Family Law FAQ’s

What do I need the first time I meet with my lawyer?

We treat the first appointment as an opportunity to get to know you and learn what legal issues you need assistance with.  It is most helpful not to have any distractions the first time we meet.  To that end, it would be best if you did not bring young children to the meeting.

In family law cases, it is smart for you to have a general idea of the family finances.  This includes having a copy of your last three years of tax returns, information regarding all bank accounts of both you and your spouse, and a general idea of the value of major assets including real estate and automobiles.

For modification cases in particular, it would be helpful to bring a copy of the original Judgment (of Dissolution or of Paternity or of Custody and Support) along with a copy of the Settlement Agreement (if any) and the Parenting Plan. 

Also, have a clear outline of the reasons for your modification, including proof to back up those reasons.

If you are bringing papers in for our office to review, please have them as organized as possible.  

I am getting a divorce and all issues are uncontested, how soon can we get the dissolution?

In Missouri, a Court cannot grant a Dissolution until 30 days after a Petition has been filed and your spouse has been properly served with a copy of the Petition.

How long will it take for my divorce to be final?

Most divorces will be resolved anywhere between two months and nine months.  If the case is highly contested and trial is necessary, your matter could take longer than nine months.

What is a Marital Settlement and Separation Agreement?

In dissolutions, this document captures the agreement made between the parties on important issues such as child custody, support, visitation schedule, maintenance, health insurance and medical expenses, and tax exemptions.  Each party signs the agreement and it is signed by the Judge.  If the parties do not come to an agreement on any or all of the issues, a Judge will make the decision.  

What is a Parenting Plan?

This document details the agreement between the parents as to legal and physical custody, parenting time and visitation schedules, child support and other important issues concerning the minor children. 

Who is a Guardian Ad Litem and why is he/she being appointed on my case?

A Guardian Ad Litem (GAL for short) is an attorney who represents the best interests of the child.  The Guardian is an independent advocate for the minor child.  The Court will appoint a Guardian Ad Litem in highly contested cases or where abuse or neglect is alleged.

When can a Judgment be modified?

Courts cannot modify issues relating to property, however, the courts retain jurisdiction to modify issues relating to child custody and child support.   A modification can be considered if there is a substantial and continuing change of circumstances.  The change cannot be only temporary.  A 20% change in a party’s income is grounds for modification of child support.

How is child support determined?

In Missouri, child support is calculated using a document called Form 14.  This calculation includes a number of factors such as the monthly income of each parent, the number of children, health insurance and daycare costs, and the number of overnights the paying parent receives.

What is the difference between divorce and legal separation?

While both have similar processes, in a legal separation the parties remain married.  Although after a legal separation the parties can lead separate lives, the parties are not free to remarry until the marriage is fully dissolved.

What is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)?

A separate legal order entered by a Court as part of a divorce or legal separation that divides benefits in a retirement plan.  The QDRO sets in writing terms of the agreement and specifically states the benefits to be received, how such benefits shall be received, and what happens if one party dies before payments are completed.  Without a QDRO, the spouse or former spouse (“alternate payee”) of the plan participant cannot receive any benefits.  Usually, the alternate payee’s attorney will prepare the QDRO.  

Contact Us

Contact Information

The Wibbenmeyer Law Firm

1049 First Capitol Drive
St. Charles, Missouri 63301
Tel: 636-724-3355
Fax: 636-724-2480

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