FAQs 2018-06-29T03:28:24+00:00


Is there a charge for my initial consultation? 2018-05-22T19:45:55+00:00

There is no charge for the initial consultation with your attorney. The initial consultation is an opportunity for you to meet your attorney, discuss your overall goals, and determine if you and your attorney are the right fit. If you decide to proceed with our representation, we may also discuss attorneys’ fees and costs going forward at your initial meeting.

What should I bring to my consultation with my Family Advocates Law Firm attorney? 2018-04-19T15:48:17+00:00

Your first consultation is an opportunity to meet your attorney, express your concerns, and determine if you and your attorney will be a good fit to work together going forward. To make the most of your first meeting, it is recommended that you write down any questions you have for your attorney prior to the meeting.

You may also wish to bring with you an overview of your financial picture, including a listing of your assets and debts. However, it is not necessary to discuss the specifics of your assets and debts during your first meeting.

Prior to your meeting, consider some of the goals you hope to accomplish in the near future. This will allow you and your attorney to strategize and discuss next steps.

What documents will my attorney ask me to gather during the separation or divorce process? 2018-04-30T20:21:04+00:00

Your lawyer will likely ask you to obtain a copy of the following documents:

  • All real property deeds;
  • Mortgage information;
  • Savings, checking, stock certificates, bonds, and brokerage statements;
  • Current payroll statement for you and your spouse;
  • Prior three (3) years of tax returns;
  • Insurance policies, pension, and retirement plan statements;
  • Vehicle registrations;
  • Net worth estimates or valuations;
  • Debts and liabilities statements;
  • Any written agreements with your spouse; and
  • Estimated value of household goods.

The majority of the documents set forth above will be required to file for legal separation or dissolution in Missouri. You and your attorney will work together to determine if additional documents are needed as you navigate through the process.

What do I do if I have been served papers? 2018-04-30T20:21:44+00:00

It is important that you speak with an attorney promptly. Depending on the civil process, you will likely need to file a formal answer or appear in Court to respond. You may suffer serious consequences if you ignore service. Your attorney will advise you on next steps upon review of the paperwork.

What do I do if I or my children are being abused? 2018-04-30T20:23:36+00:00

Abuse can take many forms, and if you believe you being abused, there is help. In any emergency situation, call the police. The police will help you and your children get to a safe place.

In addition, you can go to the courthouse and request an Order of Protection from the Court to protect you going forward. A full Order of Protection prohibits the person who it is issued against from further acts, attempts or threats of abuse, stalking, or sexual assault. Your request may also seek relief such as spousal support, child custody, and child support. The full Order of Protection may be issued for a specific time frame, which is at least 180 days.

Your request for an Order of Protection will be presented to the Judge immediately after filing. If you are found to be in imminent danger, the Judge will issue an ex parte (immediate) Order of Protection. The ex parte Order of Protection will be effective until a hearing is held on your petition for a full Order of Protection.

If you believe your child is in danger, you may also request a Child Order of Protection on their behalf. Under the Missouri Child Protection Orders Act, a person may seek an Order of Protection on behalf of a child (person under 17 years of age unless otherwise emancipated) who has been the victim of child abuse, sexual assault, or stalking. The petitioner must be a parent, guardian, guardian ad litem, or a court appointed special advocate or juvenile officer.

Family Advocates Law Firm will help you address the abuse you are suffering immediately. We work closely with counselors and state agencies to assist you in working through the emotional struggles and fear that may be present in your situation. Please do not wait to reach out.

How will the custody of my children be determined by the Court? 2018-04-30T20:24:25+00:00

In Missouri, the Court will consider several factors to determine the custodial arrangements for your children. The statutory factors require the Court to focus on what is in the best interest of the child. The Court will always try to protect the children from parental disputes, while allowing frequent and meaningful contact with both parents. The Judge will consider the needs and wishes of the children, health of the parents, and the child’s relationship with parents, siblings, and other family members. The Court may also appoint a Guardian ad Litem to represent the interests of the children in a dissolution proceeding. For a complete list of child custody factors, please see our child custody page.

What is the difference between legal custody and physical custody? 2018-04-19T15:49:11+00:00

In Missouri, legal custody relates to the decision-making responsibilities of a child, including the child’s education, medical treatment, and religious upbringing. Physical custody relates to where a child lives and which parent is responsible for the day-to-day childcare. Although the parents may share legal and physical custody, one parent is typically designated the residential parent for educational and mailing purposes.

What is a Guardian ad Litem? 2018-04-19T15:49:14+00:00

A Guardian ad Litem (“GAL”) is a person, usually an attorney, appointed by the Court in divorce, paternity, and custody cases to represent the best interests of the children involved in the proceeding.  In Child Order of Protection matters, or cases that involve abuse or neglect, a GAL must be appointed.

The GAL will assist the Court with custody determinations but will first complete an investigation to formulate a recommendation to the Court. The investigation may include meeting with the parents and the children, if appropriate. The GAL may also speak with other individuals concerning the children, such as family members, friends, teachers, counselors, doctors, and police officers.  

Upon making a recommendation to the Court, the Judge will determine if he or she wishes to follow the GAL’s recommendation. The parties have the right to present their case to the Judge if they disagree with the GAL’s recommendation.

If I share joint custody with my ex-spouse, do I have to pay child support? 2018-04-19T15:49:19+00:00

In some custody cases, the children may end up living with one parent more often than the other. Additionally, one parent may undertake the primary care responsibilities for the children, and this will entitle him or her to child support.  The child support is calculated by the Form 14

How long do I have to pay child support? 2018-04-30T20:26:15+00:00

You are required to pay child support until the child is deemed emancipated under Missouri Law. A child will be considered emancipated when the child does any of the following:

1. Reaches the age of eighteen (18) or graduates from a secondary school, whichever occurs later, unless the child is attending an institution of vocational or higher education, in which case the support obligation shall continue until the child completes said education or attains the age of twenty-one (21), whichever occurs first
2. Dies
3. Enters into marriage
4. Becomes self-supporting, provided that the primary custodian has relinquished custody of the child by express or implied consent
5. Enters active duty in the military

There are additional statutory requirements placed on the child if he or she enrolls in higher education. These specific requirements should be discussed with your attorney.

How long will my divorce take? 2018-04-19T15:47:03+00:00

The timeframe for a divorce is difficult to calculate because it depends on your situation, as well as factors beyond your control. For instance, your spouse may not want the divorce and it is unknown what he or she is willing to agree upon during the process. The degree to which you and your spouse agree on issues and the cooperation between the two of you will dictate how long the process will be. 

If you and your spouse agree on each issue, the process can usually be completed in a few weeks. This is often referred to as “uncontested divorce.”

In contested circumstances, a divorce may take a year or more because the parties must reach an agreement on custody, property division, or other matters specific to your situation, or allow their case to be tried by the Court.  

How much will my divorce or legal separation cost? 2018-04-30T20:28:06+00:00

Family Advocates Law Firm prides itself in the quality of work and reasonableness of its attorneys’ fees and costs for clients. While it is impossible to know for certain what a contested matter will cost, we work diligently to communicate upcoming costs to our clients throughout the process. In an effort to ensure we stay within a budget, we provide personal attention and consistent contact with our clients to ensure the client is aware of the time required for his or her matter.  

Our mission is not to operate a “high volume” practice, but to properly attend to and communicate with the client to achieve the goals set by you and your attorney. As a result, as the client, you will play a key role in the cost and billable time spent on your case. Please refer to our mission statement to learn more about the distinguished service we offer our clients.

What are Temporary Restraining Orders and Injunctions? 2018-04-19T15:50:01+00:00

A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) is an order from the Court to protect parties, their assets, or children. The order is typically entered to enjoin one party or the other from taking certain actions, such as removing the children from school, or dissipating a marital asset. The party seeking a TRO has the burden of showing that substantial and irreparable harm will result if the order is not entered. However, the relief can be granted quickly because the waiting period for appearing before a Judge is shortened once the request is filed.  

Will I have to pay all my attorneys’ fees for my legal matter? 2018-04-19T15:50:10+00:00

Under Missouri law, each party is typically responsible for his or her own attorneys’ fees. Where there are special circumstances, the Court has the discretion to order one party to pay the other’s attorneys’ fees. For example, if there is a great disparity in income and your spouse was the party earning the majority of the income, the Court may order your spouse to pay all or some of your attorneys’ fees. In addition, the Court may order a party to pay attorneys’ fees if there has been misconduct or dissipation of assets by one party.

Family Advocates Law Firm works hard to maintain reasonable attorneys’ fees while providing the highest quality of representation.  

Each family law matter is unique, so please speak to your attorney for additional information.

How will the Court determine if I have to pay maintenance or if I will receive maintenance? 2018-05-24T16:21:18+00:00

Spousal support or maintenance is awarded to a spouse to assist them in getting back on their feet after a divorce. The award is different for each case and will depend on the length of the marriage, the standard of living each spouse was accustomed to during the marriage, the financial resources of the parties, and the earning capacity of each spouse. While each spouse has an obligation under Missouri law to become self-supporting, the Court will review the facts unique to your case to determine if some form of spousal support is necessary.

What do I do if I believe my spouse is hiding money, income, or assets? 2018-05-22T12:59:25+00:00

This is not uncommon in family law matters, especially during litigation. If you have this belief, there are ways to determine if your spouse has concealed assets and we have the ability to help. We will work with employers, businesses, banks, and experts, where necessary, to uncover any hidden assets. At times, we will work with other professionals, such a forensic accountant, to trace and locate concealed money or income. While there is a cost-benefit analysis to ensure these actions are necessary, you and your Family Advocates Law Firm attorney will take all steps necessary to protect your interests.