An experienced trial lawyer should be retained when family matters, such as child support or custody, are contested. A trial attorney can effectively represent your interests and help to ensure a favorable outcome.
Further, in order to allow adequate time to prepare for trial, you should hire the attorney as soon as possible. Having a family court lawyer, as opposed to another type of litigation attorney, is essential to the success of your family matters case.
Trial Lawyer: Family Matters
The purpose of taking cases involving family matters to court is to tell the client’s story. Part of that process is to provide the required documentation and exhibits that only help to achieve a successful outcome. For that reason, you need a trial lawyer who has knowledge and experience to assist you.
Every court has its own set of rules, procedures, and judges assigned to handle family matters. A lawyer who is familiar with the judges and can navigate the complexities of the laws of the local courts can present a better case for their clients.
Essentially, a trial lawyer is responsible for making sure the client complies with the rules of disclosure – and that the opposing party has done so, also. In addition, there are deadlines for filings, exhibits, affidavits, reports and any number of other important documents that must be met timely.
Family Matters: Types of Cases
There can be numerous reasons for taking a case involving family matters to court. A good trial lawyer who is well versed in family law can fight to protect your interests in cases of:
- Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce) – This is without question one of the most common types of cases that go to trial. A divorce case is rarely without difficulty. In particular, when minor children are involved, it can be one of the most extremely stressful family matters to handle.
- Legal Separation – Less common than a traditional divorce, a legal separation is sometimes used to allow time for couples to prepare for the end of the marriage. Dividing property, finances, and debts, for example, are issues that can be resolved during a legal separation. In Missouri law, a legal separation is a legally binding contract with orders and legal protections in place. Although it is similar to a divorce pleading, the marriage is not dissolved – the couple is still technically married and cannot remarry unless they get divorced.
- Paternity – Non-married couples who have children together can file a paternity action to obtain a formal declaration of paternity. This action also grants an enforceable schedule of visitation for non-custodial parents who wish to remain active in their children’s lives.
- Child Custody – Legal custody means a parent has the right to receive information and make decisions concerning their child. Physical custody gives a parent the right to have parenting time with their child. Sometimes only one parent will be granted sole legal custody and joint physical custody. The parent who does not have joint legal custody can’t provide input on medical and educational decisions affecting their child. A trial lawyer can protect the non-custodial parent’s rights to both types of custody and ensure an enforceable parenting schedule that protects their rights to contact with their children and have input as to how they are cared for.
- Child Support – Court ordered support of dependent children is determined by such factors as health insurances costs, daycare, tax deductions and more. Child support can be entered administratively in an administrative paternity action.
- Modifications – Over time circumstances can change, requiring a modification, or change, to prior agreements in family matters concerning child custody, support, etc. When it becomes necessary to make those changes, having a trial lawyer on your side is just as critical as having one during the original proceeding.
- Criminal Non-Support – Unfortunately, in some cases, falling behind on court-ordered child support can result in a charge for criminal non-support. These charges can be misdemeanors or felonies depending on how much is owed and the payment history. An experienced trial lawyer can work to either get the case dismissed or severely mitigate the negative impacts this type of charge can have.
There are many complex legal issues attached to family matters that only a trial lawyer can handle. You need someone to handle the paperwork, keep track of deadlines and court appointments and guide you through the process.
Craig Divine is an experienced, established family law attorney in Kansas City.
104 W 9th St., Suite 404
Kansas City, MO 64105