Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Cost of divorce in Missouri: Contested vs. Uncontested (or Non-Contested)

How much will your divorce cost?

The answer to this question depends mostly on how much is in dispute.  Here's a rundown of those costs - contested vs. uncontested

Costs of a contested divorce in Missouri

1.  Hire your attorney by paying a retainer.  Retainer amounts will be in the thousands, maybe $2,500 on up depending on the attorney.

2.  Hopefully your retainer, which your attorney will be billing against with their hourly work, will at least get you to the case being filed.  If so, your next expense will be the filing fee.  This varies, court to court, but will generally be in the $150-200 range.

3.  Once filed, your spouse will need to be served.  If your spouse is aware of the impending divorce, he or she may go hire an attorney, who will likely contact your attorney and tell him or her that service is not necessary, and that they will accept service on your spouse's behalf.  If not, and you have to proceed with service, you'll either pay the sheriff (usually around $50) to give it a shot or, if the situation calls for a bit more effort (i.e., spouse may be hard to find or is evading service), you'll probably need to hire a process server.  Process servers will vary in cost a bit and will charge for how much time locating and serving your spouse takes.  Count on at least $75-100 here.

4.  Now that your spouse is served (or has hired an attorney that has accepted service on your spouse's behalf), your case, in a way, finally gets moving.  It may not move quickly, but it is moving.  At this stage you'll mostly incur attorney fees.  As your attorney works on your case, the retainer you originally deposited will be billed against until it is gone.  At that point, you have to fill it back up so your attorney has a trust account full of funds to pay themselves with as they work on your case.  Other miscellaneous expenses will include paying for a court reporter, in the event depositions are necessary, and for any investigators that are required to properly prepare your case.

5.  If the custody of your kids is at issue, the court may appoint at Guardian ad Litem (otherwise known as a GAL) who will be involved throughout the rest of the process.  GALs represent the interests of the children in the divorce.  These are attorneys and bill by the hour as well.  So, yes, their hourly fees will be your responsibility.  If you have a court date that takes 2 hours, you'll pay your attorney for 2 hours worth of work and the GAL for an hour or so of their work (depending on how the Judge divvies up the GALs billable hours between the parties).

6.  After a few months (hopefully), but probably closer to 8 months to a year, your case will start to come to a close.  At this point, you will probably have had to refill the trust account a few times, and those miscellaneous expenses, although quite possibly necessary, have begun to add up.  If settlement talks have been unsuccessful to date, your case will be set for trial.  At that point, your attorney may give you the "this is how much a trial will cost vs. this is how much it will cost to settle the case on terms your spouse will agree with" talk.  It will be your choice to make, whether to proceed to trial or settle, but hopefully your attorney can give you an idea of what the Judge will do in the event of a trial and you can make your decision based on that info.

7.  You're divorced and have spent a good amount of cash.  How much?  Go Google "cost of divorce" and see what average figures you see.... $15,000, $20,000, some sites use figures as high as $100,000. Pretty expensive.

Costs of an Uncontested divorce in Missouri

1.  An uncontested divorce requires that you and your spouse have reached an agreement on all issues in your divorce - child custody and support, if applicable, and division of property and debt.  Maintenance/alimony, payment of attorney fees, and payment of court costs all must agreed upon for the case to be truly uncontested.  Using Linnenbringer Law for your uncontested divorce will cost you, generally, under $1,000 in attorney fees.

2.  No service of process, as your spouse will cooperatively waive service, eliminating that expense and speeding up the process as well.  You will have the filing fee, which as explained above, is about $150-200, depending on the court your case is filed in.  St. Louis County's filing fee is $140 for divorces, whether contested or uncontested.

3.  Your case is filed and at the end of the mandatory waiting period, your case is submitted to the Judge for finalizing.  No extra expenses, no hidden fees, that's that.

Contested cases sometimes cannot be avoided, and when they cannot, an experienced, trust-worthy family law attorney is crucial, regardless of the expense associated with hiring one.  However, many cases do not have to proceed that way, and really shouldn't.  Why should you and your spouse each spend $5,000 or more fighting over assets and debt that you may be able to divide with a level-headed conversation?  If at all possible, it's certainly a talk worth having with your soon to be ex-spouse, in my opinion.

Thank you for reading, happy new year, and please feel free to contact me for more information.

Gerald W. Linnenbringer, Missouri Uncontested Divorce Attorney


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Will you need to appear in court for an uncontested divorce?

Court Appearance Required for an Uncontested Divorce?

In many Missouri courts an uncontested divorce can be filed and, after the 30-day mandatory waiting period ends, submitted to the court for finalizing without a party ever appearing in court.  This assumes, of course, that at least one party has retained an uncontested divorce attorney to handle their case.

For a Judgment for Dissolution to be entered in Missouri, there have to be certain legal findings.  For example, the court must find that the marriage of the parties is irretrievably broken, that at least one party has lived in Missouri for 90 days prior to the filing of the Petition for Dissolution, that the Wife is not currently pregnant, among some other things.

In order to make these findings, the court needs evidence.  This evidence can delivered through testimony, for example, or documents, or a number of other methods.  When the issues are not in dispute - i.e., in an uncontested case - the parties can agree to the issues surrounding the case, and admit through a written, sworn affidavit all of the facts that the court needs to make the findings required to order a dissolution of the parties' marriage.

The affidavit then, in essence, replaces a parties in-court testimony.  Instead of your attorney putting you on the stand and asking, "isn't it true you have lived in Missouri for 90 days prior to the filing of the petition for dissolution . . . isn't it true you and your spouse were married on such-and-such date . . . isn't it true your marriage is registered in whatever county . . . etc," you can simply sign an affidavit admitting to these facts and answering these questions.  Submitting the case on affidavit promotes judicial efficiency and allows the parties to avoid the hassle and, as some feel, the intimidation and nervousness that comes with being sworn in, put on the stand, and delivering testimony.

If you have any other questions regarding Missouri uncontested divorce, please visit my page at www.linnenbringerlaw.com or email me (GWL@LinnenbringerLaw.com).

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

Gerald W. Linnenbringer, Missouri Uncontested Divorce Attorney


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Divorce process in Missouri: Uncontested and Contested Cases

I'm asked what the divorce process is in Missouri all of the time.  Like all other things divorce, the answer to this question is very different depending on whether the divorce is uncontested or contested.

1.  Getting started
Whether contested or uncontested, your case will begin with you providing information to your lawyer and making a payment.  The information needed to draft your paperwork will include demographic info - names, dates of birth, addresses, social security numbers, etc. - and a rundown of your property and debt, and income and expense.  If your case is uncontested, you will also need to be able to provide your attorney with the agreed-upon disposition of your property and debt.  If your case is contested, your attorney will likely want to know what your proposed/ideal distribution of the property and debt would be at the conclusion of the case.

When it comes to the contested-uncontested distinction, things really start looking and feeling different when it's time to pay.  If your case is contested, you'll be depositing a retainer and signing an agreement to make additional payments once that retainer is exhausted.  Many attorneys also use the retainer/billable hours for uncontested cases.  Honestly, I don't think this is necessary (or right, for that matter).  As an attorney experienced in handling uncontested divorces, I know how much work will be required from the case based on the information the client provides.  For this reason, I can provide a flat-fee quote for attorney fees.  This way the client knows exactly how much they'll pay for their divorce.

2.  Drafting of Pleadings
Once your attorney has the information (and payment, of course), he or she gets started on your paperwork.  Whether contested or uncontested, your case will require initial filings to get things rolling.  These filings include a Petition for Dissolution, a Statement of Income and Expense, and a Statement of Assets and Liabilities.  There are also a few coversheets that must be completed and filed with your case, but you can let your attorney worry about those.  If your case is contested, you'll see them on your bill, I'm sure.

3.  Case is filed, now what?
Once filed, things differ a little, contested vs. uncontested.  In an uncontested case, your spouse should waive service of process, which serves to, as it sounds like, waive the necessity of being served by the sheriff or a process server.  At this point the 30-day mandatory waiting period starts ticking away and you're on the way to your case being concluded.

In a contested case, the attorney will likely request a summons be issued so your spouse can be properly served.   It differs court to court, of course, but it generally takes a week or two after the case is filed to receive the summons.  When your attorney receives the summons, he or she forwards it on to their process server for service on the spouse.

Once the spouse is properly served, he or she has 30-days to hire an attorney to file an Answer to the Petition for Dissolution or, alternatively, your spouse can file an Answer pro se (without an attorney).  If the spouse fails to act - whether by filing their own Answer or hiring an attorney to do so - he or she is in default and your attorney can head up to court and request a default hearing date.  Assuming the spouse continues to ignore the proceedings, you'll be divorced at that default hearing.

The more likely situation, of course, is that your spouse will be served, he or she will go hire their own attorney, and then the case starts the slow crawl towards completion.  Once two attorneys are involved, expect discovery motions, requests for temporary maintenance, custody, support, etc, and all sorts of other things that will (hopefully) go towards resolving your case in a way that is favorable to you and that will (definitely) cost you some cash in attorney fees.

4.  Respondent Served / Waived Service, 30-days waiting period is up...
In an uncontested case, your attorney can get your case submitted to the Judge for review immediately upon the tolling of the 30-day waiting period.  This final submission to the Judge will include a Judgment of Dissolution, Marital Settlement Agreement (disposing of property and debt), and, if children are involved, a Parenting Plan.  If the particular court your case is filed in allows for it, your case will probably be submitted on Affidavits, which will allow a Judgment to be entered without the necessity of a court appearance.

If your case is contested, you won't be paying much attention to the 30-day waiting period, really, as your case will undoubtedly take much, much longer than this anyway.  You'll plod along through motion hearings, settlement conferences, and so on and so forth.  Each step in the process will have fees associated with it, of course.

I would guess that the average contested case takes 6 months to a year, but that's just based on the cases I've handled and what I see on the dockets.  Many cases take longer than a year, but most Judges prefer a more expedited conclusion and will pressure the attorneys to resolve the case or set it for trial.  Why do cases often take this long?  Discovery, uncooperative spouses or unreasonable expectations, your attorney has a couple kids in private school and tuition is expensive (a joke, of course...), or a myriad of other issues that can pop up through the divorce process.

5.  You're divorced
Once the Judge signs the dissolution judgment - whether through a quick submission by affidavit or after months of hearings and a trial - you're divorced.  At this point, the contested vs. uncontested distinction doesn't mean much.  You now have a Judgment that requires each spouse to follow the terms laid out in the Settlement Agreement and Parenting Plan.  If an ex-spouse does not comply with the Judgment, the aggrieved ex-spouse has the right to file a contempt motion to compel the non-compliant ex-spouse to follow the terms of the dissolution.  This can be get expensive too, of course.


As you can see, a contested case can take a long time and can be very expensive.  An uncontested case can be completed quickly and at a reasonable expense, but that does not mean you should not hire an attorney that is experienced in handling these matters.  I focus my practice on handling uncontested divorces as quickly as possible all while making sure that the agreements and parenting plans filed in your case address any potential post-dissolution conflicts.  As an uncontested divorce attorney, my goal is that after your divorce is finalized, you never have to call me again (no offense), because your settlement agreement and parenting plan have clear guidelines as to how any and all post-dissolution contingencies should be resolved.

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

Gerald W. Linnenbringer, Missouri Uncontested Divorce Attorney


Friday, September 27, 2013

Timeline for a Missouri uncontested divorce

How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take in Missouri?

I can't speak for other lawyers (they generally talk enough as is), but here is the rough timeline I provide clients when they ask how long their uncontested divorce will take:

First, with my uncontested divorce process, things start once I have information and payment.  The information will be provided to me through a face-to-face interview or through in intake packet that the client can fill out remotely and then return to me once completed.  It doesn't matter how I get the information, whether through an interview or remotely through my intake packet, it's completely up to the client.  Payment can be done at the conclusion of the face-to-face interview, or it can be submitted with the completed intake packet.  Exact pricing and the details of the transaction and representation are worked out on a case-to-case basis, of course.

Once I have information and payment, I draft all of the paperwork necessary to facilitate the uncontested divorce.  The substantive documents in the divorce are the Marital Settlement Agreement and the Parenting Plan (if children are involved).  Because these documents are so important, the settlement, of course, controlling the disposition of property and debt, and the parenting plan outlining the custody and support plan pertaining to the children, I send PDF versions of these pleadings to my client.  I ask that the client review the documents closely with his or her spouse and to get back to me with whatever revisions, edits, corrections, etc. that need to be made.  The parties generally prefer to have an opportunity to print these pleadings and review them carefully in the comfort of their home or office, as opposed to bringing them into my office and asking them to review everything while I sit across from them.

Once everything is signed, we're ready to file.  There is a set of coversheets that must accompany the initial filings, and the everything must be submitted to the court in person, so it can take a day or two from the date of signing to get things filed.  However, since if the case is not filed, we're not making any progress towards getting through the 30-day mandatory waiting period, I try to get my divorces filed as soon as possible after the client and spouse sign.

Once the 30-day waiting period lapses, I go in, pull the court file, and present everything to the Judge.  If he or she finds that everything is in order and the settlement agreement (and parenting plan, if applicable) is acceptable to the Court, the divorce is final upon the Judge signing off on the Judgment.

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

Gerald W. Linnenbringer, Missouri Uncontested Divorce Attorney


Friday, July 19, 2013

Can you get divorced if you don't know where your spouse is?

If you're in a position where you would like a divorce but you have no idea where your spouse is, nor any way to figure out where he or she may be, you can still get your dissolution.  It takes a bit longer, and it's a little more expensive than a relatively cheap uncontested divorce where both parties are cooperating, but it is still possible.

First, you'll need to make a solid, good-faith effort to locate the missing spouse, including using a skiptrace or other means of attempting to locate.  Some clients even reach out via social networks.  Assuming you cannot find your spouse, you will sign a Notice of Publication, and later testify under oath, at the conclusion of your case, that your spouse cannot be located despite your best efforts to do so.

Since proper service is required for any case, including divorces, and personal service cannot be obtained on a missing spouse, the law allows for service by publication.  In this situation, a notice is put in the legal newspaper in the county the case is filed in (in St. Louis County, for example, the notice is put in The Countian).  The client is responsible for paying to have the ad ran for a 4-week period.

Assuming the missing spouse does not see the newspaper publication and consequently do not file an Answer or hire an attorney, he or she will be in default 45-days after the date of first publication.  Once in default, you can move the court for an interlocutory order of default and set the case for a default hearing.  At that default hearing the client testifies to the required elements of a dissolution action and, assuming all goes smoothly, the divorce is ordered at the conclusion of the hearing.

Using service by publication is not an end-around to getting a divorce without your spouse being properly served.  If you can locate your spouse, you will need to have him or her served by a process server or the sheriff.  If, however, you cannot locate your spouse and have no reasonable way in which to find them, you can proceed with service by publication.  Compared to a straight uncontested divorce where both parties are cooperating, a divorce that requires service by publication will be more expensive and take a bit longer.

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

Gerald W. Linnenbringer, Missouri Uncontested Divorce Attorney


Monday, April 22, 2013

The divorce lawyer's role in your uncontested divorce.

A lawyer works within a limited-scope representation when handling your uncontested divorce.  To me, one of most important thing to consider when choosing whether to proceed with your divorce without a more traditional in-court "fight," is how much you trust your spouse.  The reason for this is simple - an attorney working on your uncontested divorce is relying entirely on your disclosure of facts and will not be doing any independent investigation.  Your uncontested divorce lawyer will not be subpoenaing records from financial institutions, he or she won't depose your spouse, try to locate hidden assets, nor try to determine what would be a fair split of your property.

It is important for client's hiring an attorney for an uncontested divorce to understand that their representation does not likely include investigation and filing motions to compel the other spouse to do things.  Please see the following, taken directly from the limited scope representation agreement, as to what my role is in an "standard" uncontested divorce (following may vary a bit from case-to-case, as agreed upon by client and attorney):


I, the lawyer, agree to help you by performing the following limited services listed below and no other service, unless we revise this agreement in writing.

a) Give legal advice through office visits, telephone calls, fax, mail or e-mail;  YES

b) Advise about alternate means of resolving the matter including mediation & arbitration;  NO

c) Evaluate the client’s self-diagnosis of the case and advise about legal rights and responsibilities;  YES

d) Review pleadings and other documents prepared by you, the client;  NO

e) Provide guidance and procedural information regarding filing and serving documents;  YES

f) Suggest documents to be prepared;  YES

g) Draft pleadings, motions and other documents;  YES

h) Perform factual investigation including contacting witnesses, public record searches, 
in-depth interview of you, the client;  NO

i) Perform legal research and analysis;  NO

j) Evaluate settlement options;  NO

k) Perform discovery by interrogatories, deposition and requests for admissions;  NO

l) Plan for negotiations;  NO

m) Plan for court appearances; NO

n) Provide standby telephone assistance during negotiations or settlement conferences; NO

o) Refer you, the client, to expert witnesses, special masters or other attorneys; NO

p) Provide procedural assistance with and appeal; NO

q) Provide substantive legal arguments in an appeal;  NO

r) Appear in court for the limited purpose of (1) filing pleadings, (2) submitting final pleadings to the Court; (3) attending default hearing (if applicable); (4) filing Motion to Withdraw (if representation has ended because case is complete or because the scope of representation has been exceeded).  YES


As you can see, I give legal advice as to what is required for the uncontested divorce and, generally, how the law may apply to your situation and any questions you may have.  I prepare the pleadings in a legally sufficient manner to ensure accuracy and comprehensiveness, and file these pleadings with the court.  I appear in court, draft and file the appropriate pleadings, and at the end of the mandatory waiting period, present the final Judgment, Settlement Agreement, and (if applicable) Parenting Plan, to the court.  If the parenting plan and settlement agreement are approved, the dissolution is final upon the Judge's signature.

If you are interested in the uncontested divorce process or have questions regarding uncontested divorce, please feel free to contact me.  I handle uncontested divorces in St. Louis County, St. Charles County, St. Louis City, Franklin County, Jefferson County, and many other surrounding counties in Missouri for reasonable flat fees.

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

Gerald W. Linnenbringer, Missouri Uncontested Divorce Attorney


Thursday, March 28, 2013

What about an uncontested legal separation?

Divorce vs. Legal Separation

Potential clients often inquire about legal separations - mostly uncontested legal separations - and I find that the main misconception about the legal separation is that it will somehow be an "easier" case to file and get through the courts.

The fact of the matter is, however, all issues that must be ironed out in a dissolution case must also be ironed out in a legal separation case.  The end result are is different, of course, at the conclusion of a dissolution case you're divorced, where at the end of a legal separation case you are not.  The issues that must be decided on are basically the same though - property distribution, debt allocation, child custody, child support, etc.

So why do people get legal separations?  Some people genuinely believe the marriage can possibly be saved and that a little time apart - legally and otherwise - may help, while many choose legal separations for insurance purposes.  A legal separation will likely not cause any issues or disruptions in health insurance coverage provided by the spouse, compared to post-dissolution, where an individual will almost certainly not be able to stay on their ex-spouse's health insurance plan.  Both statements are generalities, of course, and you should speak with your company's HR department as to the affect legal separation and dissolutions have on your particular plan's coverage of spouses (and ex-spouses).

Uncontested legal separations can be done as quickly and efficiently as uncontested dissolution cases.  Please feel free to contact me with any follow-up questions you may have.

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

Gerald W. Linnenbringer, Missouri Uncontested Divorce Attorney


Friday, February 1, 2013

How much does a divorce cost in Missouri?

Cost of Divorce in Missouri

The most common Google search terms that bring people to my law office's homepage are, in order of popularity:

  •  Missouri uncontested divorce
  •  cheap divorce lawyer
  •  affordable uncontested divorce
  •  uncontested divorce St. Louis
  •  Missouri uncontested divorce cost
  •  how much does a divorce cost in Missouri
  •  St. Louis divorce
  •  cheap uncontested divorce
As you can see, price-related inquiries make up 5 of the top 8 search phrases.  This shouldn't surprise anyone I wouldn't think - the cost of a product or service is often the most important factor when making a choice. 

The problem with answering the question, "how much will my divorce cost," is that it is almost impossible to answer.  For most attorneys, you will be billed a retainer - maybe $2,000 to $5,000 on up - in which hourly work will be billed against.  Once your retainer is "used up," your attorney will have his or her hand out again, asking you replenish your trust account.  The newly replenished trust account will be billed against, with the attorney "paying themselves" as they complete their hourly work on your case.  Each time the trust account is empty, you'll be expected to fill 'er up, so the attorney can continue to bill against your deposit and get paid for their work.

So in the situation of a contested case - where the billing is setup as described above - you can see how and why your contested divorce gets very expensive, very fast.  If your divorce lawyer bills at $250 per hour, for example, and you have a court date - even a court date where the case is simply continued - you'll be paying for the attorney to drive to the court, complete the in-court work, and drive back to the office.  That could take two hours, meaning you're down $500 for that simple, quick task.  Your attorney needs to go file your updated Statement of Income and Expense?  Expect a bill for the drive time, walking to court, going to appropriate floor to file the pleading, etc.  It racks up fees quickly.

The alternative is of course a flat-fee uncontested divorce.  I do hundreds of these cases per year, with the average flat-fee being in the $750 range or so.  Some cost a bit less, some cost a bit more.  Bottom line though, you know how much it will cost when you agree to proceed, making planning and budgeting for the expense possible.

If you or your spouse is a Missouri resident, please feel free to contact me for a personalized, more accurate estimate of attorney fees involved in completing your uncontested divorce.

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

Gerald W. Linnenbringer, Missouri Uncontested Divorce Attorney


Friday, January 18, 2013

Uncontested Divorce Advantages and Disadvantages

Just like any other decision, there are advantages and disadvantages in reaching an agreement with your spouse prior to any court or attorney involvement, and proceeding with an uncontested divorce.

Probably the most cited benefit of proceeding with an uncontested divorce is cost.  You've likely spoken with individuals who have had long, drawn out, expensive divorce cases.  Multiple internet sources (Forbes, Womansdivorce.com, Bankrate.com, among others)  claim the average cost of divorce in the U.S ranges from $15,000 to $30,000, with the majority of that money going towards attorney fees.  Think about that - if both spouses are paying an attorney $15,000 to $30,000, that means you're paying two attorneys a combined $50,000 or so to determine how your property should be divided and who is a better parent.  If the parties can reach a reasonable agreement, however, that $50,000 can be split among themselves or be used to pay for their children's college education, for example.  Contrast that to an uncontested case, where attorney fees are much, much less, potentially around the $1,000 range even.

Here are some other factors to consider when weighing whether to attempt to facilitate an uncontested divorce with your spouse or proceeding with a more "traditional" contested dissolution:

1.  The outcome - In an uncontested case, you and your spouse essentially decide on the outcome.  You come to an agreement regarding your property division, debt allocation, maintenance, child custody, and child support.  In an ideal uncontested situation, each spouse can set aside the emotional aspects of the dissolution and focus on the dissolution in a more business-like manner, weighing the factors that each spouse feels should influence the property division and determination of custody/support of the children and coming up with a workable solution for both parties.  In this uncontested situation, the division of property and custody/support of the children is influenced by the factors you and your spouse deem important.

Contrast that to a contested case where a Judge (or two attorneys negotiating on you and your spouse's behalf) come up with a disposition they feel is appropriate and fair based on the evidence they are presented with.  The final disposition will be influenced by factors you probably wouldn't think should be determinative, such as your attorney's skill, the judge's opinions and application of the law, and the law itself.

2.  The stress - Think about what comes with a contested case:  court appearances, attorney fees to pay, animosity between you and your spouse, the problems a contested, drawn-out divorce can have on your children, dealing with attorneys, etc...  This can be a very stressful.  In fact, divorce ranks right up there as #2 (with the death of a spouse being #1) with the most stressful event in one's life.

3.  Speed - Contested divorce cases can take awhile.  With discovery, document review, motions, hearings, court dates, continuances, trial dates, etc., the process can easily take a year or more.  Even with Missouri's 30 day mandatory waiting period between the filing of the petition and waiver of service and the entry of the final judgment, the process is much quicker.  Most of my uncontested cases are wrapped up in under two months, some in as little as 31 days.

Not every case can proceed as an uncontested divorce, of course.  Unreasonable spouses and complex issues that require the speciality, knowledge, and skill of experienced family law attorneys will pop up in certain marriages and divorces.  However, if your case is of the more traditional nature, you may want to explore whether an uncontested divorce is for you.

Thank you for reading.  More information about uncontested divorce in Missouri can be found on my website.

Gerald W. Linnenbringer, Missouri Uncontested Divorce Attorney


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Can you file for an uncontested divorce in Missouri without an attorney?

DIY Divorce Forms vs. Uncontested Divorce Representation

Yes, you can file your uncontested divorce in Missouri pro se (without an attorney).  I'll even provide a link to those forms:


If you choose to file without an attorney, Missouri Supreme Court Rule 88.09 requires that you complete a litigant awareness program.  You and your spouse will both need to take the course, and each of will need to bring your certificate of completion to your court date.  Yes, at least one court appearance will be required if you choose to file yourself.

This and other information can be found in the 8-page pro se divorce instructional pamphlet that is provided by St. Louis County Family Court.  Further instructions and information can be found throughout the 70-pages of Dissolution of Marriage pro se forms.  After you graduate from your Litigant Awareness Program, study the 8-page detailed-instructions pamphlet, and complete the 70-pages of forms, you'll be ready to head to the court to file your case.  Make sure everything is correct, as one mistake could cause the case to be dismissed or lead to an outcome you and your spouse did not intend.

Alternatively, if you would like an attorney to handle your uncontested divorce case from start to finish at a reasonable rate, and allow you to avoid any litigant awareness classes and/or court appearances, please feel free to give me a call or shoot me an email.

Further information regarding uncontested divorce can be found on my website's Missouri Uncontested Divorce FAQ.

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

Gerald W. Linnenbringer, Missouri Uncontested Divorce Attorney


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Your Missouri uncontested divorce can now be submitted online.

Online Uncontested Divorce

My law office now allows clients to initiate and pay for their uncontested divorce online.  Of course, traditional ways of handling the uncontested divorce process are still available.   After many requests, however, you can now complete a simple, straight-forward Missouri uncontested divorce online form .

Prospective clients can not submit the information needed to complete their uncontested divorce pleadings directly online.  At the end of the form, you will be prompted for payment.  No surprises, no hourly fees - just straight-forward, flat-fee billing.  Upon making your payment, the information will be sent to me so I can review it, ask any follow-up questions, and proceed with preparing your paperwork.  Every step along the way is 100% secure as well.

Feel free to visit my webpage to start your uncontested divorce.  Call or email if you have questions along the way, I will be happy to help.  The uncontested divorce online submission should be used only when one spouse is a Missouri resident.  I also urge potential clients to assess their individual case prior to submitting it online.  If there are complexities that make your divorce - even if uncontested - a bit more involved than the standard divorce, please contact me prior to submitting the case online.

Thank you again for reading.  It is my hope that my online uncontested divorce form can help residents across Missouri gain affordable access to our legal system and allow them to btain their uncontested divorce quickly and easily.

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

Gerald W. Linnenbringer, Missouri Uncontested Divorce Attorney


Service of process in an uncontested divorce?

I'm often asked by an uncontested divorce client where his or her spouse will be served.  The answer I give is, they won't be.  In my eyes, if a divorce is truley uncontested, there will not be a need to have the spouse served at all.  Instead, he or she can file a Waiver of Service.

Filing a Waiver of Service eliminates the need to apply for a Summons, pay a process server or the sheriff to serve the spouse, and reduces the time it takes to complete the uncontested divorce process.

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

Gerald W. Linnenbringer, Missouri Uncontested Divorce Attorney


Thursday, January 3, 2013

January starts the divorce season

Many clients wait until after the holidays to file their divorce.  I was online and came across this story about the subject on NBC news.

I can say from experience that this is true.  I have observed that the main two reasons people put off their divorce is holidays and the taxes.  Understanding why people want to wait through the holidays is easy enough, but mostly seems to focus on making the holiday season better for the children.

A couple's tax status is determined on December 31st.  So if you are married on 12/31, you can file married or married but separate.  If you're married for all of 2012, for example, and then get divorced on or before December 31, 2012, you cannot file married, you'll be filing single (or maybe head of household).

With that being the case, many of my clients have me holding their uncontested divorce until the first week of January, so the couple can file jointly one last time.  In this situation, the parties need to make sure that the joint tax refund is addressed in the couple's settlement agreement (ie, the parties agree to file joint federal and state income taxes and split the refund (or deficiency, if applicable) equally, with each party taking 50%).  Anticipating this "future asset" is important as to avoid any post-dissolution disagreements.

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

Gerald W. Linnenbringer, Missouri Uncontested Divorce Attorney