Family Law Glossary

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Family Law Glossary

Family law matters are confusing and can be difficult to navigate. Below are some terms frequently used in Missouri family law practices.

Adoption: Legal rights and duties of parenting are transferred from the biological parents or the court system to a new parent or set of parents.

Adult Order of Protection: This order can be filed to protect anyone over the age of 17 who was threatened, abused, or stalked.

Estate Plan: When you create an estate plan, you decide what will happen to your property and assets after you die. After divorcing, it is important to readdress your estate plan to make sure your property is going to proper parties, possibly not including your former spouse.

Parent Education Classes: When parents are going through a divorce, legal separation, or paternity case, these education classes are mandated by Missouri courts.

Full Order of Protection: One year legal protection for victims of abuse, harassment, or stalking from a member of their household.

Foreign Order of Protection: When you move across the state border, while having a Full Order of Protection, your Order would be deemed foreign in the new state of residence.

Motion for Family Access: When custody dispute decisions are not followed, it is best to get the court involved by filing a motion for family access. This will cause a speedy hearing to figure out the issues and reprimand the misbehaving parties.

Exchange Center Program: This is a Court regulated place where parents can exchange the children during a custody switch.

Ex Parte Order of Protection: When a victim of domestic violence, the court date sometimes does not come soon enough. When a victim is in danger, this temporary order is issued to keep the victim safe until the hearing.

Independent Placement Adoption: Sometimes called a private adoption, this occurs when parents looking to adopt find birth parents on their own and do not operate through an agency or state organization.

Interstate Adoption: When parents are adopting a child from another state, there are certain regulations they must follow, not only in the state they reside in, but in the state they are adopting from.

Agency Adoption: This is the most common way to adopt. Agencies facilitate adoption and provide assistance throughout the entire process. The agency can be private or public.

Child Order of Protection: When a child gets caught in the middle of a domestic violence dispute or is the victim, this order provides security to the child and protection from the accused party.

Child Support: When there is a divorce or the parents aren’t married, the parent who does not have sole custody of the child pays a required amount to assist with providing for the child.

Contempt of Court: When a party does not follow the decision or does not pay the mandated fees after a custody, domestic violence, or divorce case, they are in “contempt of court.” This brings the problem into the eyes of the court.

Visitation: This is the court given right of a parent or grandparent to temporarily visit with a child. This is commonly given during or after custody disputes.

Divorce: The dissolution of marriage by the court. When this occurs, the obligations and privileges that accompany marriage are now null and void.

Legal Separation: This is quite similar to divorce, however, the main difference is that couples can more easily reunite down the road. Some have the misconception that a couple must be legally separated before divorcing. A legal separation can be motioned to become a divorce after 90 days, however.

Domestic Violence: Any attempt to attack or assault another member of your family or household. This includes stalking, sexual assault, kidnapping, and harassment.

Emancipation: A child under the age of 18 becomes emancipated and parental legal obligations cease. This would include child support.

Paternity: This is the proof that a father is the biological parent of a child.

Prenuptial Agreement: Before a marriage, this provides a plan for assets and property in case the marriage ends.

Postnuptial Agreement: When a couple is married but does not have a prenuptial agreement, they can create a plan for assets and property, just in case the marriage ends. An example of this is property division.

Spousal Support: After a divorce or separation, some parties are required to provide money or other support to their former spouse.

Temporary Restraining Order: A victim of domestic violence can be in danger of further violence while waiting for the trial determining whether or not they receive an Order of Protection. In this case, a temporary restraining order is provided.

Uncontested Divorce: When a couple comes to agreement and the divorce does not go to trial, it is deemed uncontested. This lessens costs and provides for a more amicable process.

Contested Divorce: When a divorce case goes to trial and there are disagreements, this would be considered to be contested.