Our law office practices primarily in the area of family law. Family law, among other things, includes pre-nuptial agreements, divorce, annulment, paternity, modification, family access motions, custody, third-party custody, parenting time, visitation, grandparent visitation, child support, contempt or enforcement actions, non-support, domestic violence/protection orders, juvenile court matters, guardianship, adoption and mediation. When you are faced with one or more of these issues, you need a lawyer with substantial experience in these areas. Our law office is able to help you with your needs in Jackson County, Cass County, Clay County, Lafayette County, Johnson County, Ray County and Saline County.
Missouri law provides for at least three different types of child custody when parents end their relationships: Legal custody, physical custody and third-party custody. Legal custody refers to decision-making while physical custody refers to the amount of time each parent spends with the children. Third-party custody can occur when neither parent is fit, suitable or able to assume custody of the minor children and the children’s welfare and best interests requires the court to designate a person other than the parents to take custody of the children. With respect to legal and physical custody, both parents can share decision-making and substantial (but not necessarily equal) periods of time (joint legal/joint physical custody); one parent can have sole decision making while the other has substantial (but not necessarily equal) periods of parenting time (sole legal/joint physical custody); or one parent can have sole decision-making while the other parent has a limited periods of time (or sometimes supervised time) with the children (sole legal/sole physical custody). When parents share joint physical custody, the court is required to designate one of the parent’s addresses as the legal address of the children for mailing and educational purposes. All of this can be extremely confusing for parents — which is why all parents involved in a custody matter should seek the advice and representation of an experienced family lawyer.
While the family law process generally follows the same path in all counties in Missouri, there are very different procedures from court to court. In all Missouri courts, parents must attend a parenting course designed to educate parents on the importance of continuing contact with both parents and the children after the parents have separated. In addition, the course focuses on the need to establish a business-like relationship with the other parent in order to co-parent the children. In the event parents cannot agree on a Parenting Plan (a written agreement as to custody, parenting time and support of the children), mediation is mandatory prior to setting the case for trial. In general, one parent will file a petition in the circuit court, the court will issue a summons, the summons will be served on the other parent, the other parent will have thirty (30) days to file an answer and counter-petition, each parent will be required to make certain financial and other disclosures, depositions may be taken, psychological evaluations, parenting assessments, home studies and/or drug tests may be taken, parenting classes will be attended by both parents, mediation will be attempted and if no agreements have been reached, a trial will be scheduled.
In most cases, parents are able to reach decisions involving custody of their children and the amount of parenting time each of them will spend with the children. However, there are times when this becomes difficult and a custody trial becomes imminent. This is especially true when there has been spousal abuse, abuse or neglect of the children, criminal involvement by one or both parents, a mental health condition, illicit drug use or chemical and/or alcohol dependency issues involved within the family. Often times, one parent will use or attempt to use the children to hurt the other parent. This becomes apparent when one parent is denied contact with the children, speaks negatively to the children about the other parent and/or files false charges or makes false allegations against the other parent. If you are experiencing any of these things, you need to seek the advice of an experienced family lawyer immediately. The Law Office of Lorri L. Wilbee-Kobe, LLC, has been handling these types of family law cases since 2007 and has the experience you need to guide you through this very complicated process.
Child support is based on the combined income of both parents, the number of children you have, the amount of maintenance one parent is receiving, the amount of overnights each parent has with the children, the cost of health insurance for the children and the cost of daycare. Child support can be and is often ordered retroactive to the date of filing an initial petition or the date of service if a pre-existing order is being modified.
All parties (and children) generally fare better when a family law case is settled rather than tried. Settling a case avoids the hassle, financial and emotional expense and embarrassment of going to trial. Those who cannot come to an agreement on all aspects of custody, parenting time and child support may be able to reach an agreement with the help of a mediator – a neutral third party who has been specifically trained in the art of helping people speak to each other and reach agreements. If the parties can come to an agreement on all of the aspects of the case, they will be able to sign a settlement agreement and can avoid a lengthy and expensive trial.
Visit The Law Office of Lorri L. Wilbee-Kobe, LLC
If you need assistance in any family law matter, make sure you call The Law Office of Lorri L. Wilbee-Kobe, LLC a call to schedule a consultation.