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  • Haefner Divorce Lawyers Saint Louis

    Important Legal Terms

    TermDefinition
    Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)A way to resolve conflict outside of traditional adversarial court proceedings.  An example is mediation or collaborative law
    AffidavitA sworn statement of a person; needs to be signed in front of a notary
    AlimonyOld term used for spousal support (currently use the term "maintenance")
    AnnulmentThe Court essentially says that the marriage never legally existed (note: to get an annulment through the Catholic church is different than a legal annulment)
    Best interestWhat the Judge uses to determine almost all things relating to the minor children
    Business valuationHow the Court will value a business, or a business interest (if the spouse only owns a percentage)
    Case management conferenceHearings the Court uses to move the case along and offer advice and guidance on settlement if necessary
    Child Order of Protection (CPO)A Protection Order (also referred to as a “Restraining Order”) for children; a Guardian Ad Litem is appointed, and custody and support can be Ordered
    Child support
    Children's DivisionGovernment Agency that investigates child abuse and neglect, and can take custody of children if abuse or neglect found
    CohabitationLiving with someone; legally, it usually means in a marriage-like relationship
    College education expensesIncludes tuition, room, and board.  Usually maxes out at the rates of the University of Missouri (Mizzou); these are separate from continuing child support
    ContemptThe Court says that you are not following its Orders. Held in Contempt after a "Show Cause Hearing"
    ContinuanceWhen a hearing or trial has been moved to a later date
    DebtMonies owed; there are marital and non-marital debts
    DefaultThe Court decided that the other person chose not to participate in the proceeding, and moves forward without them
    DivorceLegally it means that you are no longer married; sometimes referred to as "dissolution"
    Domestic violenceAbuse or harassment of someone in the household
    Domestic Relations Services (DRS)St. Louis County Court’s go-to in high conflict cases.  They provide a number of services, including supervised visits and supervised exchanges of the minor children,
    Equitable distributionDoesn't mean that it has to be equal, but a fair distribution of assets and debts
    Ex ParteCommunication with the Court without the other side present and able to submit their own evidence/facts
    ExhibitWhat is used during evidentiary hearings that support your case or disproves the other side's case; must be offered and accepted by the Court to be considered 
    Family Support Payment Center This is where you need to may your child support payments if not ordered to directly pay your ex:
    MO Family Support Payment Center (MO FSPC)
    P. O. Box 109006
    Jefferson City, MO 65110-9006
    https://mo.smartchildsupport.com/contact.aspx
    Guardian Ad Litem (GAL)An attorney (or other advocate) appointed by the Court to represent the best interest of the minor child(ren)
    HarassmentConduct that includes unwanted communication that may be threatening, intimidating, frightening, or causes emotional distress to another person
    Irreconcilable differencesThat the parties, through no fault of either party, have issues that cannot be worked out to save the marriage
    Joint custodyTwo types:  Joint Legal custody is when the parents share rights to make major decisions, and requires an agreement; Joint Physical (or Residential) custody is when the parties each have significant, though not required to be equal, time with the minor child
    MaintenanceTerm used for spousal support; can be non-modifiable, and have set amount and term, or modifiable, which can be changed or terminated by the Court
    Marital propertyProperty that is owned by the parties together, and will need to be divided in a divorce
    MediationOften required, it means that the parties (and sometimes their attorneys) sit down with a mediator and attempt to work out their differences outside of Court
    Non-marital propertyProperty that is not subject to division by the Court in a dissolution proceeding; usually items owned before the marriage or inherited before or during the marriage (and not co-mingled in joint accounts).
    PaternityWhen a person establishes rights and obligations for a child; must be done if child is born outside of marriage
    Pendente Lite (PDL)Temporary Orders that are in place during the litigation; replaced upon the final order being entered
    PensionA form of retirement that can be divided by the Court in most situations
    Personal InjuryPersonal injury attorneys help with injuries or deaths caused by accidents or negligence
    Pre-trial conferenceA hearing prior to the trial in an attempt to resolve issues and set future court dates and deadlines
    Process ServerSomeone who is authorized by the State to serve a party with legal documents
    Protection Order (PO)An Order that is put in place against a person prohibiting them from contacting or harassing a person
    Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)Order that divides retirement plans that are subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA); avoids taxes on division of retirement so long as the retirement money received is placed directly in a retirement account.
    QuitclaimSigning over rights to a property
    Settlement ConferenceHearings the Court uses to move the case along and offer advice and guidance on settlement if necessary
    Sole CustodyTwo types: Sole legal custody is when a parent, after attempting to reach an agreement with the other parent, can make the major decision for themselves; sole residential/physical custody means that you have the child the vast majority of the time
    Step Parent AdoptionWhen the spouse of a parent adopts their child; places the child in the step-parent’s bloodline
    TrialWhen the parties and attorneys go to Court, provide evidence, exhibits, witness testimony, etc. before the Judge, who then makes the decision on property, debts, and all issues involving the child(ren)
    Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)The UCCJEA is a federal law that determines what state has the "exclusive [and] continuing jurisdiction" for child custody litigation in the courts of the child's "home state," which is defined as the state where the child has lived with a parent for six consecutive months prior to the commencement of the proceeding (or since birth for children younger than six months).
    VisitationSometimes referred to as "parenting time", it is the time that a person has with their minor child(ren)

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