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Frequently Asked Questions About Family Law in Missouri

Do I need to get divorced in the state (or country) in which I was married?

No. You actually would file a divorce in the state in which you (or your spouse) are residing at the time of filing. In Missouri, you (or your spouse) need to reside in the state for 90 days prior to filing. Find a family law attorney in the state (and county) in which you reside to initiate the process for you.

After I file a divorce how long until I can be divorced?

The state of Missouri requires that 30 days must pass after the filing of the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage before a judge can sign the judgment and grant the divorce. In most courts in Missouri, if you have an attorney, your divorce can be finalized without you having to appear in court as your attorney can file everything and then get the judge's signature on everything for you.

What is the difference between a legal separation and a divorce?

A legal separation and a divorce (Dissolution of Marriage) have all of the same components, custody, support, division of property and debts. The main difference is that with a Legal Separation you are still legally married but are living separately, and neither of you can remarry. People sometimes choose a Legal Separation if they need to separate their finances while they are apart, but there is a possibility that they may get back together, or sometimes because one spouse needs to remain on the other's health insurance, or to continue to receive other spousal benefits. An experienced family law attorney will discuss all of the options with you and help you decide which is best for you.

At what age can children decide which parent they want to live with?

There is no magic age. Once children are close to teen years, their opinion may be considered, but the court will consider many other factors. Your attorney should not speak with your children about this but can go to court and get a Guardian ad Litem (an attorney for the children) appointed for them, who will be able to meet with the children and find out their preferences.

My ex-girlfriend and I split up before our daughter was born. Now she won't let me see my daughter and she says I have no rights because I am not on the birth certificate. But she is coming after me for support. What are my rights?

Without your name on the birth certificate, you don't have a lot of rights. The proceeding through the state for child support will not give you visitation rights with your child. A family law attorney can file a petition with the court to get a declaration that you are the child's father and to establish your visitation rights with your child.

For assistance with all Missouri family law issues, please contact me at 314-226-1428 or by e-mail.