Divorce or dissolution:
This is where two people who are married get their marriage dissolved. Within a divorce, there are several issues a court must consider before granting the dissolution. What marital assets are there? What marital debts are there? Missouri is a marital property state, so anything that was purchased or any debt entered into by either party (for the most part) is considered marital property and must be divided by the parties at the end of the marriage. Not all property is included as marital property however; anything brought into the marriage before the wedding is non-marital property, anything gifted to an individual party during the marriage is considered non-marital property (this includes wedding rings), and anything inherited by one party is considered non-marital property.
Once the court establishes what the total marital assets and debts are, that property is chopped in half. Even in cases where one party is abusive, a drug addict, and has caused the break down of the marriage, the court is likely only going to split the marital property 60%-40% in one party's favor.
Next, parties are not allowed to dissolve their marriage if one of the parties is pregnant. It is against public policy to "bastardize" a child, so the court will require a legal separation instead. At the end of the pregnancy, the parties can easily convert a legal separation into a dissolution, with the added cost of adding a parenting plan, which brings us to our last subject, custody.
If you had kids during your marriage, the court must enter a parenting plan to say who is to receive visitation at what time, who is to pay for insurance, day care, college, uninsured medical expenses, and whether the parties will share joint legal custody (decision-making power) or one party will have sole legal custody. (Sometimes one party will have sole legal decision making power on a few areas of the child's life, such as education, medical, or sports.)
The court will also decide how to break up businesses if the business is marital property, maintenance to one spouse (called alimony in other states) and much more than a short blog entry can detail, though I hope to write more on all of these subjects soon.
If you are looking for an experienced family law attorney for your divorce in Branson, Nixa, Ozark, Christian County, Taney County, Stone County, or anywhere in the surrounding area of Southwest Missouri, please schedule a consultation today by calling The Garrett Law Firm at (417) 221-4113 or by clicking "Contact Us" above.