FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
If you’re going through family troubles during COVID-19, you certainly wouldn’t be alone. The fact of the matter is that as social distancing and self-isolation increases, we’re going to become restricted to our homes and our families for longer than ever before. Sometimes, this could bring out the best in a family – but on the other hand, it can also strain a relationship between spouses quite significantly. Here at the Law Offices of Margot H Beasley, we’re here to provide you with knowledge and support throughout these unprecedented times. Take a look down below to read some of our most frequently asked questions regarding family matters and divorce during COVI D-19.
Going through a rough patch with your spouse is extremely common and quite typical during long-standing marriages. In addition, considering the increase in the amount of time spent with each other under the current social distancing restrictions, it’s even more likely that you and your spouse might experience a few bumps in your relationship. However, it’s important to gauge the severity of these bumps.
There’s no doubt that COVID-19 can certainly bring out the worst in a relationship, especially when it comes to family. Remember, a period of emotional upset, financial uncertainty, and a major life shift is enough to cloud your judgement. And yet, what you’re feeling is certainly real -and that’s okay. At this point, it would be wise to weigh your options when it comes to the future of your family and your assets, and the Law Offices of Margot H Beasley would be happy to help.
Knowing when it’s the right time to file for divorce isn’t an exact science. In fact, it can be different for each and every person. Remember, no two relationships are ever the same, and it’s difficult to know exactly when to make that choice. Our team is well experienced in the stressors that so many families experience when going through divorce or custody matters, and we see it as our duty to ease the burden by providing our clients with thoughtful, patient, and compassionate legal support. If you feel as though divorce might be on the table, we encourage you to reach out to us to learn more about your legal options.
If you’ve recently gone through a divorce and are struggling with your custody requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic, dealing with a custody battle might be one of the most challenging ordeals of the entire divorce process. Here at the Law Offices of Margot H Beasley, we’re here to help you gauge your options and come to a fair result between you and your ex-spouse.
The Missouri Supreme Court requires that at least 50% of domestic cases be completed within 4 months of the time of filing and 95% of cases be completed within 14 months of the time of filing. The complexity of the case and the success of negotiation can reduce or extend this time period.
We can only represent one party. However, if you and your spouse have come to an agreement, we can draft and file all of the documents necessary to reflect your agreement. While we cannot represent your spouse, we can provide all of the necessary paperwork to your spouse that he/she will need to complete and offer notary services for forms that must be notarized. We frequently represent people in uncontested divorces and if spouses are truly cooperating, this is an efficient and substantially less expensive route than litigation.
Do not talk to your children about any divorce proceedings. Do not speak negatively to them about the other parent or confide in them about the marriage. Children need to feel like even though their parents cannot live together that they are still loved and that it will be okay. We often recommend individual counseling or group counseling programs to assist children with processing and healing from the divorce, especially is parents are not communicating well or are especially angry at one another.
A legal separation can address custody and property division and is as enforceable as a Judgment of Dissolution. However, parties remain married and the separation can be dissolved or the Judgment can be converted later to a Judgment of Dissolution. Parties sometimes legally separate in order to protect themselves financially and enter into an enforceable custody arrangement while they decide whether they want to officially divorce.
If you are receiving spousal support, it will end upon your remarriage unless your divorce settlement specifically states otherwise. Property division is final in a divorce settlement and will not be impacted by remarriage.
The Judge must determine what custody arrangement is in “the best interest” of the child. The factors the Court uses when deciding this issue include, but are not limited to:
- The wishes of the child's parents as to custody and the proposed parenting plan submitted by both parties;
- The needs of the child for a frequent, continuing and meaningful relationship with both parents and the ability and willingness of parents to actively perform their functions as mother and father for the needs of the child;
- The interaction and interrelationship of the child with parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interests;
- Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent, continuing and meaningful contact with the other parent;
- The child's adjustment to the child's home, school, and community;
- The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, including any history of abuse of any individuals involved. If the court finds that a pattern of domestic violence as defined in section 455.010 has occurred, and, if the court also finds that awarding custody to the abusive parent is in the best interest of the child, then the court shall enter written findings of fact and conclusions of law. Custody and visitation rights shall be ordered in a manner that best protects the child and any other child or children for whom the parent has custodial or visitation rights, and the parent or other family or household member who is the victim of domestic violence from any further harm;
- The intention of either parent to relocate the principal residence of the child; and
- The wishes of a child as to the child's custodian. The fact that a parent sends his or her child or children to a home school, as defined in section 167.031, shall not be the sole factor that a court considers in determining custody of such child or children.
Child support is calculated using a form created by the State of Missouri. The form takes into account several financial figures, including each parent’s gross monthly income, whether any spousal support is ordered, costs of health insurance and childcare, and how many overnights the parent paying support has with the children. This number can often be negotiated based on other circumstances of the parties.
You are not required to report domestic abuse, but for your safety, you should absolutely seek help and make sure you are safe. The severity of domestic abuse frequently increases over time. Evidence that you have reported abuse can also help your case in the event you need and Order of Protection or become involved in a divorce or custody case. Below are links to several local agencies that assist victims of domestic violence. All of these resources are confidential.
You can file a Petition for Order of Protection with the Court. We frequently represent Petitioner’s in these cases and the allegations in your petition are important because the law is very specific about what constitutes abuse and what must be alleged and proven to the Court for an Order of Protection to be entered. Proof does NOT need to include photographs or other recording for a Judge to make a determination. These are often issued in testimony alone. An Order of Protection is an enforceable Court Order that states that your abuser may not contact you in any way, threaten you or harass you. Violation of the Order may result in prison time.
When one or both people have assets that they wish to remain separate in the event of a divorce. A prenuptial agreement is designed to eliminate contested litigation of property and debt if a couple decides to divorce. Prenuptial agreements frequently address property acquired before the marriage, future interests, income, and spousal support. They cannot address child custody.