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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

collaborative-divorce

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…]

Should You Stay Together for the Kids?

Kids ImageA very common questions parents ask before considering divorce is “Should we stay together for the kids?” Many moms and dads are reluctant to separate due to the potential trauma their divorce could have on their children.  The thought of watching your child go through the emotional and psychological process of divorce is enough to make some people try and “stick it out”.

However, oftentimes, staying together for the kids has its own set of (potentially worse) consequences.  Living in a home with parents who do not speak, are not involved in one another’s lives, or have loud, frequent arguments, can be much more stressful on a child than the option of living in two separate homes.  With separate homes brings a less combative environment and, eventually, parents who are at ease.

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The Power of a PDL Motion

25874107431_e4e4283128What is a PDL Motion?

The initialism PDL stands for “pendente lite,” latin for “temporary”.  Divorce can be a lengthy process.  Too often, spouses are left to their own devices when it comes to finances, the house, cars, and their children.  Figuring out how to divide the household while a divorce is pending can be extremely stressful for couples parting ways.  This is where a PDL can help.

A PDL motion can be filed to ask the court for temporary assistance in a divorce case. It can also apply to paternity cases as well, although the law is a bit murkier on that topic.

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Will I Have to Pay Spousal Maintenance?

Spousal-Maintenance

Spousal Maintenance, also known as alimony, is payment made by a husband or wife to their former spouse following their divorce. In Missouri, there is not a set calculation to determine Spousal Maintenance. Judges typically evaluate case-by-case whether or not you will be paying (or receiving) maintenance, and, if so, how much. The following are some factors that contribute to most spousal maintenance decisions:

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Risk Factors That May Lead to Divorce

divorce

Statistically speaking, approximately 50% of marriages will end in divorce. However, recent studies show that this “typical” percentage can be affected by a multitude of factors. The following are categories that often play a statistical role in the odds of a marriages success.

1. Age

Were you married as a late teen? Early twenties? Then your odds for divorce may be higher than your older counterparts. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, couples who marry between the ages of 20 and 25 increase their chance of divorce to 60%. Conversely, couples who marry after the age of 25 decrease their risk of divorce by almost 25%.

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Courtroom Etiquette: Some Helpful Tips for a Good Impression

hammer-620011_960_720For Judges, the court room is a second home.  So, when visitors arrive in a court of law and don’t practice proper etiquette and manners, the Judge is often the first person to notice.  Typically, Judges and attorneys do not expect every visitor to know the professional intricacies of a court room.  However, they do expect visitors to put forth their best efforts.  The following are some tips on maintaining a respectable, professional appearance while in court:

  1. Arrival: Arriving early is very important.  Court is oftentimes very difficult for visitors to navigate.  Walking by nearly-identical rooms amongst a crowd of strangers can cause unexpected delays.  Arriving early gives you the benefit of familiarizing yourself with the courtroom.  It also allows you a few moments to speak with your attorney and review important information.
  2. Attire: The two main words that should come to mind are “professional and clean”. The hair on your head and face should be tidy and groomed.  If you own a suit, wear one.  If you do not, dress as if you were attending church in your “Sunday’s Best”.  Also, be sure to avoid distracting jewelry pieces.  A Judge may become annoyed if you begin nervously playing with a large necklace or clunky bracelets.
  3. Mannerisms: Knowing what to do if the Judge addresses you can be nerve-wracking. If a Judge addresses you, stand up.  If their address requires you to respond, be sure to always refer to the Judge as “Your Honor”.  This shows your respect for the Judge and his or her courtroom.  Additionally, keep your reactions to what you hear in the courtroom appropriate.  Avoid eye rolling, interrupting, swearing, or loud scoffs of protest when another person is speaking.

The Map of a Divorce

MapIf you are considering divorce, then the only knowledge you have is likely from reading information on the internet or meeting with your attorney. Once you understand the process though, you can get a better idea of where you are headed. We are here to walk you through the process:

Step 1:  Meet with an Attorney – When you have finally made the big decision that it is time to file for a divorce, the very first thing you must do is meet with an attorney. Many attorneys offer free or affordable consultations, so it is always wise to at least meet with an attorney.

Step 2: File the Case – Once you have found your lawyer of choice, then you must file the actual lawsuit with your local circuit court.  This typically includes filing a Petition for Divorce, financial statements and a filing fee.

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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.

Divorce Through The Ages

divorcethroughtheages_infographicClick the following infographic to learn what Bardol Law Firm, LLC can teach you about divorce in the United States over the years. The infographic shows the pros and cons to different ages in your life and why being married at that particular age is a good or bad idea.