Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce)
With over 100 years of experience in Missouri family law practice, the attorneys at The Schechter Law Firm, P.C. in St. Louis have the knowledge, skills and abilities to effectively represent individuals seeking a dissolution of marriage or legal separation and to make sure their needs and goals are met regarding child custody and support, maintenance, and the division of marital property.
Missouri Divorce Basics
To file for divorce in Missouri, one must be a resident of the state or a member of the armed services stationed here for at least 90 days. After the petition has been filed, a dissolution cannot be finalized until at least 30 days have passed. However, if there are any contested issues that the parties cannot agree upon, such as child custody, child support, spousal maintenance, or the division of marital property, these matters must be resolved in court, and the process can take at least several months to reach a conclusion.
Missouri law recognizes no-fault divorce, that is the only ground that has to be proven to obtain a divorce (called a dissolution of marriage) is that the marriage is irretrievably broken with no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved. It is not necessary to prove that one spouse is to blame for causing the breakdown of the marriage due to adultery, abuse, or other bad acts. However, the concept of fault can still play a significant role in the divorce, especially regarding the property division and matters of child custody and maintenance.
Basically, marital property is defined in Missouri as all property acquired by either spouse during marriage except for property acquired as a gift or inheritance by one spouse alone. Marital property belongs to both spouses, and if they cannot agree on how to divide that property, the family law judge will make the decision for them in court.
The court first sets nonmarital property aside to each spouse and then proceeds to divide marital property and marital debt in such proportion as the court deems just. Note that the judge is not required to make an equal division of the assets. In fact, there are a variety of factors the court must consider in determining how to divide the property. Theses factors include:
- The economic circumstances of each spouse
- The desirability of awarding the family home to the custodial parent
- The contribution each spouse made to the acquisition of marital property, including contributions made as a homemaker
- The value of each spouse's nonmarital property
- The conduct of the parties during the marriage
- The child custody arrangement
Notice that even though nonmarital property stays with the spouse who owns it, the value of that property still plays an important role in the division of marital assets. The characterization and valuation of every asset as either marital or nonmarital property is extremely important to the property settlement. Our lawyers can handle the most complex asset issues, such as an ownership interest in a business or professional practice, tracing of nonmarital and marital property, retirement plans, real estate, and complicated investment portfolios.
Experienced Missouri Marriage Dissolution Lawyers
It is also important to note that even though fault is not required as a ground for dissolution, the conduct of the parties during the marriage is a factor considered by the court in the property division. As experienced courtroom litigators, we understand both how to prove and defend against allegations of misconduct which could impact the property division in a divorce, as well as child custody and spousal maintenance. The decisions made in a divorce have an immediate impact, as well as long-term consequences on the parties' financial health well into the future. Trust your dissolution case to attorneys who are knowledgeable and experienced in family law litigation. In St. Louis and surrounding areas in St. Louis and St. Charles counties, contact The Schechter Law Firm, P.C. for assistance.