Beginning the Divorce Process in Missouri
Discuss Your Unique Situation with Our Chesterfield Divorce Attorneys
A divorce is a very complicated legal process that affects your family, finances, and you, the spouse, on a deep, psychological level. The choice of an attorney is extremely important in making this process as smooth as possible under the circumstances.
Contact The Roberts Law Firm, P.C. online or by phone at (636) 590-4864 to discuss your situation with one of our experienced Chesterfield divorce lawyers.
Choice of a Lawyer
One of the first basic choices which must be made is to pick a lawyer. What should you look for? Find someone who has a substantial background in family law. Is your lawyer capable of putting your interests first to settle the case if it serves your best interest but capable of trying your lawsuit if that is to your benefit? Make sure your lawyer is honest with you in terms of the costs of the dissolution and any particular problems in your case. Make sure your choice of an attorney is one who you can work with and effectively communicate with. Make sure your lawyer is reasonable and will provide you the best service and advice and not simply litigate the case for no reason.
Selecting the Necessary Documents
The very first step in preparing for dissolution is to obtain copies of all important financial data.
These documents can include:
- Tax returns
- Check registers
- Insurance policies
- Deeds to real estate
- Titles to vehicles
- Brokerage and bank statements
- Statements indicating debts
- Pensions, retirement and IRA documents
In order for the attorney to properly evaluate your case, the first step is to obtain the financial details. Obtaining these documents informally at the beginning of the case can help save money for the client by avoiding some aspects of the discovery process and can avoid the possibility of the opposing party hiding or not fully disclosing the nature and extent of assets or debts.
Mediation can be an extremely helpful way to assist individuals in working through their issues in a case. Typically, a mediator will work with both spouses to attempt to assist in the negotiation of the issues of financial, support, and custody issues. Whether this is a good choice for any particular client depends on the personalities of the spouses, as well the choice of a mediator. This can sometimes not be a beneficial arrangement for one of the spouses if they are not sufficiently informed to make proper decisions concerning financial issues. Generally, a mediator will prepare a proposed agreement and encourage both spouses to take that document to their own attorneys for review. Sometimes the benefit is the parties can avoid costly court battles. However, sometimes the result in a mediated settlement may not ultimately benefit one of the spouses.
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorces
Generally, all cases are contested until such time as they are agreed upon and resolved and then they become uncontested. If you and your spouse already have been capable of arriving at an agreement, the result may be a much speedier, uncontested dissolution.
The Benefits of Negotiation vs. Litigation
Most attorneys will engage in negotiations with the opposing counsel during the course of the dissolution after it has been filed. Sometimes, these negotiations will take the form of meetings at opposing counsel’s office, either with the spouses present or with spouses in another room with the attorneys shuttling back and forth to their respective client. This is typically done if there is an air of animosity or intimidation which is uncomfortable to one of the spouses.
Some courts require mediation. There are numerous potential obstacles to a successful negotiated settlement. These can include anger, greed, bitterness over infidelity, and generally unreasonable behavior due to various emotions. The key to arriving at a fair settlement is approaching the negotiations in a logical and reasonable manner. Some clients prefer to meet and air everything out in the presence of the attorneys and the other spouse. Sometimes the negotiations will take place at the courthouse in the presence of the judge. Often, a settlement conference will be scheduled and the judge will serve in the capacity prior to hearing the evidence of suggesting possible alternatives on contested issues for the parties to discuss with their counsel in order to move the matter forward. The judge may very well give the attorneys a feeling that if the evidence comes out in a certain manner, they would be likely to rule in a certain manner based on the possible evidence which is discussed. If negotiations are ultimately unsuccessful then both parties will produce witnesses, put on evidence, cross-examine, and submit the case based on evidence to the judge for the judge’s decision.
Often, a counselor or therapist can be of great service during the course of the dissolution. The process of dissolution and general issues which arose during the marriage itself can be particularly emotional. The therapist can be great help to the client in helping that client work through whatever their particular emotions are—whether it be anger, guilt, issues relating to their relationship with the children, or any emotions that may exist. Your attorney, friends, or other therapists can often provide a good reference. You should discuss how therapy may or may not affect your dissolution with your attorney.
Certified Public Accountant, Valuation Professionals and Financial Professionals
In the course of the dissolution process, it may be necessary to engage various professionals for purposes of valuing real estate, business values, tracking cash flow, and providing opinions on income and taxes. Your attorney will most likely be particularly well-suited to assist you in picking a qualified professional.
These are some of the few basic issues to be analyzed in commencing the dissolution of marriage process.
Need assistance with a divorce matter? Contact the Chesterfield divorce lawyers at The Roberts Law Firm, P.C. today; call (636) 590-4864 or contact us online.