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Our Process

Why Are You Here?

Something has gone wrong. Maybe you’ve been served with divorce papers. Or maybe you have been unhappy for a while and want to file for divorce. Maybe your ex is keeping your children from you. Or maybe your child support is so high that you are barely making ends meet. We’d like the chance to help you.

Who Do We Help?

People like you. People with family law problems. While we can’t go everywhere in Missouri, we do try to help people in a lot of areas throughout the state. From Kirkwood to Ballwin to Florissant, we help clients from all over the St. Louis County area. We try cases in St. Louis City too. And St. Charles County. And even in Jefferson County.

How Do We Help?

The first thing we do is answer your questions, whether about divorce, custody, child support, adoption or just general legal information. The hardest part is not knowing what to do. That’s where we come in. Then we work with you to put a plan in place to fight your legal battle. If things are going to be challenging then we take an aggressive stance. If you are looking for quick and painless, then we can go down the uncontested road.

What Do You Do Next?

Contact us with your questions or to set up a meeting. Our phone number is at the top of the page, as well as our address. We are located in the heart of St. Louis in Webster Groves. Also, please feel free to explore our site, use our resources and read through all of our helpful family law information. We can provide you with a divorce lawyer, but we also want to educate you on the Court system so you can be an active participant in your case.

Click on the titles below to view commonly asked questions and answers.

Divorce in St. Louis

Divorce is the legal process of ending or dissolving a marriage. In Missouri, it is called dissolution of marriage. The process of divorce in Missouri involves the Court making determinations for property and debt, spousal support, child custody, and child support.

How can we help?

At Bardol Law Firm, LLC, our St. Louis, Missouri divorce lawyers handle the entire process for you from start to finish. This includes negotiating the split of property and debt, arguing for or against maintenance, assisting in the development of a custody plan for your kids, and factoring the correct child support amount.

How long does divorce take in Missouri?

The length of divorce in Missouri is technically supposed to take one year or less according to the Supreme Court. However, the actual length of the case depends greatly on the county where your case is being heard. For example, in St. Louis, a typical uncontested case may be finished within 45 days, whereas a moderately contested case may take six to nine months.

How much does it cost to get a divorce lawyer?

The cost of a divorce ranges depending on the lawyer that you hire. Some lawyers charge flat fees, but most bill hourly on your case. The longer the case takes, the higher the bill is. There is a great advantage to keeping the case uncontested if you would like to keep the bill low. As a ballpark figure, a mildly contested divorce will roughly cost between $5,000.00 and $10,000.00 total in Missouri.

How do I find the best divorce attorney?

Finding a great attorney depends on your goals. There are many excellent family law attorneys in St. Louis, Missouri. If you want to keep your case amicable and quick then you might look for a lawyer that is mediation friendly. If you think your case will be contested then you may seek an attorney with a litigation heavy firm. Just be careful to know what you are looking for as contested cases can become very expensive and lawyers who only practice aggressively tend to run very high bills. Flexibility in an attorney may be the most important trait.

Is it better to have a male of female divorce attorney?

Either. Gender of your lawyer truly has no effect on your divorce case in Missouri. Judges have so many cases in front of them on a daily basis, that they do not pay attention to a detail like that. More importantly, look for an attorney of either gender who regularly practices in front of the Judges in your county.

What makes a good divorce lawyer?

Flexibility to fit the needs of your case is one of the most important qualities of a lawyer. If your lawyer can be comfortable enough to ratchet up the aggressiveness when the case needs it, but can also lead you down an amicable path when possible, then you have a good attorney. Communication is also a key to having a good attorney-client relationship. Look for a lawyer that returns calls and emails in a timely manner.

Can I get a divorce without a lawyer?

Yes, in Missouri you can handle your divorce without a lawyer. The State of Missouri has a website which helps parties work through the case without legal help. That being said, the case will move much, much faster if you hire an attorney.

Does it matter who files for divorce in Missouri?

It does not matter who files for divorce in Missouri. Either spouse can file the case and the outcome will be the same. Missouri is a no-fault state which means you do not need a reason to file for divorce other than the marriage being irretrievably broken. In most cases, Judges do not even pay attention to which party filed the case.

Do both parties have to agree to the divorce in Missouri?

Unfortunately, both parties do not have to agree for a divorce to be granted in Missouri. In a no-fault state, the filing party just must prove that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Even if the other spouse contests that the marriage is irretrievable broken, they are almost never successful.

When should you seek a divorce lawyer?

If you are looking to file for divorce then you can find an attorney when you are ready to start the process. If you have been served with divorce paperwork, then you should find an attorney as soon as you are served with the paperwork. In Missouri, you only have 30 days to respond to a dissolution of marriage summons so you want to give yourself plenty of time to hire counsel.

What are the divorce laws in Missouri?

Missouri laws are called statutes. The statutes regarding dissolution of marriage are all contained in chapter 453 of the Missouri law. In shorthand, this is called RSMo 453. There are specific statutes for all of the different issues that may arise in your divorce case, including spousal support, child custody and child support.

Is there alimony in Missouri?

Yes, there alimony can be awarded in Missouri. Alimony is called maintenance in Missouri. Some people may refer to it as spousal support as well. If your case is appropriate for maintenance, then it can be modifiable with no end date or non-modifiable with a specific end date.

How is alimony calculated in Missouri?

There is no specific chart in Missouri to calculate maintenance or alimony. It is at the discretion of the Judge assigned to your case or the parties can agree to an amount. Each Judge is required to follow some general guidelines under the Missouri statutes which help them determine maintenance though.

Can you date while separated or going through a divorce?

While there is no specific law stopping a spouse going through a divorce from dating, it is likely not a good idea. It is not a good look to the Judge, it can be considered marital misconduct which may affect awards in your case, and it likely increases hostility between you and your current spouse. When in doubt, wait to date.

How long after a divorce can you remarry in Missouri?

Once your divorce is final though, you can remarry. The term final for a divorce in Missouri is technically 30 days after the Judge signs. After those 30 days have passed, feel free to get married again.

What is the fastest I can get a divorce in Missouri?

A Judge in Missouri cannot grant a divorce until at least 30 days after the case has been filed with the Court. The fastest the case can then be resolved if all paperwork is done efficiently and the Judge signs immediately upon receiving the paperwork is 31 days. The more realistic timeline for a quick, uncontested divorce is probably more in the 45-day range, which is still very fast.

What is considered marital property in Missouri?

Simply, marital property is any property acquired during the marriage unless it was inherited and kept separate or gifted. Separate property is anything from before the marriage, anything inherited and kept separate, and anything gifted.

How long do you have to be married to get alimony in Missouri?

There is no specific time to be married to be awarded spousal support in Missouri. That being said, 5 to 10 years of marriage is a somewhat unsaid rule among Judges to start considering maintenance.

What type of property can be divided during a divorce?

All marital property can be divided in divorce. This includes bank accounts, real estate, retirement account and pensions, and debts. This can also include the marital portions that have developed in separate property, such as a retirement account that you owned before the marriage and then kept contributing toward during the marriage.


Paternity in St. Louis

Paternity is very simply the existence of a father-child relationship. Sometimes this relationship is very clear and at other times it is more unsure. In any family Court, there are two major types of cases. These types are divorce or paternity/custody. In regards to children, a divorce case involves married people who had children. A paternity or child custody case involves unmarried people who had a child or children.

What is a Paternity Case?

A paternity case is the process of establishing parental rights for a father through the Court system. Actual paternity is determined by genetic or DNA testing, by consent of all parties to a Court case, or by presumption. Once paternity is established, then a Court case can proceed to setting up child custody and child support for the parents.

If paternity has been established, then child custody and child support can be filed through a Petition for Custody and Support. That being said, it is not uncommon for attorneys to file a custody case with a request to establish paternity even if paternity has already been established informally or by presumption.

Do I have to file for Paternity through the Court System?

No, not necessarily. The other option is filing through the Missouri Department of Social Services. The State offers the ability to establish paternity and child support without any cost. Either parent contacts the State and starts the process. Generally, both parties will have to fill out paperwork and eventually the State issues an administrative order.

How Does DNA Testing Work?

Whether you file through Court or through the State, testing may be required. The potential father and the child both go to a testing site and provide a DNA sample. They do not necessarily need to go to the testing site at the same time. Once tested, the lab will send the results to the parties.

Who pays for the paternity test? Well, that depends on how the testing comes about. If either party request that paternity be established through the State of Missouri, then the testing is free. You just schedule the test with one of the State testing sites. The Department of Social Services will send you all the information you need.

Even though testing is always an option, it is not always necessary.

What is a Presumed Father?

In certain situations, a man is already presumed to be the father of a child without any testing at all. If a baby is born and a father signs the birth certificate then he is a presumed father. If parties are married at the time of conception or the time or birth, then he is a presumed father.

Do Unmarried Fathers have Rights?

This is a tricky question. If an unmarried father is listed as the father on the birth certificate then he has the same rights that the mother listed on the birth certificate has. However, if there has not been a custody case filed then neither party really has specific rights or privileges and the parties are living in a gray area.

What are the Custody Rules before a Court Case?

There are no rules. This is the reason many unmarried couples end up in Court at some point to create a custody schedule. It is not uncommon for the parent who has the child living with them to think they have the power or to try to play keep away with the child. In these situations, the police generally are called and they informally become the rule makers. Since police do not typically want to be involved, they will come to the house and tell the parties to call an attorney.

That does not mean a Court case always happens or has to happen. There are many unmarried couples that co-parent children together for years and years without Court intervention. That being said, even couples that get along for many years can end up in Court eventually once things go off track.

Can a Mother Keep a Father from Seeing a Child?

As we mentioned, before a Court case the parent who has the child has some informal amount of power. If this is the Mother, which is not uncommon, then they can deny the father access to the child. If this is happening, then file a case quickly. The sooner you get into the Court system, the sooner a Court-ordered custody scheduled is put in place. A Court Order is an enforceable Order that both parents will have to abide by.

Missouri Putative Father Registry

If you believe you are the potential father of a recently born child and you are being denied time with the child or cannot find the child, then the first step you should take is filing with the Missouri Putative Father Registry. The registry protects unknown fathers from having their children put up for adoption without their knowledge or consent.

The Registry is run by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. In any adoption cases in Missouri where the father is unknown, the adoptive parents must send a search form to the State to see if a father has entered his name in the Registry. If you are dealing with a paternity situation, the Registry is an extra layer of protection for you.

The Paternity Case Process

If you end up having to go the litigation route then a Paternity case needs to be filed in your local circuit court. The paternity case can be filed in the court where either parent resides or in the county where the child resides. There is one caveat when it comes to venue in paternity cases. Whatever county the case is filed in is where the case will be heard. You cannot request a change of venue for

What Else Does a Paternity Case Involve?

Once litigation begins, then the goal of the Paternity case is establishing a Parenting Plan for your child. A Parenting Plan will put in place all the necessary rules and guidelines for co-parenting your kiddo. This includes decision making (also known as legal custody), the actual custody schedule (also known as physical custody), and all the financial issues including child support and insurance coverage.

How Long Does a Paternity Case Take?

The length of a Paternity case really depends on a number of factors, particularly how contested a case is going to be. All Judges in Missouri are supposed to aim to have family law cases resolved within one year from the date of filing.

Testimonials

Steve is a great attorney and I am so thankful to have worked with him. Steve was incredibly focused on my best interests, but was also willing to listen to my concerns when they arose. He gives a new meaning to dedication, as he took time past business hours to listen to my case. I found he was always organized, responsive, professional and dedicated throughout my entire case. I would highly recommend Steve to anyone going through this life transition - Brett

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