Gordon K. Rea - When Family Law Matters... call an attorney you can trust.
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Missouri’s New Harassment Law and Class E Felony: §§ 565.090.1 and 565.091.1 RSMo
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Should I Get a Divorce?
Do I really need to hire an attorney?
No Retirement!!? I Thought We Were Married? The plight of the putative spouse in Missouri.


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Just One Lawyer's Opinion

Do I really need to hire an attorney?

    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. Plus, many courts have local rules where the same family court judge who hears your divorce a few years ago will, if he or she is still on the bench, handle your Motion to Modify or Family Access Motion. Choose your judge wisely the first time or you'll be stuck. My law firm has the right experience to tell you if you are in the right setting for your case.

     Second, every divorce is different. If, for example, the risk in your divorce includes loss of a business, property, child custody, child support, spousal support or the divorce occurs after a lengthy marriage, I do not recommend self-representation (sometimes called "pro se" representation). Another example where self-representation is not advisable is where the other party incurred excessive debt or abused or neglected the child(ren). While fault isn't part of obtaining the divorce, it can be significant in division of property or an award of child custody. fault of the other party in the divorce. My law firm can provide this guidance.

     Third and finally, you will have to live with the quality of your do-it-yourself divorce. The Judge in your case cannot give you legal advice and mistakes can happen that, such as in the case of the division of property, will be final and unchangeable. While it is true that most divorces settle without a trial, divorce is more than just "filing papers." An experienced family law attorney focuses on getting results for you, not on completing any forms or papers. In the event your matter proceeds to a trial, you should hire a qualified family law litigator well in-advance of the trial date. 

     Still thinking, "What could go wrong?" Here are a few examples:

  • One do-it-yourself divorce committed both parties to continue depositing paychecks by automatic deposit into the old joint checking account.
  • Another do-it-yourself divorce re-drafted the way the family business was incorporated so that wife would get additional income until the divorce was settled. The wife ousted the husband from the company and took complete control.

  • On one extremely bitter do-it-yourself divorce, the ex-wife was ordered to continuing making payments for her ex-husband's car and car insurance.

     These people wrote their own orders! Just remember that "you get what you pay for" also applies to family law. If you still insist that a DIY Divorce is what you want, visit the Missouri Supreme Court website and the St. Louis County Circuit Court Forms pages. You will find a video and easy to complete forms at the following links:

     If you have a family law problem, whether or not you have been served papers, I will be happy to sit with you in a complimentary consultation. Within 20-30 minutes you'll know what you can do for yourself and what you would be better off having an experienced attorney handle.

Gordon Rea

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