Any divorce has the potential to escalate into a complex legal battle, even if the divorcing spouses are initially agreeable about the circumstances of their divorce and the need for their marriage to end. If you are planning to divorce in St. Charles, MO in the near future, it’s natural to worry about how long the process will take, what it will entail, and how much it will cost you in the end.
The best resource you can have in this situation is an experienced St. Charles, MO divorce attorney. The right lawyer can have a tremendously positive effect on your divorce experience and help you explore every available option for streamlining the process. Before you begin your divorce proceedings, it’s a good idea to know the factors that will influence how long it will take for you to complete the divorce process and what to expect from your attorney.
Equitable Distribution in St. Charles, MO Divorce
Missouri upholds an equitable distribution law. Unlike states that follow community property laws and require strict 50/50 division of marital assets, Missouri family court judges seek property division resolutions that are equitable but not necessarily equal. Depending on the incomes of the divorcing spouses, their unique medical needs and overall health, and various other factors, the property division resolution the judge delivers may seem imbalanced in some ways. However, divorcing couples do have the option to negotiate property division privately through alternative dispute resolution if they are willing to compromise.
Property division can extend the time required for a divorce to finalize based on several factors. High net worth is one of the most significant. If a divorcing couple owns substantial assets, complex investments, and valuable physical property, they will inherently require more time to resolve their equitable distribution process than a couple with limited marital assets.
Child Custody Determination
When a divorcing couple has children, they cannot resolve child custody or child support on their own. If they pursue alternative dispute resolution or a joint-petition divorce, they can develop a proposal for a parenting plan that they believe suits their child’s best interests. However, regardless of the situation, the family court must evaluate their situation and determine what type of custody arrangement would best suit the children’s best interests.
Some child custody determinations unfold more quickly than others. The court may want to hear from the divorcing spouses’ children if they are old enough to convey their preferences, and the court will also need to evaluate the separate living arrangements of both spouses if they both seek majority custody. When a divorcing couple is willing to compromise on child custody, or if they plan to live close to one another and make joint custody more viable, these factors can cut down on the time required to reach a child custody determination.
Alternative Dispute Resolution and Willingness to Compromise
Divorce litigation is notoriously stressful, expensive, and time consuming. Depending on the complexity of the case, litigation may require months or even more than a year before the couple obtains their divorce order. This is why so many couples in St. Charles, MO and throughout Missouri opt for alternative dispute resolution instead of going to court to settle their divorces. Even when divorcing spouses are contentious and have trouble being civil with one another due to their personal issues, mediation can provide them a much swifter alternative to litigation in most cases.
When a divorcing couple decides to take advantage of alternative dispute resolution, they will sit down with a mediator who will guide their negotiations and ultimately help them draft their divorce agreement. Both spouses may have legal counsel throughout this process, and depending on how willing they are to compromise, mediation may only require a few weeks to complete.
Uncontested Divorce in St. Charles, MO
It is possible to streamline a divorce case significantly if the divorce is uncontested. This means that the divorcing spouses agree to every aspect of the divorce, from child custody to property division. This is a rare occurrence, and some couples will agree to most issues but require legal intervention for certain aspects of the divorce process.
Some couples with uncontested divorces may qualify for a joint-petition dissolution. This can significantly cut down the time required to complete the divorce process, but the spouses must agree to every aspect of the divorce and be willing to work together throughout the process. Missouri upholds a 30-day waiting period for divorce, meaning the absolute soonest a divorce can be finalized is 30 days from the date a petition is filed. If a couple qualifies for joint-petition dissolution, it is likely to take between 45 and 90 days to complete.
Finding Reliable Divorce Representation
One of the most important factors when it comes to streamlining the divorce process in any situation is legal representation. Hiring the right St. Charles, MO divorce attorney to represent your interests in divorce will inherently shorten the time required to complete your divorce in several ways:
- Your divorce attorney can handle procedural issues like court filings on your behalf. This can help you avoid administrative issues or paperwork mistakes that would extend the time required to complete your divorce.
- Your attorney can help you with financial disclosure, cutting the time it takes to secure the financial documentation you need for property division proceedings.
- An experienced attorney can consult with expert witnesses on your behalf if your divorce involves complex issues.
- Your divorce attorney can help you take advantage of alternative dispute resolution to the fullest extent possible. For example, they may help you mediate some aspects of your divorce before you must proceed to litigation to handle the rest.
- Your attorney can handle communication with your spouse’s legal counsel, dramatically reducing the emotional stress your divorce situation is likely to cause.
These are just a few of the reasons why it is crucial to hire a reliable St. Charles, MO divorce attorney to represent you. It’s natural to want to get the divorce process over with as quickly as possible, but it’s important to be realistic in your expectations. If you want to streamline your divorce case, one of the best ways to do so is to contact an experienced and reliable St. Charles, MO divorce attorney as soon as you decide to end your marriage.