Divorce Law Frequently Asked Questions
How Quickly Can I get Divorced?
A court can grant a divorce thirty days after the other spouse has been served. Of course, the courts are not always available on day 31 to grant a divorce. Generally, a divorce granted this fast is usually done by an agreement where the spouses have worked out all their issues. Occasionally, a divorce can also be granted where the other spouse simply fails to participate which is fine in cases where there are no assets, debts, and children and people simply need to be divorced.
How Much Will the Divorce Cost?
The cost of a divorce is generally driving by how much time we spend working on the case. A divorce where the spouses have agreed upon all the issues is going to cost substantially less than a divorce where the spouse doesn’t agree or is not speaking to the other. We do not have the ability to make a spouse agree to a divorce settlement. Some spouses are simply disagreeable. The more complicated issues will result in more time in a case. Divorces that involve businesses, substantial investments, and retirement accounts, and issues of child abuse or neglect are generally more complex and require more time.
We charge a fee deposit. The fee is deposited into our trust account. We then bill the time we spent working on the case and subtract from the fee deposit at the end of the month. We then generate a billing statement at the beginning of the following month that shows the time we spent working on the case, what we earned, and the balance of the remaining fee deposit. If we can resolve the case by a settlement and there is money remaining in the trust account, then the person who paid the deposit will receive a partial refund of the unearned deposit. If the time spent working on the divorce case exceeds the initial fee deposit or if the divorce continues to trial, an additional fee deposit will be required.
What Can I Do to Help Save Money During Divorce?
We allow our clients to help by collecting documents and evidence that we generally need in a divorce. Certainly, we have the ability to obtain most of the information we need through discovery, but to the extent that our client is willing to help, this can be a cost savings feature that may allow us to consider settlement much earlier in a case.
It’s helpful to collect all the financial information that you can obtain in advance of filing for a divorce. This will include bank account statements, retirement account information, tax returns, and pay stubs. Be sure to obtain your spouse’s financial information. If your spouse owns or has an interest in a business, it’s helpful to obtain the tax returns for the business. If you don’t know anything about the finances in your relationship, you need to attempt to educate yourself. You also need to obtain the documents of the marital debt that is owed.
How Do I Start the Proceedings for a Divorce?
A divorce begins by filing a petition with the court. Your attorney will draft the petition for the dissolution of marriage based upon the information you provide. We will also draft the other documents that the court requires based upon the information that you provide. For example, spouses may have children together. We will create a parenting plan which will contain a child custody schedule. In order to prepare a parenting plan, we will need information from you. We obtain this information after meeting with you and also through additional documentation we provide once we have been hired in your case. You should give some thought to the following questions:
- What kind of parent is your spouse?
- What kind of relationship does your child have with his father or mother?
- Does the child have any special needs? What?
- What kind of custody schedule do you envision creating, i.e. where will your children live?
- Why do you want that particular custody schedule?
- What is your plan for exercising custody during the holidays?
- Where will the children attend school?
How Quickly Can I File for Divorce?
A person must have been a resident of the state of Missouri for at least ninety days before you can file a petition for divorce. Generally speaking, the children must have been residents of the state of Missouri for six months before the courts have jurisdiction of a child. Therefore, divorces with children are treated differently than divorces without children.
We can prepare the petition and accompany documents for filing with the court in a matter of a day, assuming that we have all the information from you that we need to draft the petition and accompanying documents.
Have You Considered the Consequences of a Divorce?
A divorce is a life-altering experience. People separating in a divorce will often experience a change in lifestyle transitioning from a two-income household to a one-income household. Life is going to be different. You need to plan accordingly.
Some people will have lived separately and apart before filing for divorce. Those spouses have usually divided up many of their assets and debts. For people still living together who are contemplating divorce, the process can be more cumbersome.
What Is the Difference Between a Contested Divorce and an Uncontested Divorce?
Divorces are either the divorce is contested or uncontested. An uncontested divorce occurs where both spouses reach an agreement on all their issues such as who is receiving what assets and who is taking certain debts. This would include an agreement as to child custody and child support where children are involved. We will prepare a settlement agreement. Uncontested divorces are generally resolved faster and cheaper than a contested divorce.
A contested divorce occurs where spouses are unable to agree. A contested divorce involves a trial. A trial is where evidence is presented to the judge. The evidence will include hearing from both spouses along with any other witnesses. The judge will receive documents that are presented. A judge listens to the evidence and then the judge decides the outcome.
Assuming your spouse is not a narcissist, it’s helpful to discuss the subject of a divorce before filing for divorce. Discussing divorce with your spouse before filing for divorce can help you gauge whether your spouse also wants the divorce or if he or she is going to contest it.
Can We Use Just One Lawyer for our Divorce?
We do not represent both spouses in a divorce. We can only have one client. In a divorce, there is too much risk that spouses disagree, even if the spouses initially believe they have an agreement worked out. For example, if a meeting were to occur where both spouses were present and one spouse would ask a question that is harmful to the other spouse, and that spouse would not want us to answer the question, then there is a conflict. Consequently, we do not represent both spouses. And we will not meet with both spouses.
We frequently will draft all the divorce documents and settlement documents for our client. Our client can then present the proposed settlement to the other spouse for his or her review and signature. This is a method that we frequently use to resolve divorces quickly where our client believes the divorce can be resolved by an agreement. This way, we maintain our duty of loyalty to our clients. But, we also provide the service that our client needs which is to get the divorce resolved efficiently and cost-effectively.
Have Other Questions?
Sit down with Scott during a scheduled one-on-one consultation over the specifics of your case and have all of your questions answered.
Contact the law office of Scott Hamblin to get started with an experienced attorney in the fields of family law, criminal defense, and personal injury.