Thursday, December 20, 2012

Can I just get an annulment instead of going through an uncontested divorce?

Annulment vs. Uncontested Divorce

A young couple came into +The Linnenbringer Law Firm a few weeks back inquiring about having their marriage annulled.  Many people seem to gravitate towards an annulment when their marriage is extremely short.  They view having the marriage declared void as "better" than being divorced.  In this case, the couple had been married 5 days.

Unfortunately for this couple (and almost every other couple that I've come across asking for an annulment), they did not meet the "requirements" for an annulment in Missouri.  In order to have your marriage annulled, you'll need to prove that a specific factor was present at the time of the marriage that made the marriage void or voidable.  Those factors include things like (for now) same-sex marriages, bigamous marriages, a marriage to someone who lacks the mental capacity to enter into a marriage, and a few others.  Bottom line, very few marriages will meet the requirements of an annulment.

The answer to this problem, of course, is to simply get an uncontested divorce.  In Missouri an uncontested divorce (otherwise known as non-contested divorce) can be done affordably, quickly, and easily - more so than an annulment case, in my experience.

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to contact me for more information.

Gerald W. Linnenbringer, Missouri Uncontested Divorce Attorney

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I'm ready to start - what should I bring with me for my first appointment?

Information Needed for Divorce Paperwork

Even for the most simple of uncontested divorces, your attorney will still need a good amount of personal information to complete the dissolution paperwork.  For your first appointment, you should have the following information on hand:

For both parties:
1.  Full legal name (and wife's maiden name)
2.  Dates of birth
3.  What State each party was born in
4.  Social security numbers
5.  Addresses
6.  Length of time (years, months) Petitioner has lived in Missouri (and if Petitioner does not live in Missouri, length of time Respondent has lived in Missouri)
7.  Number of previous marriages for each party, and why those previous marriages ended (ie, death or divorce)
8.  The highest grade of school completed (ie, high school diploma, associates, bachelors, etc)
9.  Current employers

Marriage Info:
1.  Date of marriage
2.  What city the marriage took place in
3.  What county the marriage is registered in
4.  Date of separation (not legal separation necessarily, just when you and your spouse stop living like a married couple in your own mind)

Income and Expenses Info:
Your attorney will have to complete a Statement of Income and Expense.  While the information in these pleadings may not carry much weight in an uncontested divorce situation, it is still necessary:
1.  How often are you paid (ie, bi-weekly, semi-monthly, etc)
2.  Gross income for each pay period
3.  Net income for each pay period
4.  Approximate gross income from the last three years of tax returns

Your attorney will also need information about your monthly expenses, such as:
1.  Rent / Mortgage
2.  Utilities (gas, electric, water, sewer, trash, etc)
3.  Automobile expenses (gasoline, insurance, loan payment)
4.  Insurance expenses
5.  Living expenses, like monthly food, clothing, recreation costs
6.  Cell phone, Cable television, internet
7.  Payments you make on debt, such as credit cards, student loans, etc.

Property & Debt Info:
In order to prepare a comprehensive, quality Settlement Agreement that reflects the understanding you and your spouse came to in the disposition of your property and debt, your attorney will need information about the assets and liabilities of the marriage.  This includes information such as:
1.  Real Estate - if a house is involved, what is the plan?  Who will take the house and will a refinance be required to remove one party from the mortgage note?  Will a buyout be required?
2.  Cars - who takes what vehicles, which cars are secured by loans, and will refinance be required for those loans?
3.  Bank Accounts - who takes what accounts?  You should provide your attorney with the last four digits of any accounts divided in the settlement, as to prevent potential conflict or confusion in the future over which account(s) the settlement agreement is referring to.
4.  401ks, pensions, IRAs, etc. - you'll need to know how each investment retirement account is divided, if at all.  Please remember that if you are dividing a 401k, IRA, pension, or some other retirement account (and by dividing, I mean one party will take a % of a certain account, and the other party will take the other % of it, not simply a Husband takes his, Wife takes hers situation), you will need a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (otherwise known as QDRO) to divide that investment/retirement account.  QDROs are billed separately from the divorce and probably deserve their own blog entry sometime in the future.
5.  A list of all debt and who will be responsible for what.  You should also know how each liability is titled, as jointly held debt often warrants special consideration and planning.

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to contact me for more information.

Gerald W. Linnenbringer, Missouri Uncontested Divorce Attorney

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Do I have to appear in court an uncontested divorce in Missouri?

Generally speaking, the parties in an uncontested divorce can avoid ever needing to appear in court.  In Missouri, many courts allow the submission of a divorce case by affidavit.  This means that instead of needing to appear in court and give testimony on the record, you can simply sign an Affidavit for Judgment when you sign the rest of your paperwork.  Your attorney will then present the Judgment for Dissolution, Affidavits for Judgment, and Settlement Agreement to the Judge.  If acceptable, the Judge signs off on the Judgement and the case is final.  At that point, you are divorced.

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to contact me for more information.

Gerald W. Linnenbringer, Missouri Uncontested Divorce Attorney

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

How long does an uncontested divorce in Missouri take?

Short answer to that question is - it depends.  It depends on how quickly you provide the necessary information to your attorney, it depends on how quickly your attorney can draw up a comprehensive settlement agreement that you are happy with, it depends on how quickly you can get to your attorney's office to sign the final paperwork, etc.

I bill my uncontested divorces on a flat fee.  That being the case, delays do not make me money, they cost me time.  The quicker I can get the divorce filed, the quicker I can get it final.  If the process goes smoothly without delays, the entire divorce - from initial interview to final judgment - can be done in less than 60 days, and sometimes in as little as 35 days or so.  My website has a page dedicated to reviews from past clients, which also shows how long each anonymous client's uncontested divorce took to finalize.

I have no reason to push off finalizing the case.  I believe that flat fee billing promotes efficiency in uncontested matters, which is why I choose to bill that way.  Please feel free to visit my website for a uncontested divorce FAQ, which has more frequently asked questions relating to Missouri uncontested divorces.

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to contact me for more information.

Gerald W. Linnenbringer, Missouri Uncontested Divorce Attorney