Beginning the Process of Divorce

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Missouri Process of Divorce Attorney

St. Louis Divorce Lawyers

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.

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, appraisals, statements indicating debts, pension, retirement and IRA documents and any number of financial records particular to your case. 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 attorney’s 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.

Is my divorce contested or uncontested?

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 a Agreement the result may be a much speedier, uncontested dissolution.

Should my case be litigated or negotiated in order to conclude it?

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 attorney’s 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 client’s 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 generally 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 or 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, providing opinions on income and taxes. Probably your attorney will 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.

Contact Us for More Information

Divorce legal matters? Our St. Louis metro area lawyers have over 25 years of family law experience. Send us an e-mail or call us at 636-530-9199.

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The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.