A LAWYER WHO WILL LISTEN

Christen D. Shepherd Law Office 
204 W Linwood Blvd 
Kansas City, MO 64111 
Phone: 816-842-4445 
Fax: 816-221-4446 

Divorce and Annulments
Uncontested Divorce
Spousal Support/Maintenance
Child Support
Custody and Visitation
Modifications
Paternity
Adoption and Guardianships
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Orders of Protection


Blog - Christen D. Shepherd

November 2017

Kansas City Guardianship Lawyer, Christen D. Shepherd - Experience that Counts…

When You Can Be the Best Home for a Child:

While it can be a painful experience, it is sometimes necessary to take over guardianship of a child in need. These situations include:

These are just a few of the circumstances that lead family members to seek legal guardianships to protect their nieces, nephews and grandchildren in the short term, or as the first step toward adoption.

Kansas City Guardianship Lawyer, Protecting Children in Need:

Sometimes situations demand that a child be taken from his or her home for the safety and health of the child. Whether those children are facing physical abuse, neglect or abandonment, sometimes petitioning the courts for a guardianship is the only way to ensure that the children do not stay in danger or become wards of the state.

While many guardianships are contested, others are a way for parents to have time to get their lives back in order and be responsible parents. If your own child, brother or sister is facing serious chemical dependency or mental health issues, a guardianship contingent on the parent completing a course of professional treatment can be a way to protect children in the short term.

In this way, families can step in to help the children temporarily while a parent cleans up his or her life, or as a first step on the permanent road toward adoption.

Kansas City Guardianship Lawyer, Protecting Legitimate Parents:

However, sometimes family members unfairly try to use guardianship to take rightful custody from a parent. When this happens, you need strong representation from a Kansas City guardianship attorney, Christen D. Shepherd, who is dedicated to protecting you and your children.

Christen D. Shepherd is a strong defender for parental rights, and knows that guardianship should only be an option when a child is in real danger and not just when a grandparent or sibling disagrees with how you choose to raise your children.

Kansas City Guardianship Lawyer with the Experience You Need:

In the end, the court cares about protecting the children. Attorney Christen D. Shepherd creates reasonable expectations for her clients, whether they are people seeking guardianship over a child who is sincerely in trouble or parents who are defending against an unnecessary petition from a grandparent. Contact Kansas City guardianship lawyer, Christen D. Shepherd today to discuss your guardianship concerns during your free initial phone consultation.

 

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October 2017

Kansas City Child Support Attorney, Christen D. Shepherd…

Who Pays for Those Additional Child-Related Expenses?

The spouses have to decide who will pay for the children’s upkeep, and how it will be paid. The financial responsibilities include paying for the dental and medical insurance, college education, camps, sports, clothing, luxuries, and other expenses of the children.  When you hire Ms. Shepherd, she will discuss the following with you so that future Modifications of Child Support on the basis of additional expenses can be avoided. 

The Main Point of Conflict:

The person who pays the child support may say that certain expenses are already covered in the monthly child support payment and refuse to pay for them separately. 

Ways to Avoid This Conflict:

First, in order to stay away from this conflict and confusion, the two divorcing spouses can clearly define child support in the divorce decree. They can state the items covered by it and not covered by it.

Secondly, the divorcing spouses can arrive at an agreement regarding the payment for uncovered expenses (expenses that are not part of child support). They can choose to make joint decisions and share the expenses. Typically if the court has to decide, it decides the sharing of these expenses on the basis of the divorcing spouses’ incomes.

Thirdly, after setting the clear categories of expenses, the two parties should decide how they will approve a particular expense and share it.

Ideally, all the details of meeting the children’s expenses will be stated clearly in the divorce decree. This will reduce the chances of one-sided decisions and encourage both of the parents to have a say, and share in the expenditure.

The parents ought to work together to take care of the children’s activities and the expenses involved. This will help to move things smoothly without adversely affecting the children.

Modification of Child Support After the Divorce:

If there are any gray areas in your divorce decree concerning expenses related to the children, the two parents either work out a modification agreement or go to court once again to determine the payment.

In preparation for a settlement conference or court, the concerned parent should write down the items of expenditure to be addressed and also explain the way in which that parent would like to share the expenses.  After we review your list and your wishes with you, we will consult with the other parent’s attorney and compare the lists to see if there are any areas of agreement. If there are any points of disagreement, we will work to resolve them so that no more litigation is required in future. 

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September 1, 2017

Kansas City Child Custody Attorney, Christen D. Shepherd…

How Is Missouri Child Custody Decided? Who Will Get Custody Of Our Child?

Missouri child custody laws state the court is required to determine what is in the best interests of the children. There are two components to the custody of a child that the court must determine.

Legal Custody:  The court must decide which parent will have, or how both parents will share, the decision-making rights, responsibilities, and authority relating to the health, education and welfare of the child. This is referred to as legal custody.

Physical Custody:  The court must also decide where the child will live and how the parents will share the physical time with the child. This component is referred to as physical custody.

Missouri custody laws provide that the court is required to consider all relevant factors including:

When Can Our Child Decide Which Parent to Live With?

In Missouri child custody issues, one of the factors the court must consider is the wishes of the child. Courts will allow the child to give testimony on his or her preference if the court determines that is appropriate.

The courts have indicated that starting around age 11, a child can express his or her opinion about where he or she would like to live primarily. The judge will decide how much weight to give to a child’s opinion. The older a child gets, the more weight his or her opinion is given in deciding who should have custody of the child.  However, the judge does not always allow an older child to decide.  The question of whether your child should testify should be discussed with our child custody attorney, Christen D. Shepherd. 

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August 2017

Kansas City Divorce Attorney, Christen D. Shepherd

The Effects of Divorce on Your Retirement:

When you are married, you put plans in place for your retirement, for both you and your spouse. However, if you end up getting divorced, what effect does this have on your retirement fund? If you’re going to be living out your retirement on your own, you need to ensure that you are going to be okay financially when you retire. It may be time to re-think your retirement plans. It makes sense to speak to a Kansas City divorce attorney, Christen D. Shepherd, regarding this issue. Even if your divorce is amicable, you will likely need some good advice regarding your retirement plans.

Splitting the Retirement Fund:

The law in Missouri states that when a married couple divorces, the property and the assets are split between both partners. Even if your retirement fund accounts are in your name solely, it is still counted as an asset of the marriage and so it is also liable to be split two ways.

The marital assets must be split equitably. It’s easy to think that this means an equal split, down the middle. It actually means that it should be split fairly. This means that it can be divided out in a way which is fair, but not necessarily equal. For example, perhaps you will take all the money in the retirement fund, while your ex-partner keeps the house and you will find an alternative home.

Money Tied Up in Retirement Investment Accounts:

If your money is tied up in a pension plan, it isn’t straightforward to split this up. You need to get a QDRO which is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. This allows funds to be redirected to your spouse who is not named as a holder of the account. It can also help you avoid paying penalties for an early withdrawal. While this sounds great, it can be a complicated procedure, and you should get started with it as soon as possible. Your Kansas City divorce attorney, Christen D. Shepherd, can get you the QDRO help you need.

Taking Social Security Benefits into Account:

Benefits can really make a difference when it comes to living out your retirement in comfort. The amount you get though, depends on your contributions into the system during your working life. You may be able to claim benefits based on your spouse’s credit level, and this doesn’t impact his or her benefit eligibility, so this could be something worth looking into. If you’ve been married for more than ten years then this could be something that you can take advantage of.

Ask a Kansas City Divorce Attorney:

Our legal practice is focused exclusively on family law. We are experienced professionals who have immense knowledge of all the legal issues that can arise during a divorce.

Contact Christen D. Shepherd Law Office today for a free 30 minute phone consultation or by filling out our online contact form.

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July 2017

Child Support Attorney KC, Christen D. Shepherd:

Enforcing Back Child Support Payments: 

Missouri parents who are going through a divorce and requesting child support might need to file a claim to collect retroactive support. They might have to provide several pieces of evidence such as proof that they have tried to collect support and that the other parent has failed to support the child. For a father who has not paid support, the custodial parent may have to prove his paternity.

The non-custodial parent may then counter the claim that he or she has not provided support. Ideally, this would be done with receipts to demonstrate support, but if these are unavailable, the parent might have copies of communication that show support or people who can back up the provision of support. If the non-custodial parent has not been making regular support payments, he or she may have been providing other types of support such as clothing and food. A parent who has been unable to provide monetary support might be providing child care for example.

However, even if there is no evidence that the parent has been providing support, the court still may not grant back support payments to the custodial parent. The court may take other factors into account including the ability of the noncustodial parent to pay the back support.

While parents are responsible for supporting their children, when determining child support, a court will consider the parent's income along with other factors such as how much support the parent might already be paying for other children.

Parents who are not receiving the child support they are owed should not try to restrict the other parent's access to the child. Visitation rights are not supposed to be affected by whether a parent is paying support.

Child Support Kansas City:

Unpaid child support can cause much stress.  It is always best to get the help of an experienced Kansas City child support attorney, Christen D. Shepherd, who is in your corner and can help make the process as fair and as uncomplicated as possible.

At Christen D. Shepherd Law Office, we are committed to guiding our clients through child support court matters with the same level of professionalism that we would wish for our own family members. We are aware of the trust our clients place in us with the future of their family and we strive daily to earn it. Call us today to request a FREE 30 minute phone consultation regarding your case.

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June 1, 2017

Kansas City Divorce Attorney, Christen D. Shepherd, Putting Her Experience to Work for You …

Kansas City Divorce Process:

Getting divorced is never an easy thing either financially or emotionally.  There are several things that you have to consider and steps you need to take for your divorce to be finalized instead of drawn out for too long. Consulting a Kansas City divorce attorney, Christen D. Shepherd, is the way to help things go more smoothly and quickly.

Petition for Dissolution of Marriage – Divorce:

In Missouri, there are specific steps that you need to take when you are filing with the court a Petition for divorce.  The first step is that one of the spouses needs to file a Petition for dissolution against the other to get the divorce started. The person who serves the Petition is legally labeled the Petitioner while the other spouse is called the Respondent.

You have to be a resident of the state of Missouri for more than 90 days before you can file for divorce in the state. The divorce filing is called a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, and it requires that each spouse completes a specific set of documents and that they are signed under oath.  Kansas City divorce lawyer, Christen D. Shepherd, is your resource to ensure that you have all the necessary documents.

The second step in the process is to notify the other spouse that the Petition is being filed. The Petitioner (the spouse who starts the divorce and files with the court) must give the Respondent notification in writing and a summons to appear before the court. The respondent then has 30 days to file a response to the Petition. Sometimes, the respondent will file his or her own Petition to counter the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.

Divorce - Temporary Hearing:

While the Petition is pending, you will need to make specific living arrangements about who is paying the bills, how the children are being cared for and any other specifics. If you can’t seem to reach an agreement, you can ask the court to have a hearing in front of a judge to make these decisions. 

Divorce Discovery:

The discovery phase is the pre-trial time when all the information about the marriage, including assets, is prepared. It is the time when the spouses decide whether they can come to a settlement together or if a court needs to decide. During the discovery phase, you can subpoena (the court can require) for specific documents and question opposing sides and get answers under oath (interrogatories). It is also a time when you can depose (ask oral questions under oath) the spouse to get answers about doubted information. The discovery phase is the part of the process where proof is needed, and, if necessary, documentation can be prepared to proceed with a trial.

Divorce Trial:

The trial phase is when a couple appears before a judge with their Kansas City divorce attorneys. Each side, will present their case and ask for what they want. It is the opportunity that both parties have for their side to be heard and to allow the judge to rule (decide) on the specifics of division of assets and debt, child custody and parenting plans, etc.

Kansas City Divorce Attorney:

A divorce is never an easy decision, nor process. It is always best to get the help of an experienced Kansas City divorce attorney, Christen D. Shepherd, who is in your corner and can help make the process as fair and as uncomplicated as possible.

At Christen D. Shepherd Law Office, we are committed to guiding our clients through the court process with the same level of professionalism that we would wish for our own family members. We are aware of the trust our clients place in us with the future of their family and we strive daily to earn it. Call us today to request a FREE 30 minute phone consultation regarding your case.

 

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May 1, 2017

Kansas City Divorce Attorney, Christen D. Shepherd, Putting Her Experience to Work for You …

Financial Support and Child Custody During the Divorce:

After filing the petition (what begins the divorce), but before the final judgment is decided by the judge, either spouse may file temporary motions for maintenance (alimony), child custody, child support and attorneys’ fees. 

Temporary Maintenance (Alimony):

Sometimes temporary maintenance is necessary during the divorce because one spouse may control the marital income and assets.  The purpose of temporary maintenance is to maintain the status quo during the divorce until there is a final judgment.  The motion for temporary maintenance must be supported by an affidavit, which is the spouse’s sworn statement as to his or reason for the need of temporary maintenance.  This affidavit will include the financial resources of the spouse asking for support and the actual amount of maintenance requested.  In order to award temporary maintenance, the court must decide that the spouse asking for maintenance lacks sufficient property to provide for his or her reasonable needs and that the spouse is unable to support himself or herself through appropriate employment.  A temporary maintenance award may be modified if there is proof of a change in circumstances. 

Temporary Child Custody and Support: 

Missouri law permits a court to enter an award of temporary custody and support.  Obtaining custody of a child prior to the divorce may be very important, because courts often grant custody to the parent who has had custody of the child for the greatest period of time immediately before the final court date.  A motion for temporary custody must also be supported by affidavit.  If the other spouse disputes an order for temporary custody, the court must hold a hearing for that spouse to present evidence.  Factors a court uses in deciding temporary custody include the wishes of a child’s parents and the child as to custody.  The court must determine what is in “the best interests of the child”.   

A divorcing spouse may also ask the court for temporary child support, which also is required to have an affidavit supporting it.  The court will consider the following relevant factors in deciding temporary child support:

Kansas City Divorce Attorney, Christen D. Shepherd, Helping You With Financial Support and Child Custody:  

If you or your child need temporary support during your divorce, Ms. Shepherd can help you.  Also, if there is a question as to which parent should have custody during the divorce, Ms. Shepherd can file a motion with the court to decide the same.  Call today for a free initial phone consultation.   

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April 01, 2017

Kansas City Divorce Attorney, Christen D. Shepherd, Putting Her Experience to Work for You

In Missouri, Can Your Spouse Make You Testify and Produce Documents Before Your Trial Date?

The short answer is “yes”.  This is called “discovery” and there are many different forms of it as follows:

What Is the Purpose of This Discovery?

The primary uses of discovery in a dissolution of marriage (divorce) are to:

Overall, discovery can assist in:

In Missouri, Will Discovery Be Necessary in My Divorce?

If the spouses still trust one another, the spouses can agree to voluntarily exchange documents and not undertake the other forms of discovery.  Sometimes you will know for certain the answers that your lawyer will ask about concerning what you own and owe as well as the incomes and other matters.  If you feel certain you have all the answers that would have been asked in discovery, then discovery may not be necessary.

Kansas City Divorce Attorney, Christen D. Shepherd, Will Help You Decide: 

Overall, Ms. Shepherd will listen to what you believe are the facts of your divorce, determine your wishes and advise you of the best way to proceed.   

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March 2017

Kansas City Divorce Attorney, Christen D. Shepherd, Putting Her Experience to Work for You …

In a Missouri divorce, how will property be divided between the spouses?

If Your Spouse and You Can’t Agree, a Missouri Court Will Decide How Marital Property is Divided:

The court has the responsibility of determining the character of property owned by the spouses.  Property is found to be either “marital” or “non-marital”.  After the court has determined the character of the property, it must award each spouse his or her non-marital property.  The court then divides the marital property between spouses “in such proportions as the court deems just after considering all relevant factors…” Section 452.330.1 or the Missouri Statutes.

The Court Classifies Property:

“Marital property” is all property acquired by either spouse after the marriage.  Non-marital property is listed as follows:

  1. Property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or descent;

  2. Property acquired in exchange for non-marital property or in exchange for property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or descent;

  3. Property acquired by a spouse after a Decree of Legal Separation;

  4. Property excluded by a valid written agreement (by pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement);

  5. The increase in the value of non-marital property (as listed above in numbers 1-4), unless marital assets, including labor, have contributed to the increase in non-marital property value, and then only to the extent of such contributions. 

Ms. Shepherd Will Help You Determine “Marital” and “Non-Marital” Property and Help You Divide It:

Ms. Shepherd can determine whether property is either “marital” or “non-marital”.  She will meet with you, review your documents and advise you.  After that, she will draft a proposed division of property which can be presented to your spouse and used in settlement negotiations.  Only if you divorce case is tried, will the court determine how your property is divided.  If you and your spouse agree on the property division, the court will then be asked to approve your settlement agreement. 

Kansas City Divorce Lawyer, Christen D. Shepherd, Serving Jackson, Clay and Platte Counties Including:

North Kansas City (NKC), Kansas City (KCMO), Platte City, Liberty, Avondale, Birmingham, Claycomo, Ectonville, Excelsior Estates, Excelsior Springs, Gladstone, Glenaire, Holt, Kearney, Lawson, Missouri City, Mosby, Oaks, Oakview, Oakwood, Oakwood Park, Pleasant Valley, Prathersville, Randolph, Smithville, Sugar Creek, Camden Point, Dearborn, East Leavenworth, Edgerton, Farley, Ferrelview, Houston Lake, Iatan, Lake Waukomis, Northmoor, Parkville, Platte Woods, Ridgely, Riverside, Tracy, Waldron, Weatherby Lake, Weston, Blue Springs, Blue Summit, Buckner, Grain Valley, Grandview, Greenwood, Independence, Lake Lotawana, Lake Tapawingo, Lee's Summit, Levasy, Lone Jack, Martin City, Oak Grove, Raytown, River Bend, Sibley, Sugar Creek and Unity Village. 

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February 2017

Kansas City Divorce Attorney, Christen D. Shepherd, Putting Her Experience to Work for You …

Will my spouse have to pay for my attorney fees in my divorce?

Missouri Law on Attorney Fees:

In Missouri, each spouse, with few exceptions, must pay his or her own attorney fees.  However, under Missouri’s dissolution of marriage law, the court may order a spouse to pay a reasonable amount for the costs to the other spouse, including attorney fees incurred before the Petition for Dissolution was filed and after the entry of the final judgment after considering all relevant factors including:

The court can consider additional factors too.  The financial resources of the spouse is but one factor considered by the court in deciding whether to award attorney fees.  It is not the controlling factor.  The inability of one spouse to pay his or her own or the other spouse’s attorney fees is not determinative of whether to award attorney fees.

A judge can consider the conduct of the spouse during the marriage and during the litigation that may have unfairly increased the other spouse’s attorney fees.  Additional things the judge can consider in deciding whether to make one spouse pay for the other spouse’s attorney fees are:

In awarding attorney fees, the judge is not limited to the fees actually earned but can also award fees that are to be incurred.

An attorney fee award is not considered spousal maintenance.

Call Ms. Shepherd Today:

Divorce actions are complicated in Missouri, and Ms. Shepherd can advise you whether you may be entitled to have your spouse pay for your attorney fees.  Call her today for the experienced advice you can count on. 

Kansas City Divorce Lawyer, Christen D. Shepherd, Serving Jackson, Clay and Platte Counties Including:

North Kansas City (NKC), Kansas City (KCMO), Platte City, Liberty, Avondale, Birmingham, Claycomo, Ectonville, Excelsior Estates, Excelsior Springs, Gladstone, Glenaire, Holt, Kearney, Lawson, Missouri City, Mosby, Oaks, Oakview, Oakwood, Oakwood Park, Pleasant Valley, Prathersville, Randolph, Smithville, Sugar Creek, Camden Point, Dearborn, East Leavenworth, Edgerton, Farley, Ferrelview, Houston Lake, Iatan, Lake Waukomis, Northmoor, Parkville, Platte Woods, Ridgely, Riverside, Tracy, Waldron, Weatherby Lake, Weston, Blue Springs, Blue Summit, Buckner, Grain Valley, Grandview, Greenwood, Independence, Lake Lotawana, Lake Tapawingo, Lee's Summit, Levasy, Lone Jack, Martin City, Oak Grove, Raytown, River Bend, Sibley, Sugar Creek and Unity Village.

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January 2017

Kansas City Divorce Attorney, Christen D. Shepherd, Putting Her Experience to Work for You...

Do You Have 401K’s, IRA’s and Pension Plans that Must Be Divided With Your Spouse?

Many spouses have investments and retirement plans which must be divided during the divorce.  Some of our clients are surprised that there are extra costs involved to divide retirement plans like 401K’s, IRA’s and pension plans.  This division is effectuated through a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO).  We can guide you to the right specialist to accomplish this division, but you should expect an additional cost of $700 - $1000 from the specialist.  Sometimes a Plan Administrator will also charge to review and qualify a Plan division.  Our goal is to minimize the Plan Administrator charges if possible by guiding you to the right QDRO specialist initially.  In order to divide these assets, you will need to provide us the following documents:

Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDRO’s) – What Are the Terms Used?

When the retirement plans are employer-sponsored retirement plans, typically a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is required in order to accomplish the division. Some basic components of QDROs include:

What Are the Options for Division of Retirement Plans?

In general, there are two types of qualified retirement plans, defined contribution and defined benefit plans.

Defined Contributions Division:  Common ways to divide defined contribution plans (for example. 401(k) and savings plans) include division expressed as a dollar amount or based upon a percentage. In both cases the division should be “as of” a specific date and, to account for market fluctuation, the QDRO should state if the amount divided will include investment earnings or losses.

Sometimes the Participant will have taken a loan against his or her defined contribution plan. The QDRO should state whether any outstanding loan balance will be taken into account in dividing a benefit if the Alternate Payee is to receive a percentage of the Participant’s interest.

Defined Benefit Plan Division:  Common ways to divide defined benefit plans (for example pensions and annuities) include a fixed or formula approach.

A fixed approach provides for the Alternate Payee to receive a portion of the Participant’s accrued benefit (not necessarily fifty percent) as of a specific date (not necessarily the date of the divorce). It is also possible to provide a specific dollar amount, but this should not be done except for in very specific situations.

A formula approach provides for the Alternate Payee receive a percentage of only the portion of the Participant’s total accrued benefit at actual retirement that was accrued during the marriage. To do this, the Participant’s total accrued benefit is multiplied by a fraction, the numerator of which is the number of years of accrued benefits during the parties’ marriage and the denominator is the Participant’s total years of accrued benefits. This method is sometimes referred to as the “fractional” or “coverture” method. By using the formula approach, the Participant’s pre and post-marital property is not shared with the Alternate Payee. At the same time, the Alternate Payee is able to share in increased benefits due to years of service (in some cases higher pension benefits may be realized by the Participant as a result of building upon years of service that were accumulated during the marriage – not necessarily contribution).

Kansas City Divorce Lawyer, Christen D. Shepherd, Serving Jackson, Clay and Platte Counties Including:

Platte City, Liberty, North Kansas City (NKC), Kansas City (KCMO), Avondale, Birmingham, Claycomo, Ectonville, Excelsior Estates, Excelsior Springs, Gladstone, Glenaire, Holt, Kearney, Lawson, Missouri City, Mosby, Oaks, Oakview, Oakwood, Oakwood Park, Pleasant Valley, Prathersville, Randolph, Smithville, Sugar Creek, Camden Point, Dearborn, East Leavenworth, Edgerton, Farley, Ferrelview, Houston Lake, Iatan, Lake Waukomis, Northmoor, Parkville, Platte Woods, Ridgely, Riverside, Tracy, Waldron, Weatherby Lake, Weston, Blue Springs, Blue Summit, Buckner, Grain Valley, Grandview, Greenwood, Independence, Lake Lotawana, Lake Tapawingo, Lee's Summit, Levasy, Lone Jack, Martin City, Oak Grove, Raytown, River Bend, Sibley, Sugar Creek and Unity Village. 

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December 2016

Kansas City Prenuptial Agreement Attorney, Christen D. Shepherd, Your Experienced Family Lawyer…

Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements:

Today, with high divorce rates, remarriages, family estate and business succession planning, two-career families, future spouses and sometimes spouses are seeking a practical means of dealing with their property and other financial matters in the event of a divorce or death.  There are two types of nuptial (marriage) agreements.  The first one is agreed and signed before the marriage and is called a “prenuptial” agreement.  The second is agreed and signed after the marriage and is called a “postnuptial” agreement. 

What Are the Advantages of Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements?

These agreements serve useful purposes in allowing the future spouses or spouses to make provisions for themselves, their children, or other loved ones, when considering the possibility of divorce or death.  No attorney can give an ironclad guarantee that these agreements will be honored in a court of law if one spouse contests the enforcement of such an agreement.  But many such agreement have frequently been upheld by the court (enforced), so they should be taken seriously by both future spouses and spouses.

When Are These Agreements Not Enforced in Missouri?

Courts have routinely decided that agreements waiving (giving up) or determining child support, or relating to child custody are against public policy and not enforceable. 

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements will be scrutinized (reviewed heavily) by the courts more so than other types of contracts. 

When to Call Ms. Shepherd:

If you are considering marriage and you have children from a prior marriage or assets that you wish to protect, you should call Ms. Shepherd before saying “I do”.  A critical factor is that the spouses must have had sufficient time to seriously consider the agreement in advance of the marriage.  So call Ms. Shepherd well in advance of the wedding day.

It is difficult to get a spouse to sign a postnuptial agreement, so if a marriage agreement is to be made, it should be done before the marriage.  Call Ms. Shepherd today to see how such an agreement can be drafted to protect you and your children in the event of divorce or death. 

Kansas City Adoption Lawyer, Christen D. Shepherd, Serving Jackson, Clay and Platte Counties Including:

Platte City, Liberty, North Kansas City (NKC), Kansas City (KCMO), Avondale, Birmingham, Claycomo, Ectonville, Excelsior Estates, Excelsior Springs, Gladstone, Glenaire, Holt, Kearney, Lawson, Missouri City, Mosby, Oaks, Oakview, Oakwood, Oakwood Park, Pleasant Valley, Prathersville, Randolph, Smithville, Sugar Creek, Camden Point, Dearborn, East Leavenworth, Edgerton, Farley, Ferrelview, Houston Lake, Iatan, Lake Waukomis, Northmoor, Parkville, Platte Woods, Ridgely, Riverside, Tracy, Waldron, Weatherby Lake, Weston, Blue Springs, Blue Summit, Buckner, Grain Valley, Grandview, Greenwood, Independence, Lake Lotawana, Lake Tapawingo, Lee's Summit, Levasy, Lone Jack, Martin City, Oak Grove, Raytown, River Bend, Sibley, Sugar Creek and Unity Village. 

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November 2016

Kansas City Adoption Lawyer, Christen D. Shepherd, Your Experienced Family Lawyer:

What is a Stepparent Adoption?

A stepparent adoption is where the married spouse of the birth parent wants to adopt the child.  Custody of the child is begun upon the marriage of the birth parent to the current spouse so long as the birth parent had lawful custody of the child at the time of the marriage.

What Are the Requirements Before the Stepparent Adoption Can Happen?

What Are the Legal Requirements of the Stepparent After the Adoption? 

Stepparent Adoptions – Steps that Require an Experienced Attorney:

As you can see from the above, although a stepparent adoption would seem to be fairly straightforward, there are many steps in the process.  And if the birth parent refuses to give consent, Ms. Shepherd can aggressively present your case to the court.  Ms. Shepherd is an experienced Kansas City family law attorney who will guide you through the stepparent adoption process and advocate on your behalf.  Give her a call today.

Kansas City Adoption Lawyer, Christen D. Shepherd, Serving Jackson, Clay and Platte Counties Including:

Platte City, Liberty, North Kansas City (NKC), Kansas City (KCMO), Avondale, Birmingham, Claycomo, Ectonville, Excelsior Estates, Excelsior Springs, Gladstone, Glenaire, Holt, Kearney, Lawson, Missouri City, Mosby, Oaks, Oakview, Oakwood, Oakwood Park, Pleasant Valley, Prathersville, Randolph, Smithville, Sugar Creek, Camden Point, Dearborn, East Leavenworth, Edgerton, Farley, Ferrelview, Houston Lake, Iatan, Lake Waukomis, Northmoor, Parkville, Platte Woods, Ridgely, Riverside, Tracy, Waldron, Weatherby Lake, Weston, Blue Springs, Blue Summit, Buckner, Grain Valley, Grandview, Greenwood, Independence, Lake Lotawana, Lake Tapawingo, Lee's Summit, Levasy, Lone Jack, Martin City, Oak Grove, Raytown, River Bend, Sibley, Sugar Creek and Unity Village. 

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October 2016

Kansas City Paternity Lawyer, Christen D. Shepherd, Your Experienced Family Lawyer:

Two Ways to Establish Paternity in Missouri:  By Affidavit or Paternity Lawsuit

Today, many children are born outside of marriage.  In Missouri, there are two ways to establish paternity.  The first is by signing an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity and the second is through a Paternity Lawsuit.  Placing a father’s name on your child’s birth certificate does not establish Paternity.

What is a Missouri Paternity Affidavit?

In Missouri, unwed parents can agree to sign an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity when your child is born.  This document states both parents agree on who are the biological parents of their child, but it does not establish legal and physical custody, a parenting plan, a residential address for the minor child, sharing of costs outside child support, establishing an amount and payment plan for monthly child support or many other necessary things concerning your child.  This document only will guarantee that the father has to pay child support.  As you can see, signing an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity leaves many things undecided.

What Are the Advantages of Establishing Paternity Through a Paternity Lawsuit?  

What Are Some of the Ways that Paternity is Established?

While there are many ways to use evidence to establish paternity, the best way is through the first listed one below, a DNA test:

Paternity Lawsuits – You Need Legal Counsel: 

Legal counsel is necessary for parents involved in paternity lawsuits. Ms. Shepherd helps Missouri clients facing paternity actions involving:

Kansas City Paternity Lawyer, Christen D. Shepherd, Serving Jackson, Clay and Platte Counties Including:

Avondale, Birmingham, Claycomo, Ectonville, Excelsior Estates, Excelsior Springs, Gladstone, Glenaire, Holt, Kearney, Lawson, Liberty, Missouri City, Mosby, North Kansas City (NKC), Oaks, Oakview, Oakwood, Oakwood Park, Pleasant Valley, Prathersville, Randolph, Smithville, Sugar Creek, Camden Point, Dearborn, East Leavenworth, Edgerton, Farley, Ferrelview, Houston Lake, Iatan, Lake Waukomis, Northmoor, Parkville, Platte City, Platte Woods, Ridgely, Riverside, Tracy, Waldron, Weatherby Lake, Weston, Blue Springs, Blue Summit, Buckner, Grain Valley, Grandview, Greenwood, Independence, Kansas City (KCMO), Lake Lotawana, Lake Tapawingo, Lee's Summit, Levasy, Lone Jack, Martin City, Oak Grove, Raytown, River Bend, Sibley, Sugar Creek and Unity Village.

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Sept 2016

From the News Desk of Christen D. Shepherd, Divorce Attorney in Kansas City North:

 

Complex High Asset Divorces:

When a marriage is ending and the couple has accumulated high value assets, the complexities of the divorce may be overwhelming without proper legal guidance. The complexity of a high asset divorce requires a diligent and thorough attorney, Christen D. Shepherd, to handling the complexities of multiple assets and the division between the divorcing spouses.

 

What is a High Asset Divorce?

If a couple has accumulated a lot of real estate, investments, businesses and the like, the marital net worth may be substantial.  Net worth is determined by the value of all property minus any debts the couple may have.  It is the net worth of the marriage that is divided between the divorcing spouses.

 

Determining the Asset Value in a Divorce:

Sometimes it is difficult to determine the value of such assets.  In certain situations, a Christen D. Shepherd, divorce attorney, must employ experts to determine the value of the asset:

Your Spouse will Hire Experts Too in a High Asset Divorce:

You should be prepared that your spouse will hire the above experts too, and there will be a battle as to which valuation is the most accurate.  Sometimes, these differences can be worked out in mediation, but other times it requires a skilled trial attorney like Ms. Shepherd to take your matter to court.  Ms. Shepherd has the necessary experience to tear apart your spouse’s expert’s opinions and present your expert’s testimony to the court. 

 

Asset Value Must Be Known Before It Can Be Divided in the Divorce:

Whether you have a multi-million dollar net worth or a moderate portfolio, you need confidence and security that you will receive your rightful share of the assets.  You can rest assured that our experienced divorce attorney, Ms. Shepherd, will identify all assets, determine the value and be ready to oppose any experts hired by the other spouse.     

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July 2016

 

From the Desk of Christen D. Shepherd, Kansas City Legal Separation and Divorce Attorney:

 

Consider Your Options – Legal Separation vs. Divorce:

For many people, when the marriage seems unbearable, their immediate action is to file for divorce.  Divorce is not always the right option.  If you are considering divorce, you may want to explore another option: legal separation.  Legal separation allows a couple to remain married yet live legally and financially apart.

 

Will a Legal Separation Protect You?

The same issues that are often addressed during divorce proceedings can be resolved as part of a legal separation agreement.  Examples of legal matters that can be agreed upon in a legal separation are:

Many other marital issues can all be incorporated into a standard legal separation agreement as well.

 

Why Should You Consider a Legal Separation Instead of a Divorce?

Our Law Firm is Committed to Helping You Through the Legal Separation or Divorce Process:

If you are unsure whether to file for legal separation, divorce or perhaps an annulment, our experienced Kansas City divorce lawyer, Christen D. Shepherd, will sit down with you and discuss all of your legal options.  Ms. Shepherd has represented clients in all types of divorce, child custody, support and other family law matters, so she is qualified to provide you with all your options and to make recommendations that best suit your family.  Ms. Shepherd takes pride in doing everything she can to assist her clients in achieving a positive resolution to whatever situation they face. To find out what Ms. Shepherd can do for you, give her a call today.

 

Your Greater Kansas City Legal Separation and Divorce Attorney in Jackson, Platte and Clay Counties:

North Kansas City (NKC), Kansas City Missouri (KCMO), Avondale, Birmingham, Claycomo, Ectonville, Excelsior Estates, Excelsior Springs, Gladstone, Glenaire, Holt, Kearney, Lawson, Missouri City, Mosby, Oaks, Oakview, Oakwood, Oakwood Park, Pleasant Valley, Prathersville, Randolph, Smithville, Sugar Creek, Parkville, Platte Woods, Ridgely, Riverside, Tracy, Waldron, Weatherby Lake, Weston, Platte City, Liberty, Lee's Summit, Camden Point, Dearborn, East Leavenworth, Edgerton, Farley, Ferrelview, Houston Lake, Iatan, Lake Waukomis, Northmoor, Blue Springs, Blue Summit, Buckner, Grain Valley, Grandview, Greenwood, Independence, Lake Lotawana, Lake Tapawingo, Levasy, Lone Jack, Martin City, Oak Grove, Raytown, River Bend, Sibley, Sugar Creek, and Unity Village.

 

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June 2016

 

From the Desk of Christen D. Shepherd, Kansas City Child Custody Lawyer:

 

If you are a parent who is currently going through a divorce or child custody battle, you are probably wondering how child custody is decided in the state of Missouri.

 

The two primary types of custody are physical custody and legal custody.  Physical custody refers to where the child will reside, with whom and for how long.  Legal custody relates to what decision-making powers each parent will have in relation to the child's general upbringing, education, medical care, religious association and more.

 

Cases involving child custody can often become quite emotionally charged.  It is not uncommon for both parents to want to maintain the existing relationship they have with their child.  Neither wants to give up his or her parental rights and neither wants to compromise.  You are far more likely to come up with a parenting plan that is agreeable to both parties if you acquire the help of a lawyer who is well-versed in Missouri’s child custody laws.

 

How Does Missouri Child Custody Get Decided?

 

The most important factor in determining child custody is what is in the child's best interests.

What you want, what your spouse wants and all other factors come second.  No consideration is given to each parent's sex, financial status or age.  Both parents are given equal and just consideration.

 

Most judges will consider the following when making a determination in child custody cases:

Christen D. Shepherd Has the Kansas City Child Custody Dispute Experience:

Ms. Shepherd has provided family law representation to individuals in the Kansas City area for many years.  She is professional in all of her dealings.  Clients of their firm are treated with compassion and respect.  If you need legal representation in a child custody dispute, we will work diligently to see that your interests, and those of your child, are well represented throughout the duration of your case. We are committed to being the solid advocate you need when fighting to protect your parental rights. To inquire about your case and how they can help, call us today.

 

Your Greater Kansas City Child Custody Attorney in Clay, Platte and Jackson Counties:

North Kansas City (NKC), Kansas City Missouri (KCMO), Platte City, Liberty, Lee's Summit, Camden Point, Dearborn, East Leavenworth, Edgerton, Farley, Ferrelview, Houston Lake, Iatan, Lake Waukomis, Northmoor, Parkville, Platte Woods, Ridgely, Riverside, Tracy, Waldron, Weatherby Lake, Weston, Blue Springs, Blue Summit, Buckner, Grain Valley, Grandview, Greenwood, Independence, Lake Lotawana, Lake Tapawingo, Levasy, Lone Jack, Martin City, Oak Grove, Raytown, River Bend, Sibley, Sugar Creek, Unity Village, Avondale, Birmingham, Claycomo, Ectonville, Excelsior Estates, Excelsior Springs, Gladstone, Glenaire, Holt, Kearney, Lawson, Missouri City, Mosby, Oaks, Oakview, Oakwood, Oakwood Park, Pleasant Valley, Prathersville, Randolph, Smithville and Sugar Creek.

 

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May 2016

 

From the Desk of Christen D. Shepherd, Kansas City Child Custody Lawyer:

 

The Guardian Ad Litem Role in Kansas City Child Custody Disputes:

Child custody disputes are sensitive to all involved and it is no surprise that the court often goes the extra mile to protect the “best interests of the child” by appointing a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL).  A GAL is an attorney who represents the child and whose responsibility it is to make sure what is “best for the child” occurs in a child custody dispute. The GAL is not, however, required to keep the conversations with the child confidential or to follow the child’s wishes.

 

When is a GAL Appointed in a Kansas City Child Custody Dispute?

The court will appoint a GAL when either parent requests it or if it appears that it would benefit the overall outcome of the child custody dispute.

In child custody disputes where one parent claims the other parent is neglecting or abusing the child, a GAL must be appointed according to Missouri law. 

 

What Does a GAL Do in a Kansas City Child Custody Dispute?

Missouri law lists three main responsibilities of a GAL, which include:

A GAL can represent a child throughout the duration of the Kansas City child custody case.  When the parents have come to an agreement in writing about the child custody issues, or the judge has made final decisions, the GAL's duties are officially complete.

 

We Are Your Child Custody Lawyers in Kansas City:

If you need assistance with a child custody case of any kind, don't hesitate to get in touch with our firm. We are compassionate advocates of the individuals we represent and have over 17 years of legal experience.

 

Your Child Custody Attorneys in Jackson, Clay and Platte Counties Including:

Camden Point, Dearborn, East Leavenworth, Edgerton, Farley, Ferrelview, Houston Lake, Iatan, Lake Waukomis, Northmoor, Parkville, Platte City, Platte Woods, Ridgely, Riverside, Tracy, Waldron, Weatherby Lake, Weston, Blue Springs, Blue Summit, Buckner, Grain Valley, Grandview, Greenwood, Independence, Kansas City (KCMO), Lake Lotawana, Lake Tapawingo, Lee's Summit, Levasy, Lone Jack, Martin City, Oak Grove, Raytown, River Bend, Sibley, Sugar Creek, Unity Village, Avondale, Birmingham, Claycomo, Ectonville, Excelsior Estates, Excelsior Springs, Gladstone, Glenaire, Holt, Kearney, Lawson, Liberty, Missouri City, Mosby, North Kansas City (NKC), Oaks, Oakview, Oakwood, Oakwood Park, Pleasant Valley, Prathersville, Randolph, Smithville and Sugar Creek.

 

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April 2016

From the Desk of Christen D. Shepherd, Kansas City Divorce Lawyer:

What is Mediation?

The Missouri Supreme Court describes mediation as "a process in which a neutral third party facilitates communications between the parties to promote settlement."  The mediator approaches the family law issues using a structured step-by-step approach to problem solving.  Mediation can provide a neutral and protected environment to help the divorcing spouses or parents to explore and understand their interests, needs, risks as well as options.  The divorcing spouses or parents then can work out an agreement that serves the needs of both people in the conflict.

What Are the Benefits of Mediation?

There are several benefits to Mediation, some of which are:

·         Really Understanding the Other Spouse or Parent:  In hearing and being heard in mediation, the spouses or parents can gain the understanding of the other’s point of view.  If they are ready to listen, they can understand what is motivating various positions and come up with creative solutions instead of more fighting.

·         The Divorcing Spouses or Parents Decide:  Instead of having a Judge dictate a one-solution-fits-all approach, the spouses or parents can tailor a solution that fits their situation. 

·         Speed: In resolving or narrowing disputes through mediation, the spouses or parents can avoid the delay that motions, hearings and trial calendars cause.

·         Economical:  In resolving or narrowing areas of disputes through mediation, the spouses or parents save huge amounts of time, energy, and expense associated with lengthy conflict and litigation.

·         Divorcing Spouses or Parents More Often Follow Mediated Solutions:  In life, people are more likely to follow solutions that they have had a hand in establishing as opposed to outcomes that are dictated.  The same is true for mediated outcomes. 

·         Preserve Some Portion of the Family:  While one spouse or parent may “win” in litigation, this usually comes at a huge price.  The children are traumatized by the parents fighting, and the parties are so caught up in the fight that they have a difficult time parenting.  Mediation can aid in working toward more healthy family dynamics due to an agreed solution.  

How Long Does Mediation Usually Take?  The divorcing spouses should plan on spending at least 2 hours in mediation.  Some mediations, with hotly contested child custody issues, can take much longer to sort out.

How Much Does Mediation Cost?  Each spouse usually pays for one-half of the mediation.  In court ordered mediation in Jackson County Missouri with a court appointed mediator, the mediation cost can be on a sliding scale based on individual gross income.  In Clay County Missouri, if the spouses or parents complete the C.O.P.E. program, they will receive a voucher for 2 hours of free mediation.  In Platte County Missouri, parents are offered 4 hours of free mediation for child-related issues.   

Who Attends the Mediation?  Usually just the divorcing spouses or parents attend the mediation with the Mediator.  Attorneys can attend with their clients if it is agreed by both sides and sometimes this aids in a better mediated outcome. 

Who Serves as the Mediator?  Sometimes Mediators come from court approved lists, and other times Mediators can be hired privately.  Your Kansas City divorce attorney, Christen D. Shepherd, will help you select the best Mediator for your situation.

Your Family Law Attorney in Jackson, Clay and Platte Counties Including:

Blue Springs, Blue Summit, Buckner, Grain Valley, Grandview, Greenwood, Independence, Kansas City (KCMO), Lake Lotawana, Lake Tapawingo, Lee's Summit, Levasy, Lone Jack, Martin City, Oak Grove, Raytown, River Bend, Sibley, Sugar Creek, Unity Village, Avondale, Birmingham, Claycomo, Ectonville, Excelsior Estates, Excelsior Springs, Gladstone, Glenaire, Holt, Kearney, Lawson, Liberty, Missouri City, Mosby, North Kansas City (NKC), Oaks, Oakview, Oakwood, Oakwood Park, Pleasant Valley, Prathersville, Randolph, Smithville, Sugar Creek, Camden Point, Dearborn, East Leavenworth, Edgerton, Farley, Ferrelview, Houston Lake, Iatan, Lake Waukomis, Northmoor, Parkville, Platte City, Platte Woods, Ridgely, Riverside, Tracy, Waldron, Weatherby Lake and Weston.

 

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From the Desk of Christen D. Shepherd, Divorce Lawyer in Kansas City Missouri (KCMO):

“Do It Yourself” Divorce:

·         $99 Divorce Kits:  You may be considering buying a $99 Divorce Kit from an online company.  If you do, buyer beware!  Those Divorce Kit forms usually are not tailored to comply with Missouri divorce laws or the local Kansas City court rules.  You receive no legal guidance on the Divorce Kit forms and you receive no advice on how to proceed in court.  So unless you somehow know Missouri divorce law as it pertains to child custody, parenting plans, division of assets and debts, child and spousal support and more, how are you supposed to know what is fair?  When you consult an experienced attorney, you will receive the insight you need to determine what your judge will likely decide if you were to go to trial.  You can then base your settlement decisions on what is fair, instead of a guess based on a Divorce Kit.    

·         Divorce Using Supreme Court Forms:  You can try to fill out the Supreme Court forms on your own, but who is going to give you legal advice about Missouri divorce law and the local Kansas City court rules?  The Supreme Court can’t give you legal advice.  There are certain seemingly small facts that could prohibit you from even using the pro se (where you represent yourself) forms or Supreme Court's provided judgment in your case and you won't know what those are unless you talk to an attorney.  You also risk getting to the last day of court and having the judge tell you to start over or do something different.  Tackling going to trial on your own, without a lawyer is overwhelming at best.

In a “Do It Yourself” Divorce, You Will Never Know:  The moral of the story is, if you have a “Do It Yourself” divorce, you will never know what you could have received for you and your children.  Were you entitled to half of the marital net worth or were the factors where you could have received more than half?  Were you entitled to spousal support and what factors would the judge have used in deciding how much you would get?  What is a typical parenting plan that a judge would approve?  Did you fill out the child support forms correctly so that you got the right amount of child support?  These are questions that you will never have answered if you have a “Do It Yourself” divorce.

For one fair price, we take care of making sure you get what is fair and we handle all the details so you don’t have to.  Call Christen D. Shepherd today, for experienced Divorce help in the greater Kansas City area. 

Christen D. Shepherd Law Office in Kansas City, Missouri (KCMO) represents individuals and families in: 

Kansas City Missouri (KCMO), Blue Springs, Grandview, Independence, Lee’s Summit, Raytown, Parkville, Platte City, Riverside, Smithville, Claycomo, Gladstone, Kearney, Liberty, Excelsior Springs, Richmond, North Kansas City (NKC), Weston, Platte City, Lexington, Belton, Harrisonville, Peculiar, Raymore, Leawood, Lenexa, Merriam, Olathe, Overland Park, Prairie Village, Kansas City Kansas (KC, KS), Bonner Springs, Edwardsville, Lake Quivira, DeSoto, Gardner and Leavenworth.

03-08-16

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From the Desk of Christen D. Shepherd, Kansas City Divorce Lawyer:

What is an Uncontested Divorce in Kansas City?

An Uncontested Divorce is where both spouses agree on everything related to the divorce.  The spouses must agree on the following:

·         That they should be divorced

·         Division of property

·         Division of debt

·         Spousal support (maintenance)

·         Child custody

·         Child support

·         Parenting plans

·         Division of attorneys’ fees

·         That both spouses will sign all necessary documents for the divorce

What are the advantages of a Kansas City Uncontested Divorce?

Divorcing couples often choose Uncontested Divorce because it promotes privacy, it reduces the cost, and most importantly, it reduces the stress on the family.

Privacy:  When couples fight in divorce court by filing heated motions with the court, this paperwork becomes a public record.  That means any friend, acquaintance, employer or nosy person can find out about your disagreements with your spouse.  If you negotiate matters privately between you and your spouse, these private discussions can stay private (except the court requires some online disclosures).

Reduced Cost:  When couples choose Uncontested Divorce, they spend less money on a Guardian ad Litem (GAL), mediations, psychologists, business valuations, lawyers and other professionals.  Less fighting means less money spent on the divorce.  The family then benefits because the money that would have been spent on fighting can be used for the spouses and children moving forward positively with their lives.    

Reduced Family Stress:  In an Uncontested Divorce, children don’t overhear fighting about finances, debts and who gets the child on what night.  The couple can calmly discuss and negotiate on all the issues in the divorce and come to a solution, instead of a fight.  This can help the spouses to be more productive at work, to be better parents, as well as reduce the stress on the children involved.   

When is an Uncontested Divorce not a good idea?

Uncontested divorces are not right for everyone.  Some circumstances that are listed below make an Uncontested Divorce almost impossible:

·         When a spouse claims there is domestic violence

·         When one spouse feels unable to negotiate on his or her own without an attorney involved

·         When there are difficult issues that may require a lawyer to be involved such in the case of disability, inability to earn a living, reduced mental capacity, etc.

·         When one spouse suspects the other will not be honest

All of these can be reasons to file formal divorce proceedings.  You should feel free to give me a call to discuss the best Kansas City divorce option for you and your family.





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