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Family matters like marriage, divorce and childcare are heavily influenced by emotions, which can make for messy disputes and total breakdowns. Missouri's family laws provide rules and regulations that help keep legal proceedings for things like alimony, child support and property disputes focused on resolution and protect each individual family member's rights.
If you have a family law case in Chesterfield, St. Louis, Kansas City or elsewhere in Missouri, LawInfo is your source for information and legal help. LawInfo's Missouri Family Law section includes legal overviews, summaries of state laws and other resources to help you make the right decisions for you and your family.
If you need help navigating the complex laws governing your case, a Missouri family law attorney can help and treat your case with the sensitivity it deserves.
As you and your partner are about to take the next step in your relationship, be aware that Missouri prohibits certain marriages. While marriage seems like a private choice, Missouri's family laws take health, ethical and criminal concerns into consideration. These are the types of marriages Missouri prohibits:
Before your wedding day, you will need to apply for a Missouri marriage license. The license officiates your marriage under Missouri law, which will help you and your partner later when applying for family-exclusive benefits.
You and your partner do not need to be Missouri residents to apply for a Missouri marriage license. To apply, you and your partner will need to appear before a County Recorder or Deputy, provide the requested personal information, complete the application and pay a fee. The marriage license is issued in the same day when you apply and is valid in any Missouri county for 30 days.
Marriages end for a variety of reasons, some of which can lead to complicated legal battles over child custody and property ownership. In Missouri, however, you don't need to prove a specific reason for a marriage's end to qualify for a dissolution (i.e. divorce).
Missouri is known as a "no-fault" divorce state. As such, the court only needs to find that a marriage has become irretrievably broken without assigning blame to either spouse. If there's evidence that a marriage may be salvaged at a later date, the court may grant a legal separation instead of a dissolution.
If you and your ex can't agree on how to divide your marital property between yourselves, the court may make the decision for you. While it may seem like the court may make the easy decision to split the difference evenly, Missouri courts may choose to distribute property in uneven proportions based on what's fair.
An uneven split of your marital property happens because Missouri is not a "community property" state—it doesn't recognize that each spouse shares equal ownership to marital property.
Instead, Missouri is an "equitable distribution" state. This means that when dividing and distributing marital property fairly, the court considers several factors, including:
Whether you need a family law attorney depends on a number of factors specific to your case. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. Few couples need a lawyer to get married but attorneys may be required if there's a prenuptial agreement involved.
Individuals often benefit from hiring an attorney when dealing with divorce, child support, and especially child custody matters. Because emotions can run high during some divorces, hiring an attorney to negotiate and resolve difficult issues can be invaluable.
Many lawyers offer free initial consultations, so it may be worth your time to speak with an experienced Missouri family law attorney if you have additional questions.
Even the most common family law issue can be intensely stressful. A knowledgeable family lawyer can guide you through the process. An attorney will coach you on how to proceed and give expert guidance on hearings, trials and enforcing court orders. Take the first step now and talk to an experienced local family attorney.