Divorce Lawyers in St. Louis
Helping Our Clients Obtain a Fresh Start
The decision to end a marriage is never an easy one, but it is sometimes unavoidable. Once this decision is made by either spouse, each party should take the necessary legal steps to protect their assets and minor children.
At Lake Munro, our St. Louis divorce attorneys can effectively guide you through this process to ensure the fair representation and advocacy of your best interests and goals.
Schedule your complimentary consultation! Call our divorce lawyers in St. Louis at (314) 648-2186 today. We serve clients across St. Louis from our office in Clayton, MO.
Filing for Divorce in St. Louis County
Once you have decided that divorce is the correct option for your situation, you must file the paperwork necessary to begin this legal proceeding. The exact forms could vary depending on the courthouse you choose, but our attorney will ensure you complete and file the appropriate documents.
After you have filed the paperwork, you must serve the other party with papers to allow them to respond.
Once there has been a response, Missouri law requires both parties to disclose all:
- Marital expenses
Once the pertinent information is exchanged, the parties can either work on a settlement together or with the help of a judge.
Missouri’s Marital Property Laws
The state of Missouri operates under a "dual-property" law. This means that the court divides property based on what they consider to be marital and non-marital. Marital property is all property and assets acquired during the course of the marriage. The court will divide this property between the two parties, unless either can prove that it should be non-marital. For example, if one party received an inheritance while married, the court could classify this as non-marital property.
Non-marital property is not divided between the spouses because the court views these assets as belonging to one person rather than both people. Additionally, any pre or postnuptial agreements may factor into the judge’s decision so if you have assets you would like to protect, this document may be the right choice for you.
Dividing Property and Assets in a Divorce
While all marital assets are subject to division during a divorce, all separate property is not. Anything that you obtained or accumulated before marrying your spouse or after filing for divorce is considered separate property. Therefore, if you purchased a gun, for example, before your trip down the aisle, it would likely be separate property and you would keep it. That said, if you still owed money on certain assets, such as a gun, a car, or another asset you could not pay in full at the time, the funds you used during your marriage to finish these payments may blur the lines between separate and marital property in court.
Below are some of the factors a judge will consider when dividing assets and property:
- The economic circumstances of each spouse, including their prospects for future income.
- How much each spouse contributed in terms of acquired property throughout the marriage.
- The value of each spouse’s separate property.
- Each spouse’s behavior during the marriage. For example, if one spouse wasted marital assets, the other spouse may be awarded a larger share to make up for the loss.
- Custodial arrangements you may have for any minor children.
After examining these factors, and anything else that may be pertinent to this matter, a judge will assign marital property, assets, and even debts.
Proving that your property is separate can be a complex task and, in Missouri, a principle known as the “source of funds rule” is followed. Essentially, it means that, when determining separate and marital property, a judge will examine who paid for the property and how.
Do I Need a Divorce Attorney?
If you are involved in a Missouri divorce case, consulting an experienced St. Louis divorce lawyer is essential. Court procedures and laws can be complex, especially if you have significant assets, a pre- or postnuptial agreement, or minor children. The Clayton divorce attorneys of Lake Munro is well-versed in the intricacies of the divorce process and are here to advise you.
Providing Skilled & Compassionate Legal Counsel
At Lake Munro, our divorce attorneys in St. Louis County care about you and do everything we can to ensure we understand and pursue the goals and needs of our clients. We will work with you to create a strong and realistic strategy for your case and represent your best interests both in and out of the courtroom.