Missouri law provides a safety net for victims of abuse. If you are the subject of abuse, stalking, or credible threats against your safety or the safety of your child, you may be granted an ex-parte order of protection. Once you are granted an order of protection, a court date is set. The person who is accused of the abuse is served with the paperwork and is allowed to come to court on the court date and defend against the accusations.
If you are the mother or the father of a child and you were never married to that child’s other parent; you need a Court order to establish your rights as a parent. Just because dad’s name is on the birth certificate does not legally establish his rights or responsibilities as a parent. For your own protection and that of your child, be you the child’s mother or father, it is absolutely necessary for that child’s custody and support to be established. Even though you may be living together, a paternity order will protect the child should one of you die.
In Missouri, custody is normally joint legal and physical with one parent’s address used for educational and mailing purposes. This leaves a great deal of leeway for the parents to create a custodial arrangement which is in the best interests of their child. Of course, regrettably, parents cannot always agree on what is best for the child, and the Courts have to make the decision.
Child support is calculated using a statewide formula which takes into consideration the gross income of each parent, child care expenses, health insurance expenses, and other ongoing, necessary expenses that the child may have. Although this calculation is most often followed, there are circumstances under which it can be modified.
Whether you have minor children, your children are grown, or you and your spouse do not have children, even if you’ve been married for a short period of time, the proper documents must be prepared to divide your property and/or protect any property that is non-marital (not acquired during the marriage or inherited during the marriage and kept separately).
Divorce/Dissolution of Marriage
Dissolution of Marriage (what Missouri calls divorce) is a complex legal action which affects every aspect of your family – child custody and support, division of the property you have acquired during the marriage, and can include a provision for grandparent visitation rights.