Frequently Asked Questions
Answers from Kansas City Divorce & Family Law Attorneys
Our dedicated lawyers understand that family law matters may be complex. We have listened to our previous satisfied clients' questions. Below are answers to some of the questions the family law attorneys at Davis | Pingel encounter most frequently as they advise and represent clients throughout the greater Kansas City area.
What if my spouse freezes me out of the bank account if I file for divorce?
The judge in your case can issue temporary orders as soon as the petition is filed. These orders can require the parties to maintain the status quo regarding property and prohibit one party from closing out a bank account or making any major purchases or sales. The court can also issue temporary orders regarding child custody, child support, temporary maintenance, the use of a vehicle, the temporary possession of the family home, and other matters.
If the court does not issue these orders as a matter of course or does not include a particular order that you need, you can request the judge to issue one. Keep in mind that the other spouse may challenge the orders or request a modification if he or she believes they are unfair.
Can I get an annulment instead of a divorce?
Divorce is the process to dissolve a legal marriage. Annulment, on the hand, is the process used to dissolve a marriage which was never legal to begin with. An annulment is a judicial declaration that the marriage was invalid and basically never existed. Grounds for annulment include proving that:
- The marriage was entered into based on fraud or under duress
- The parties couldn’t marry because they were too closely related
- One of the spouses was already legally married
- One of the spouses was underage
- One of the spouses was impotent or mentally incompetent
In some cases, a marriage is void, while in other cases it is voidable, meaning the parties can continue to live as if married if neither party moves to annul the union.
In November 2014, a St. Louis circuit court judge ruled that the state’s ban on homosexual or same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Although this ruling may be appealed and the legislature may consider additional legislation banning same-sex marriage, marriage licenses to same-sex couples are currently being issued in Jackson County and St. Louis County. If same-sex marriages were declared to be invalid, they could be annulled as well.
What is a QDRO? Do I need one? How do I get one?
QDRO stands for Qualified Domestic Relations Order, and you may need one if the property settlement in your divorce includes the division of a pension or retirement plan. Certain qualified employee benefit plans, such as 401(k) plans, are governed by federal rules which prohibit the plan administrator from assigning any benefits or payments to persons other than the payee listed on the plan. A QDRO is a court order directing the plan administrator to recognize the former spouse as an alternate payee entitled to receive a share of benefits under the plan. If a QDRO is required in your case, our attorneys can prepare the order and submit it to the court on your behalf.
Does the husband always have to pay alimony in a divorce?
No. Alimony, known as maintenance in Missouri, is not awarded automatically in a divorce, and either the ex-husband or the ex-wife can be awarded maintenance from the other former spouse. A maintenance award is only made if one party requests it and convinces the court that he or she lacks sufficient property to provide for his or her needs and is unable to support him or herself or cannot work outside of the home because he or she is the custodial parent and needs to stay home with the kids. How much maintenance is awarded and for how long is based on a number of statutory factors, including the length of the marriage, the standard of living established during the marriage, and the conduct of the parties during the marriage.
Can I take the kids and move out of state if I have primary custody?
Not without permission from the other parent or the court. Any move out of state or far enough away that it would require a modification of the custody and visitation arrangement (actually any move at all of the principal residence for more than 90 days) cannot be made without first notifying the other parent and working out a revised custody and visitation schedule. If that parent objects to the move, you may need to go to court to prove that the relocation is in the child’s best interests. This is a legal proceeding, and both parents should be represented by their attorneys throughout the process.