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,,, 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