Frequently Asked Questions about Family Law (FAQ)
Content Reviewed by Kristin Siegel, JD | Attorney at Law
The law firm of Leonard Rodarte Siegel LLC located in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, serves Jackson, Clay, Cass, Platte, Johnson, Lafayette, and Other Surrounding Counties. Our firm practices family law, including divorce, child custody and support, paternity, orders of protection and modifications. We are also trained in mediations.
I have been served with a summons. What now?
If you have been served by a sheriff’s deputy or private process server, it is important that you contact an attorney right away. There are important deadlines that must be met to ensure that your rights are protected, and the clock starts ticking once you have been served.
I am preparing to file for divorce. Where should I start?
It is important that you take early action, even if you do not expect to file for divorce right away. Create a file that includes information about bank accounts, credit card invoices, investment account summaries, retirement assets, etc., so that your attorney will have a clear picture of the assets and debts to be divided. If you have children, you should not involve them in disputes related to the divorce. Divorce creates a period of difficult transition for children. Both you and your spouse should work hard to ensure that the divorce does not create unnecessary disruption in the lives of your children.
How long will my divorce take?
The time it will take to finalize a divorce depends on the issues present in a specific case. Our law firm has a policy of working diligently to complete cases within 6 months whenever possible.
When can a judgement be modified?
The standard for the modification of any judgment is a substantial and continuing change in circumstances. Generally, a change in circumstances is substantial and continuing when it has a significant impact on the judgment and the change is not merely temporary. A modification of custody or parenting time may be sustained whenever it would serve the best interest of the child.
What is a parenting plan?
A parenting plan is a legal document that provides for legal and physical custody, parenting time, child support, and other important issues that concern how you and the other party will co-parent. A parenting plan must be ordered in cases where divorcing parents have minor children, in paternity actions, and in modifications where custody and parenting time are at issue.
What is a Guardian ad Litem?
A Guardian ad Litem is an attorney who represents the best interest of the child. In highly contested custody cases where abuse or neglect is alleged by one or both parents, a Guardian ad Litem is appointed by the court to ensure that the best interest of the child is protected.
How is maintenance determined?
Spousal support is referred to as maintenance in Missouri. When determining whether a maintenance award is appropriate, the court will examine a variety of factors, including the ability of the party seeking maintenance to meet his or her needs independently, the earning capacity of each spouse, the standard of living established during the marriage, the obligations and assets of each party, the length of the marriage, and the educational and employment history of the parties.
How is child support determined?
In Missouri, child support is calculated using a document called a Form 14. The amount of child support depends on a number of factors, including: the monthly income earned by each parent, the number of children, and the children’s overnight stays with the parent paying support. Child support may also be affected by work-related daycare, health insurance, or other extraordinary costs incurred for the children. In divorce cases, a maintenance award may also affect the amount of the child support obligation.
If my case is contested does that mean that there will be a trial?
Simply because a case is designated “contested” does not automatically mean that there will be a trial. A trial is generally a last resort when settlement negotiation or mediation is unsuccessful. While many contested cases do reach a successful settlement, sometimes a trial becomes necessary to obtain a successful resolution.