each other. It may be a good idea to have a lawyer even if you are dividing property yourselves to ensure that it is done correctly and cannot be questioned later.
If you are unable to cooperate with your spouse, a judge will decide what constitutes “equitable division” of your property. This means “fair”, and not necessarily equal. Because Missouri is an equitable distribution state, the court can decide based on both income levels, value of nonmarital property and custodial arrangements what is fair.
How can I get sole custody of my child?
The only way to ensure that you will receive sole custody of your child is if you can decide with your spouse outside of court. Your attorneys will create the agreement. If your child custody is decided by the court, it is up to the discretion of the judge, who may consult experts such as therapists, doctors and others to help them decide what is in the best interest of the child.
How is a child support order set?
Child support orders are generally set by a judge. The judge will take the following into account:
- Income levels of both parents
- Expenses associated with raising the child
- What lifestyle the child enjoyed prior to divorce or separation