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DIVORCE & FAMILY LAW

Divorce & Family

WHAT IS THE PHILOSOPHY OF OUR FIRM?

Our philosophy is that the marriage relationship is sacred.  It is literally a covenant between you, your spouse and God.  It is a relationship which is intended to be “for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness, and in health; until death do us part”.  Therefore it should not be entered into lightly or ended lightly.  We do, however, recognize that there are circumstances under which a marriage cannot continue.

WHAT IF I DON’T WANT THE DIVORCE?

In some cases, it is your spouse who believes that the marriage is “Irretrievably Broken”. Despite the fact that you might not want a divorce, if your spouse wants one, it is almost certain that he/she will be granted their request.  While this is unfortunate, it may put you in the position of facing the dissolution of your marriage whether you agree or not. In these circumstances you need good legal counsel to advise you on the many aspects of divorce. This will enable you to plan and to move on with your life with the best possible result.

WHAT ABOUT MARRIAGE OR FAMILY COUNSELING?

In all cases, we encourage our clients to seek counselors to assist them through this difficult time in their lives and to assist in the healing process. Make no mistake that, regardless of the circumstances, a divorce is an emotionally trying process.  It will affect both parties, as well as their children and their extended families for years to come.  If there are children involved, it will effect who they live with and where they will live, where they will attend school and how they view life, love and marriage.  Divorce will change their lives tremendously.  A counselor can help the parties to work toward resolving their differences and saving their marriage or assist the family in moving ahead toward a new life.

Legal Separation

WHAT IS A LEGAL SEPARATION?

The same issues which are addressed in a divorce are addressed in a Legal Separation.  Issues of maintenance (alimony), child custody, temporary custody, visitation, child support and property and debt division are all things which must be determined.  The primary difference is that in the end the Decree of Legal Separation does not finally “end” your marriage.  There is a separate action which is required to convert a Legal Separation into a Divorce.  There is a 90 day waiting period from the date of the Decree of Legal Separation before either party may file a motion to begin this process. The Decree of Legal Separation can also be set aside upon a joint motion by the parties.

WHY CHOOSE A LEGAL SEPARATION?

Many people choose to pursue a Legal Separation for religious or personal reasons.  Others are attempting to keep health insurance and other insurance benefits in place even after the Decree of Legal Separation.  However, parties should investigate this issue thoroughly prior to choosing to pursue a Legal Separation as a mechanism to continue any benefits.  In recent years many insurance companies, employers and other benefit providers have eliminated the distinction between a Legal Separation and Divorce Decree in order to limit their obligation to continue with certain benefits.

WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES OF A LEGAL SEPARATION?

There are some definite disadvantages to obtaining a Legal Separation.  For example, the parties are not free to remarry until the Decree is converted to a Divorce, the property division is not modifiable, and one usually needs to hire an attorney to file the proper paperwork to convert the Legal Separation.  Despite these disadvantages, many people prefer this type of action to a Divorce and ultimately the choice is up to the individual.

WHAT IS AN ANNULMENT?

This method of ending a marriage is not often utilized in today’s legal arena.  While the attorneys at Myers Law, LLC have filed and completed annulment proceedings over the years, most attorneys have never considered the possibility nor represented someone in an annulment case.  The essential difference between this and a Legal Separation or Divorce is that it requests the court to declare the “marriage” void from the onset.  It essentially declares that a valid marriage never occurred.  While this distinction may not seem significant, it can have long standing effects on many issues such as a religious covenant, inheritance rights, maintenance (Alimony), division of property, child custody and support of any children born during the relationship, as well as other important aspects relative to the ending of the relationship. There are numerous pitfalls and challenges relative to proceeding with this type of action as well as defenses and limitations.  However, under certain circumstances an Annulment may serve to protect your interests better than either a Legal Separation or Divorce.

WHAT ARE THE GROUNDS FOR AN ANNULMENT?

The grounds under which a person can request an Annulment in the State of Missouri are limited.  Some of these include:

Fraud
Lack of capacity to marry
Spouses are relatives
Lack of assent
Impotency
Duress
Age
Criminal conviction which precludes the marriage
Lack of consummation and
Bigamy