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Divorce

St. Louis Divorce Lawyers

At Anderson Henderson, our divorce attorneys are committed to assisting you in all aspects of your divorce, from your initial separation until a final resolution is reached.  We recognize that each divorce presents its own unique set of circumstances, and as such, we tailor each client’s case according to his or her personal and financial needs. If you are considering or are in the process of obtaining a divorce, please give us a call today at (314) 266-4400, or click the blue contact button above to send us a message through this website.

The process

A divorce proceeding commences with the filing of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.  This process often requires the filing of accompanying financial statements, usually a Statement of Income and Expense and a Statement of Property.  While the outcome of the case is unlikely to be impacted by whether you or your spouse filed first, it is oftentimes advantageous to take a proactive approach, rather than simply reacting and possibly being caught off guard.

Initial Motions

More often than not, issues arise before a final judgment that require immediate attention.  In those instances, a party may seek relief by filing a "PDL Motion" or motion pendente lite(which is latin for "while the litigation is pending").  In the motion, the movant asks the court for an early hearing on certain issues regarding restraining orders, attorney fees and costs, maintenance, child support, and child custody, depending on the parties’ situation.  At that point, the judge will issue an order in an attempt to maintain the status quo during the pendency of the case.  In instances where the temporary custody of the children is at issue, the court considers a number of factors and ultimately makes a determination based on the best interests of the children.  Similarly, child support is ordered after consideration of all relevant factors, including the financial resources and needs of the child.  With regards to you or your spouses individual needs, a temporary maintenance order will be entered if one spouse does not have access to sufficient marital funds for support.  Finally, a spouse may be ordered to pay the attorney fees for a spouse unable to afford representation themselves.  The responding party may also file one of these motions. 

Other common initial motions include a motion for change of judge and a motion for change of venue (move the case to another county).

Discovery

Throughout the divorce process, the parties have a right to “discovery” against the opposing party. Discovery most commonly takes the form of depositions, written interrogatories, requests for production of documents or things, and requests for admissions.  Depositions are live interviews of the opposing party or witnesses conducted by your attorney.  Through the use of a deposition, a lawyer can gain valuable insight into a party's or witness's trial testimony as well as judge the credibility of the answers given.  Interrogatories are written questions that must be answered by the opposing party under oath.  Requests for production of documents or things require an opposing party to produce documents or things for examination that might be useful to your case.  Requests for admissions are propositions of fact that must be admitted or denied by the other party.  Requests for admissions are powerful tools in limiting the issues at trial because a party who refuses to admit an issue that the other party later proves at trial can be ordered by the judge to pay the costs, including attorney fees, of proving that issue.

A skilled divorce attorney will be able to judge the usefulness and cost-effectiveness of each of these devices in your particular situation to both strengthen your case and to minimize the issues at trial, ultimately reducing the cost of litigation. The divorce lawyers at Anderson Henderson LLC will work closely with you to develop a litigation strategy that fits your particular situation and budget.

Negotiation

Negotiation of settlement can begin even before a Petition is filed. A lawyer familiar with the issues of divorce will be able to evaluate your case and advise you on custody, child support, and asset division. Many cases are settled without an actual trial of the issues. However, without the advice of an attorney, you may not know what you should be asking for or obtaining in a settlement. The divorce lawyers at Anderson Henderson LLC are skilled litigators and will be able to give you an idea of what you should expect to receive in a settlement. Even in a so-called “uncontested divorce,” you should seek the advice of your own skilled attorney. If your spouse has hired a divorce attorney to perform a low-cost, uncontested divorce, that attorney is not representing you. That attorney may also tell you that “this divorce in run-of-the-mill and everything is being split right down the middle.” The problem with this set-up is you have no idea what you are giving up because that lawyer is not obligated to tell you those things. If you have been served with a divorce petition and wish to settle your case, come speak to the lawyers at Anderson Henderson before you sign anything. We will be happy to look over the documents and at least let you know what you are agreeing to, even if you do not wish us to become “officially involved.”

Trial

If the parties cannot reach a settlement of all of the issues, then a trial is necessary to resolve what remains. The three main issues at trial are physical and legal custody of any minor children, child support, and asset division. At trial, you will be given an opportunity to testify to the judge about what you are asking him to do and what your reasons for asking are. The skilled litigation attorneys at Anderson Henderson will help you present your testimony in a clear and understandable manner for the judge. They will also be there to make the situation as comfortable for you as possible.

After Trial

The court will retain jurisdiction over the case to hear any motions to modify. Things change as years go by and issues such as child support and custody frequently need to be adjusted. The standard for modification of prior custody orders is that there must be facts that have arisen since the prior decree or that were unknown to the court at the time of the prior decree, indicating that a change in the circumstances of the child or his custodian has occurred and that the modification is in the best interests of the child. 

 

 

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