is another example of a criminal charge often accompanying a divorce
or other family law case: Harassment.
previous statute was lengthy, and specific. You had to threaten to
commit a felony, use such extreme language as to put another person
in fear of physical harm, recklessly frighten a minor. Do it once and
it was a Class A Misdemeanor. Do it again and it could be a Class D
the new law which begins January 1, 2017, the language is quite vague: “A person commits the
offense of harassment in the second degree if he or she, without good
cause, engages in any act with the purpose to cause emotional
distress to another person.
Representing parties in a divorce often also includes certain criminal law cases. Domestic assault is one example. For years Missouri had four levels of felony crime, A, B, C and D, and four levels of misdemeanor crime, A, B, C and D. Beginning January 1, 2017, Missouri introduces a new domestic assault law and with it Missouri also introduces the CLASS E FELONY!
Third Degree Domestic Assault seems to me the most applicable to the level of conflict in a substantial number of divorces.
certainly have a legal right to a divorce. States like Missouri and
Illinois will grant a divorce when only one of the two spouses wants
one. No fault. Fault matters in other areas of a divorce, but one
spouse can obtain a divorce from the other spouse for any reason, no
reason or even a bad reason. That isn't the question, though. You
asked, “Should I get a divorce?”
depends on your own answers to a number of questions.
First things first. Are
you safe? Has there been any
You may be asking the wrong person. I always think it is better to have an attorney, but then, I am an attorney.
Divorce isn't rocket-science. We all understand basically what happens in a divorce, so why get a lawyer? Three reasons, in my opinion:
First, family law is VERY local law. In Missouri there are no juries for an ordinary divorce, so you are left with your Family Court Judge as both the finder of fact (what a jury would do in a civil case) and the applier of law.
Donald and Marie were living the good
life. They'd been married over forty years, his second marriage, her
first, and they were retired, spending time enjoying their
grandchildren. Then Donald passed unexpectedly.
After the funeral, Marie received a
call from Donald's retirement plan provider. The voice said, “Your
marriage was never valid because Donald’s divorce was not final
before your marriage.” Then the voice said something that shook her
to her core, “You can no longer draw Donald's retirement.
In Missouri, a Legal Separation has a “trap door.” A legal separation in Missouri is the same as a divorce, except the parties are not requesting that the court dissolve the marriage. Property is divided and maintenance is decided, and the Court, as it always does, has jurisdiction over the children for custody and child support purposes. Missouri law states clearly that the division of property of the Legal Separation is final, that after a legal separation both parties can set it aside, and that ninety days after the legal separation one of the parties can convert it to a divorce.
I am often asked, "Should I do my own divorce." Of course, I tell them that they have an absolute right of access to the courts in these United States, but will they be effective? The courts in this area have a very strong "pro se" (meaning do-it-yourself) docket. They work well when there are no difficult issues to decide.
DO IT YOURSELF. Remember the old adage, "the lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client." Legal matters, most especially family law matters, are as emotional as they are logical.
No domestic law matter gets better with time.Did you
know that you have thirty (30) days after the date you are served the summons
for your domestic relations matter for you to respond to the Court with your
Answer and Counter-Petition? Our firm represents individuals in exactly the
same situation you face now.
Fault isn't considered for the spouse who wants a divorce. A spouse
who wants a divorce can do so for any reason. A spouse's unfaithful or