Frequently Asked Family Law Questions
Question: How much will this cost?
Well, it depends. Legal costs largely depend upon the complexity of a case, the specific issues involved, and how much each party is (un)willing to compromise. The attorney will discuss fees during the initial consultation, including the amount of the advance fee required to begin working on a case. An advance fee is the amount of money required and deposited into a trust account and withdrawn monthly to cover the fees and costs of a case. The advance fee will need replenishing once depleted.
Question: How long will my case take?
Generally, there is a minimum waiting period (usually 30 days) after the opposing party is served with a petition. If the parties resolve everything and have a written agreement filed with the court within that waiting period, then soon thereafter the Judge could sign off on the case. The Judge, however, will not finalize a case until all issues are resolved, either by the court or in a written agreement. Thus, even though the waiting period may be up, the Judge will not finalize a case until all issues are resolved. If parties do not enter into an agreement, then the case proceeds to trial, which may take up to a year or longer.
Question: What is mediation?
If the parties believe they can negotiate the issues in their case directly with each other, the Judge may order the parties to attend two hours of mediation with a neutral party. The Judge maintains a list of approved mediators (usually an attorney or therapist), and appoints a mediator from the list. This method saves time and money, and the parties may develop a more acceptable resolution than if the issues were left to the Judge to decide.
Question: What are the grounds for divorce?
The standard is that there is no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved, and therefore the marriage is irretrievably broken. It is possible the other party does not agree. If such a disagreement arises, then the other party must show at least one of a variety of situations under Missouri law (e.g. adultery; abandonment for more than six months; etc.). A finding of “fault” is not required, although it does play a role.
Question: Should I represent myself?
This is a question that only the party can decide. The person may consider representing him or herself in cases where there is no property to divide, no children to consider, or when the parties agree on absolutely every issue. It is always wise to have an attorney review or prepare a final written agreement before submitting it to the court. When children are involved, a person should consider an initial consultation as the complexities inherent in parenting plans and child support can be difficult to navigate alone. Financially it may be less expensive initially for a person to represent him or herself, but inexperience with the court system and laws may lead to difficult or unintended results. In situations when it becomes necessary to hire an attorney to help the person out of a predicament, this often becomes more expensive than if the person hired an attorney from the beginning stages.
Question: How is child support calculated?
Child support is determined by Missouri Supreme Court rules and Missouri law, using a formula in a document commonly called a Form 14. The theory behind Missouri’s child support laws is that a child should be entitled to the same standard of living had the parties stayed together. Thus, child support is determined based on the gross (before tax) combined income of both parties. Adjustments may then be made for costs such as health insurance premiums and daycare, as well as a percentage credit for overnight periods the child spends with the paying parent.
Frequently Asked Injury Law Questions
Question: I was injured in an auto accident, caused by a negligent driver, can I recover damages?
Yes. If you were injured in an auto accident, caused by another driver, you may be entitled to damages for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Question: I was injured in an auto accident caused by an uninsured driver; can I still recover damages?
Yes. All drivers in Missouri are required to carry uninsured motorist coverage. You and or your passengers may be entitled to recover from your uninsured carriers. This can be a complicated process, therefore, you should consult an Injury attorney immediately to ensure you are fairly compensated.
Question:I was injured in an auto accident caused by another driver. I have underinsured coverage; will my insurance company cover all or part of my damages?
Maybe. If you were injured in automobile accident, and the wrongdoers insurance coverage is not sufficient to cover your losses, your underinsured coverage may cover some or all of the deference. Insurance companies often times give their own clients the run around or deny coverage.
Question: I was injured several years ago, can I still make a claim for damages?
Maybe. The Statute of Limitations in Missouri can be complicated and difficult to understand. If you have been injured in an accident of any kind, you should contact an injury attorney immediately to determine your rights regarding recovery.
Question: I was injured while I was on the property of a business or private individual; can I recover damages?
Maybe. Premises liability is a complicated area of law. If you have been injured while on the property of another, you may be able to recover damages for medical care, lost wages, pain and suffering and more.
Question: A family member was killed as a result of an accident; can I as a family member sue to recover damages?
Who can sue in the event of a wrongful death of a family member is controlled by Missouri Statute. Wrongful death claims are very complicated and should be handled by an injury attorney. If a family member was killed in accident, you should consult with an injury attorney immediately.