Can I get alimony in a Missouri divorce?

The answer is that most lawyerly of answers: it depends. Alimony, or as it is called in the Missouri statutes, maintenance, is available, but it is dependent on the analysis of numerous factors by the family court judge.

Also variable is whether it will be modifiable and when it will terminate. The judge will examine two factors to first, which relates to lack of property or assets to provide for his or her needs and cannot support him or herself with employment or needs to care for a child.

What does Equitable Distribution mean in Missouri?

In Missouri, when a couple obtains a divorce, their property needs to be divided as part of the dissolution of their marriage. Missouri uses the concept of equitable distribution to guide judges when dividing the marital property of a couple.

Equitable distribution means that a court divides the property in a manner that is fair. This is important, because "fair" is not a synonym for "equal." This can cause some concern for parties to a divorce, who may fear that either they will lose much of their assets or that they will be left with too small a portion of the assets.

Child support guidelines under review

There has been a great deal of discussion regarding the issue of child support payment and custody arrangements in many states, including Missouri. There are many "father's rights" organizations working nationwide to make changes to how states allocate custody and child support obligations.

This can be a very sensitive topic. While child support payments are ostensibly, as their name implies, for the support of the child or children after the divorce, they are seen by many as funding the mother at the expense of the father. Part of the problem comes from the use of anecdotal evidence, which tends to favor extreme cases.

International child abduction carries a steep price

Divorces vary so much, it is difficult to generalize. Some are reasonable, with the parties working to do the best they can for their children. The couple may have grown up and aged out of love and out of their marriage. But there is no real animosity, and they are willing to cooperate in raising their children.

But there is the other side of the coin. Their matrimony has turned into acrimony, and every interaction is full of tension and conflict. Not only are such situations bad for the parents, with all of the additional stress, and it is typically this element of the divorce process that can harm children.

It is not the actual separation, but the tension, conflict and stress that accompanies a marriage and divorce where the relationship between the parents has deteriorated to constant, bitter fighting that makes divorce problematic.

Can broken furniture break a prenuptial agreement?

For couples with substantial assets, a prenuptial agreement is often part of the discussion before they marry. A prenuptial agreement typically describes the distribution of marital property for the couple should they divorce. Prenuptial agreements present something of a quandary for individuals who are paradoxically promising their love to each other "'til death do us part," and at the same time, allocating portions of their assets in a future divorce.

Prenuptial agreements were once looked upon warily by court in Missouri and elsewhere, but most jurisdictions now permit their use. For couples with disproportionate assets, they could help reduce potential for conflict, as they allow both parties to the marriage to know in advance what the division of property will look like and help set expectations.

Cooperation in family court-it can't hurt

Family court in Missouri is much like life. There are no guarantees. Well, there is one, and that is if you are combative and contentious, you and your soon-to-be former spouse will have a long, expensive, and painful divorce experience.

While there are many things that could improve the child custody proceedings, the divorce process and the courts, most are far beyond your control.

But as with most things in life, you never have a second chance to run through your divorce again and see if you changed some of your decisions, things would turn out better. You only have one chance, so you need try to work toward fostering the best interest of your children. 

After a divorce, you are still their grandparents

Family relationships are always complex, and the relationship between adult children and their parents generally do not become any less complex by nature of the aging of the children into adulthood. Sometimes, it merely makes them more complex, as the children may grow to resent the "suggestions" of parents, finding them intrusive and meddlesome.

And while grandchildren can add even more potential for irritation and conflict, the mix can become very roiled by the occurrence of divorce. As a grandparent, you may be faced with many additional complexities, as you attempt to maintain viable relations with all parties.

The difficulty for the grandparent is avoiding alienating either parent of your grandchildren. Because their decisions regarding their child custody arrangement will control how and when you have access to your grandchildren, maintaining positive relationship with both parents is important.

Marital, Separate and Equitable, but not equal

The characterization of property during a divorce is significant. Your property division will determine your financial future and one element of that division is whether property is marital or separate in Missouri. Separate property, as its name implies typically has as its source something that separates it from jointly held assets. In most cases, inheritances and gifts are separate property.

Marital property makes up the bulk of most couples assets and includes income earned and assets acquired during the marriage. The important to remember during a divorce that marital property in Missouri is subject to an equitable division. And this type of distribution can be quite complex, depending on the length of the marriage and the income of the couple.

Child support is for your children

Child support is too often a contentious issue during a divorce. While it exists as a means of benefiting the child or children from the marriage, it often becomes a tool used by the parents to "punish" each other.

The parent who pays often objects because they feel as if their child support payments benefit the other parent. The parent receiving the payments may attempt to use access to the children as a weapon to force payment, withholding access when a payment is late or missed.

A positive divorce?

If you have children, the longest lasting legacy of your divorce will be what you taught them during the divorce and their memories. How that plays out is largely in your hands. While there is likely to be few things about your divorce that will seem pleasant or enjoyable, the better prepared you are for the process and the better able you are to cope with the challenges that do arise, the better your children will do during and after the divorce.

Expectation setting is important. Your divorce attorney can help, because they can explain each element of the process, from the property division and spousal support to child custody and child support, and how each will likely operate in you divorce.

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