Divorce & Child Custody
Divorce or dissolution of marriage is emotionally difficult, even under the best circumstances. Emotionally charged issues you face include the custody of your children (who we know mean the world to you), dividing of financial assets accumulated during the marriage, and supporting yourself.
Divorcing spouses can part on good terms if both individuals know how they want to divide shared possessions and how they want their children to grow up. Divorce, in situations such as this, can still be emotionally difficult.
When spouses do not agree on division of assets and custody issues, the divorce process can be one of the darkest periods in a person’s life. A divorce attorney at the Earnshaw & Cownie Law Firm understands that, more than anything, you want to put this crisis behind you. We can help you do that.Services Provided by a Divorce Attorney at Our Firm
An experienced divorce attorney at our firm will work with you to help you make decisions about the custody and support of your children. As you work through issues of legal and physical custody, an experienced divorce attorney at our firm will guide you to help you make choices that make sense for your family.Your Children
When parents can set aside their personal differences and work together for the best interest of their children, the court will generally grant them joint legal custody. This means that mom and dad retain the roles of mom and dad in making decisions for their children.
Where the parents are sharing significant amounts of time with their children, the courts generally grant them joint physical custody. Joint physical custody doesn’t necessarily mean that parents are evenly sharing time with their children.
The Missouri legislature recognizes that children are important to divorcing couples, just as they are to parents who remain together. For that reason, the Missouri legislature has enacted their preference for joint legal and joint physical custody.
Unfortunately, joint custody is sometimes a bad idea. For those families, there is sole custody – which can be both sole legal custody as well as sole physical custody. We can assist you in fashioning a parenting plan that works for your family.
Every family is different. What works beautifully for one may spell catastrophe for another. If you and your child’s other parent can’t decide how to divide custody, a skilled attorney helps you look out for your interests as well as the best interests of your children.
A divorce attorney at our law firm can help in this representation.Visitation Issues
When a child lives with one parent, the other parent will normally have parenting time, which is often called “visitation.” Plans for parent visitation, grandparent visitation or other visitation arrangements are as unique as the families that follow them.
Creating a plan that works well is crucial for family stability. Having a skilled divorce attorney to guide you will increase your chances for a workable parenting plan.Child Support
Noncustodial parents will normally be required to pay child support. In Missouri, child support does not necessarily end at age 18: f the child attends college or other postsecondary education, he or she may be eligible for child support up to the age of 21.
Child support may also be modified if there are significant changes in the incomes (or certain child-related expenses) of the parents, or upon the emancipation of a child.Financial Issues – Spousal Support or Maintenance (Alimony)
A spouse who has been out of the workforce for an extended period of time, usually to raise their family, has the extra worry of providing for their own support when divorcing. While both spouses have a duty to try to become self-supporting, a spouse who has been out of the workforce for a number of years is frequently not able to become self-supporting quickly – and sometimes cannot become self-supporting ever.
In Missouri, the courts’ preference is to award permanent, modifiable maintenance where maintenance is awarded. Spousal support is not, as you might suppose, awarded in every case in which it might be called for. There are many elements to awarding spousal support which also include the following two-part test:
- The first part of the test is whether the one spouse needs the support. The second part is whether the employed spouse can afford to pay support – and what amount the spouse can afford to pay.
- Spousal support is certainly not a cut-and-dried issue.
Issues involving the division of assets and debts range from the relatively simple to the truly complex. Some families have only accumulated a couple of cars and a small bank account. Other families have complicated assets, such as pension plans, 401(k) plans, specialized executive compensation plans and/or trusts in addition to other assets. Still other families are suffering with the current economic climate and need guidance as to how to divide up debt.
The starting place for any division of property between spouses is a fifty-fifty division. However, as you might imagine, an even division, while it is equitable in the majority of situations, is not equitable in all situations. Sometimes one spouse or the other has done something that would justify an uneven distribution of the property.Mediation
Mediation is a process that is required in some divorces and optional in others. It provides you and your spouse an opportunity to sit down with a neutral attorney trained in mediation to discuss the children and financial issues. At the Earnshaw & Cownie Law Firm, a divorce attorney prepares you for mediation. We believe that when spouses can reach agreement on the issues affecting finances and their children, then everyone benefits.We’ve been helping people through divorce for 34 years. We can help you, too.Learn More
If you need to start, or your spouse has started, a divorce or other family law action, contact Earnshaw & Cownie Law Firm or Call (816) 246-4429 – We look forward to serving you.
Proudly serving Kansas City and the surrounding areas.