COVID-19 Pandemic and Family Law

DIVORCE

DIVORCE WITH KIDS

Paternity

MODIFICATIONS

HIGH CONFLICT

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

LIMITED SCOPE 

DIY DIVORCE

You'll find the experienced help you need at Law In Kansas City.  Whether you are married or single, with children or without children, you may be going through a stressful event in your life.  Lots of people will give you advice, solicited or not, but what you really need is to hire an attorney you can trust. Whether you are ready to file, or an action has already been filed and you find yourself needing a lawyer, we will sit down and go over your options with you. Here at our office, we listen to your concerns. This is your case and you are in control of how we proceed.

The world of Family Law in changing. Additional options are now available for representation and how you pay. Some people are filing their cases on their own which is called PRO SE FILING which is basically a DO YOUR OWN DIVORCE. There are times when this is appropriate. We are working on a course for those filing their case on their own so they pay minimal funds to learn how to file their own case and when they may not want to do so. 

Another option which is becoming more popular is LIMITED SCOPE REPRESENTATION. This means that you only pay for what you need. For example, you may just need the attorney to prepare the Judgment because the Court has not approved yours. It could be that your spouse and their attorney have prepared paperwork and you need to have advice on if the agreement is fair.

Sometimes people have gone to Court for their final hearing and could not meet the requirements of the Judge in their testimony and they were given a date to come back. We can attend a hearing with you for this type of help. The next level of representation is FLAT FEES. This could be appropriate where the Parties already have an agreement and just need an attorney to do all the paperwork, file it with the Court after it has been signed, and attend the hearing with you. 

For most people, their representation is HOURLY BILLING. You would pay an amount up front and then pay additional amounts as needed. This is where you really want to hire a firm that provides you value since paying for information gets expensive. 

 Not matter what your needs may be, we can help. 
In a divorce, there are issues of the division of assets and debts, maintenance (formerly called alimony), and attorney fees. If you have children, we also need to deal with Child Custody, Parenting Time, Child Support, which Parent provides health insurance coverage, who is allowed to claim the child as a dependent, and many other issues which impact the life of your child. 

 Often things like domestic abuse, gambling, infidelity, and  wasting the assets of the Parties comes into play when the Judge makes a decision on the division of assets. There are many factors that play into child custody and parenting time like the age of your child, where the Parties live, are the Parents both in the same school district, work hours of parents, intent to relocate, which parent provides for a greater chunk of the needs of the child (makes meals, provides baths, transportation, involvement in school events, takes to doctor appointments, etc). Your attorney will discuss the specifics of your situation with you to help you determine what custody and parenting plan works best for you

 What is hard is that there are practical issues that need to be addressed which most attorneys do not work on since it may not impact the bottom line of completing your case. While these decisions may not be important to your attorney, they may make a huge difference to you. Also, you need to be prepared quickly to discuss the issues which impact the ability to settle the case or which would require temporary motions to be filed. 

 Our firm will make sure that you understand every step of the process and assist you in making the decisions which are best for you, help you file your case, and be with you every step of the way.  

** For answers to Frequently Asked Questions, see the bottom of the page. If you want our FREE EBook, you can click the link below and we can send it out to you right away.  

DIY Divorce Secrets
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When Parents are not married and they need to make determinations on child custody, parenting time, and child support, they will file a Paternity action. Often there are additional obstacles to parents who have not been married as they may never have lived together and need to develop trust in each other so they can Co-Parent in a way that is a benefit to their child(ren). 

 More and more people are making the choice not to get married these days. The problem is that if both names are on a child's birth certificate, each Parent has equal rights with the child and there is not really any enforceability on what happens with custody until there is an order of the Court. Some people file for child support with the State, but never have legal custody determined. 

 It is very important to take the next step and have all the legal issues determined by a Judge. The court is starting to be more open to equal parenting time (in some Counties more than others). 

 We believe that it is normally best to determine the schedule that is right for your child and your family. Our attorney can help you navigate between the Court may do and what works. Sometimes we have to fight for what you want. Your children are the most important thing to you and we know that you will need help in being creative to find a way to create a plan that meets the needs of your child, creates a positive Co-Parenting environment between the Parties, and provides you as much time as possible with your child.

Child Custody is determined in either a Divorce or Paternity case and can be modified if there is a change in the circumstances of the Parties. Some of the old school presumptions of the roles of moms and dads are changing. Some of this will depend on how active a parent wants to be in a child's life. 

 There are two types of Custody- SOLE CUSTODY and JOINT CUSTODY. In Sole Custody, only one Parent gets to make the LEGAL decisions for the child such as schools, doctors, medical treatment, etc. Sole Custody is granted if a Parent is unfit or unavailable to make decisions. Sometimes you have a Parent who has some mental disorders, substance abuse problems, or for some other reason might be capable or available to make decisions for the minor child. 

 Just because a parent fits within one of those categories does not mean they cannot receive Joint Custody, but the Court could consider these factors in what is the best interest of the child. The rule of thumb is that there needs to be something wrong with a Parent that keeps them from being able to make good decisions for the child; however, sometimes a Parent is not interested in being a Parent. If a Parent is ok with Sole Custody, but may want to have some time with the child, the Court will award this type of custodial arrangement. 

JOINT CUSTODY allows both Parents to have an equal say in the decision of the minor child. Most Parents will have Joint Custody over their children and need to work together for what is best for their child(ren).  The truth is, most of the time people will do what the doctor recommends... so no problem with medical decisions.  There will be determination on which address is used for the mailing address for the child, but that does not mean that a parent can move where they want to live.  They may have to get the other Parent's approval if they want to move far enough away which would make the current schedule not workable.  Really, joint custody is about each Parent being active in the child's life. 

Another factor that has increased in frequency is the inability of one Parent to get along with the other. This can be referred to as HIGH CONFLICT PARENTING. In this instance, one of the Parent's simply has difficulty working with the other parent.  They will not have any insight into what they might be doing wrong and blame the other Parent 100%.  Parallel Parenting sometimes can help-- where each Parents gets to decide what is right for the kids when they are in their care and custody.  Other times it helps to have a mixture of Joint and Sole Custody where one Parent has the ability to make all the decisions in a particular area.   Dealing with this type of issue requires an attorney experienced in High Conflict as often the approaches are very different than in a normal case.  We also highly recommend that the children be in counseling and each Parent does a bit more homework on how to use specific tools to minimize the arguing and improving the communication between them.  

The next part of this equation is which Parent will receive the coveted "address of the child for educational and mailing purposes." What this means is which address will be used to register the child for school. While the law does say that the Parent where the child has been living for the last 6 months will receive the presumption until there is another order of the Court, many times the child has been living with both Parents before their separation. You should discuss whether you should file the family law case first and how we can determine what will happen until there is an order of the Court.  

While some Courts are slow to adopt equal parenting time, this is certainly the trend in family law.  Younger parents seem to be very open to having a 50/50 schedule as much as their work schedules allow.  This can certainly impact child support or if any support is even paid.  Therefore, before agreements are made, Parents need to remember it is important for the child to have a good living environment in both homes.  

Your attorney can help you make the choice of which type of custody is right for you.  
Child Support
Missouri Statutes:
Never Married Parents

Missouri Rules of Civil Procedure


The State of Missouri has a child support chart called the FORM 14. The amount of child support is calculated based on the income of the Parties, whether either Party has additional children living with them in the home, whether either Party pays or receives child support, if there are any child care costs being paid, the cost of health insurance for the child, other extra ordinary expenses for the child, and the percentage of time the Party paying child support spends with the time. The Parenting Time Credit is based off overnights with the child. 

 While the chart is numbers, there are some additional legal issues that play into whether a number goes into the chart or not, what the amount of income should be, etc. The amount of income does need to be above a minimum number for the overnight credit to apply. While the Form 14 does calculate the presumption of child support, the Court can rebut it based on an agreement of the Parties or other factors that would make paying that amount unfair. Not being able to afford the support is not a factor considered in rebutting the presumption. It is important to have an attorney work with you on what is an appropriate amount of child support.
Modification of Judgement

Often, there is a need to change something in a Judgment. The standard is there needs to be a "significant change in circumstances." This could be due to a move by one Party which makes the Plan no longer practical or, if they have moved back into the area, the age of the child has changed and a new plan is preferable, the child has started school and the old plan is not working, there are other issues going on with the child, a strain has developed with the relationship of the child and a parent, or there needs to be an update on the amount of child support being paid. One of the children could have graduated high school or turned 21 and are no emancipated.  

Whatever the reason, if there needs to be a change in parenting time, custody, or child support, a modification needs to be filed.  If the Parties agree on the changes, they can file a Stipulated Modification which is much faster and less expensive.  
Family Access Motion

This is an option for a Parent who is being denied their Parenting time AFTER there is already a Judgment in either a Divorce or Paternity case. The Court has set this up so the individual does not have to hire an attorney; however, you may want to do so as often you may want to file a Motion to Modify as well.

This process is to help get the parenting back on track and monitor that a Parent and child are able to have significant time with each other.  The Judge's are very protective of a Parent's rights to see their children.  

The State has very specific rules on what must be done if a Parent is moving. Pursuant to the Missouri relocation statute (R.S.Mo. § 452.377), a parent cannot relocate a child’s principal residence for a period of 90 days or more without notifying the other parent 60 days in advance of the relocation. The notice must be sent CERTIFIED MAIL. We suggest that you also send this by text, email, and regular mail. We also suggest you call the other Parent to discuss this move. If there needs to be a change of school district or an alteration to Parenting Time, you are required to put this information in the notice along with the actual new address and change to contact information. 

 If you receive a notice and you object to the move, you only have 14 days to send a letter notifying of your objection. You will also want to file a Motion with the Court to prevent the move. There are some exceptions to this rule due to domestic violence; however, if you don't have an Order saying you do not have to provide the notice, you should talk to an attorney to see if you might qualify to avoid sending the notice. This is very important as the consequence of failing to send the notice EVEN IF THE PARTIES ARE GETTING ALONG AND COMMUNICATE REGULARLY, is the Court to require you to move back to the area or changing the educational and mailing address of the minor child. Further, if you do not object in time, you might be out of luck and stuck with a long distance parenting plan.  

If you would like to receive your FREE RELOCATION GUIDE, click the link below.
Missouri Statutes:
Temporary Relief
Judgment-1 or 2 years
 10-30 Years Jail if A Felony; 10-15 Years Jail if B Felony
 Max 7 years Jail
Max 4 years Jail
 Max 1 Year Jail


1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.  This is a HUGE statistic.  In order to stay safe, often you need to file for an Order of Protection.  Sadly, it often takes a person 7 times before they leave the home.  Reasons vary such a financial constraints, no place to go, fear of greater violence against them, waiting for children to get older, or a feeling that they don't deserve better and what is happening to them is their fault.  Another big cause is due to a mental illness or substance abuse issue with their significant other.  They keep hoping the person will be better.  Often there is a plea that they will seek counseling or some other step which might keep their partner tied to them a little longer.  

Whatever the reason, know that ABUSE IS NOT YOUR FAULT.  

You are good enough.

You are strong.

We can find you a place to live.

We can find you financial help to get back on your feet again.

It is important to have an action plan on how you will leave in place before you need it.  There are tons of resources we can provide to help you make the decision that you are ready to leave and move on to a better life. 

Need Help?

CAUTION:  If you believe someone might have access to your phone or computer, use a trusted friend or family members device, phone at your child's school, public library, use a house phone at a hotel, go directly to the police department, call from your church, other other safe facility.  Make sure to DELETE your browser history (this is not 100% safe).  Have these numbers saved into your phone if you ever need them or might need them on behalf of a friend or family member.  
  • National Abuse Hotline: 1-800-799-7233;  Home Page; Services for those who are Deaf-- 321-800-3323 or text HAND to 839863
  • Missouri Coalition of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault:   Home Page
  • Missouri Department of Social Services: Information
  • Kansas City Police Department Domestic Violence UnitHome Page
  • Northland Human Services DirectoryHome Page  Shelter Hotline  816- HOTLINE / 468-5463
  • ​Rose BrooksHome Page
  • Synergy:  Home Page
Why Choose Us?
It is important to find your right fit when hiring an attorney. You need someone you feel comfortable with and who you like. Law In Kansas City goes beyond what normal firms provide. Our primary goal is to make sure you feel comfortable and have the best information possible when making your decisions. Of course, the main objective is to provide you with great legal representation and work with you to obtain the results you want. We excel in providing VALUE beyond the money you are spending on your case. Our firm has EBooks, White Pages, Resource handouts, emails on specific issues so you don't pay for basic information, and we are working on Facebook groups and Member Areas to have information at your fingertips so you have answers without even asking a question. We have videos to help walk you through the process as well. All this is added into your representation for FREE. Our firm is out of the box for sure and we think you will love all the things we have to offer.  

If you are looking for the cheapest firm, we are probably not the right fit for you. If you are looking for great legal advice, the most value for your money, and great communication with the firm, you have found the right place for you. You will love our staff! From every phone call that is answered, every email that is sent, and all conference with our firm, you will see that we do everything we can to provide you with the best experience and friendly service. Our goal is to treat you like family. Plus you will have qualified and experienced staff to work with you on your case. Our attorney has been practicing for 25 years and our family law paralegal has been in family law for a long time as well.  

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