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How Does the Adoption Process Work in St. Louis?

There are multiple types of adoptions and the process can vary between the different types. However, the basic adoption court process always starts with a family wanting to adopt a specific child and then filing paperwork with the St. Louis County or St. Louis City Circuit Court. The initial paperwork includes a Petition for Adoption, as well as an Affidavit of Expenses for costs incurred to go through the adoption, and some other basic filing documents. The case is then processed and the Judge is assigned to the case.

children-1160096_640 [Read more…]

Collaborative Divorce: An Unfamiliar Option Explained


What is Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative Divorce is an alternative to the traditional “courtroom and judge” divorce process. Unlike the mediation process, where the couple typically sits down with a single mediator to discuss matters, spouses going through the collaborative process each hire a specially trained collaborative-divorce attorney. The attorneys are not always the only people helping the spouses sort out their affairs. Oftentimes, specialists like counselors, coaches and financial advisors will join in the process. As a group, the attorneys, spouses and specialists will work together, outside the watch of the court, and walk through the issues at hand. [Read more…]

Things You are Doing to Sabotage your Child Custody Battle

Child Custody

  1. Speaking Negatively about your Ex-Spouse

Divorce is emotional. Some days you may communicate effectively with your ex, and other days you can’t seem to get a single point across. Communicating and coordinating with someone during the divorce process is never easy. However, the Court expects you and your ex-spouse to be civil with one another for the sake of your children. If the Court finds out you are bad mouthing your ex to the Guardian ad Litem, on social media, or, worst of all, to your children, the Judge may doubt your ability to be a mature and responsible co-parent. Remember, social media rants may seem like an easy way to get something off of your chest, but you may regret the post if the Court comes across it.

  1. Denying the Other Parent Contact with the Children

Cutting off communication is a risky move. Unless there is a particular set of circumstances surrounding your divorce (i.e. drug addiction, abuse, neglect etc.) the Court prefers that co-parents work together to create numerous open channels of communication. If your child needs to speak to the other parent, possibly to coordinate a ride to practice or just to say hello, the child should be provided with avenues of communication. Conversely, the same belief is held if the other parent is reasonable about their communication with your children during their non-custodial time.

  1. Moving in with a Significant Other

During the divorce process, the Court stresses the importance of keeping continuity in the children’s lives wherever possible. Children already have a difficult time watching their parents split households. The Court often finds that children have an especially difficult time if a parent chooses to quickly move in with a new significant other. While finding another romantic partner eventually occurs for many parents, the Courts prefer that children not be exposed to such a dramatic lifestyle shift at the beginning of the divorce process.

There are no “tried and true” ways to definitely win a child custody battle, but there are many things you can do to improve or hurt your custody battle. Avoiding these common missteps will help alleviate some of the stresses of divorce. If you are concerned that your actions could be harming your odds in your custody battle, contact a knowledgeable divorce attorney or child custody attorney immediately.

How Do I Make My Divorce Less Emotional?

Easier said than done, I know. As a divorce attorney, almostFrustrated-Face every client I encounter is dealing with the rocky emotions of divorce when they come into my office for the first time. While completely taking the emotions out of a divorce case is nearly impossible, there are steps you can take to improve things drastically.

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Is Hiring a Divorce Lawyer Worth the Money?

moneyCost? It’s the first question that every attorney gets asked when they receive a call from a potential client. Clients want to know if they can afford the attorney, will hiring the lawyer improve things, and could they be doing this on their own without spending the money. These are all reasonable questions to be asking and depending on whom you ask, you will get a variety of answers.

text boxTo be blunt, without an attorney, mistakes will likely be made. In many cases though, clients do not realize what they are leaving on the table. As they say, you don’t know what you don’t know.

We always give our clients a very realistic example of a very typical lawyer vs. non-lawyer case. In a case without a lawyer, parties typically agree to a child support number or fill out a Form 14 themselves to determine a number. When someone unfamiliar with the Form 14 fills it out, they generally will miss some of the nuances which drastically change the number.

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Rosie O’Donnell Learns After Previous Messy Divorce Tries to Keep Latest One Clean

BardolNothing leads to a bigger divorce mess than a household celebrity name and multimillions at stake. Rosie O’Donnell thought she learned her lesson back in 2009 with a divorce battle that raged on, got ugly quickly, and led to her forking over a big chunk of change and creating stress for her four children with her ex-spouse.

This experience made Rosie realize that she had to plan for the worst but hope for the best. Her next civil union involved a very specific prenuptial agreement that, while not publicly detailed, focused on minimizing the mess she had previously experienced.

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How Does Divorce Differ Through the Ages?

husband and wife on wedding day“Will you take this person to be your spouse, to love them, comfort them, honor and keep them, and forsaking all others, keep you only unto them, for so long as you both shall live?”

You say, “I do,” and when you do, you expect your life to be a certain way. But even some of the best-laid plans can change, though, and divorce is a common life change for couples throughout St. Louis County.

As a family law attorney in St. Louis, I know that divorce can happen at any age. I’ve worked with people of all ages, but they all have the same concern–how do I protect myself during my divorce? Different challenges come along with each stage of life. Depending on your situation, you’ll need to protect yourself from different things during your divorce.

Read below to learn about the varying concerns you may encounter if and when you divorce during the described age ranges.

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Will Lawyers Make My Divorce Worse?

There are times when it may seem like that. And there are some lawyers out there that might actually make the divorce worse. That being said, the majority of the time, lawyers will help your case and can substantially improve things. Something I always compare it to is a doctor/patient relationship. You would not even consider performing surgery on yourself. Yet, people regularly try to proceed with their own divorce. Similarly to health issues, a poorly handled divorce can leave terrible side effects for years to come.

I will give you a couple of examples. In Missouri divorce law, almost all pensions are divisible as marital property and Judges regularly choose to divide them 50/50 unless parties settle otherwise. However, a teacher’s pension is considered separate property and is not divided as marital property. If you are a teacher handling your own divorce, you might give away half your pension without knowing any better. Judges often sign off on settlement agreements without reviewing the exact terms and then half a pension would be gone for no reason. [Read more…]

Furry Family Members Heighten Emotional Divorce Disputes

Bardol5For some couples, a pet is one of the first things they share. By purchasing a cat, dog, or other household pet, two crazy newlyweds become a family. Pairs bond over picking what to name their furry friend. They divide up the responsibilities, like vet visits, feedings, and dog walks.

All of a sudden, the love you share with each other is now shared with a new family member–your pet. Although in your eyes, these loveable animals are members of the family and almost equivalent to children, in the eyes of the law, they are still considered property.

This becomes especially evident when a couple begins the divorce process.

According to a survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, there has been a distinct increase in pet custody battles. Amongst all household pets, dogs are quarreled over the most during divorce. And even though divorce courts still considers them to be property, that has not stopped some judges from allowing pet custody cases, reports 22 percent of the surveyed attorneys. [Read more…]

Professional Athletes Not Earning Gold Medals for Marriage

lakersKobe Bryant can shoot a three pointer like nobody’s business. Tiger Woods can quiet the whole green with a soft putt of the ball. Michael Jordan’s earth-shattering slam-dunks are legendary, to say the least. But besides their outlandish athletic talent, what do all of these extraordinarily talented household names have in common?

They got divorced.

Forbes highlighted this common trend in a recent article, claiming that while domestic violence issues amongst professional athletes are currently gaining hype and infamy in the media, they do not actually comprise the most common marital pattern. Divorce is actually the most common issue at home for these athletes. [Read more…]