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  • Contested Divorce Attorney in St. Louis

    Affordable contested divorce services in St. Louis, Missouri

    While I generally recommend the Uncontested Divorce option to amenable parties, it is not the right option for everyone. At Haefner Law Office, our St. Louis divorce lawyers know better than most that sometimes you need knowledgeable, aggressive representation to protect you and your family.

    Aspects under contention in a contested divorce

    An uncontested divorce means there is at least one matter involved in the divorce that can not be agreed upon. In some cases, there are no matters that not contested. In these cases, you have two options: you can either hire an attorney for divorce mediation services or you can hire an attorney to represent you.

    From there, they will attempt to negotiate with your ex-spouse’s attorney. They will then go back and forth with offers and counter offers. If an agreement cannot be reached, the case will be brought to court and decided upon by a judge.

    The most commonly disputed terms are when filing for a contested divorce:

    • Assets: There is a dispute as to what assets you have or how they will be divided.
      • If there is a home, we cannot agree if we are going to sell it, or in the alternative, who is going to keep it, how long they have to refinance it, or what they are paying the departing spouse as their end of the equity.
      • If there are retirement accounts, we cannot agree how we are going to divide them, or if there is a division, who is going to pay for the Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) to get the money out of the retirement without it being a taxable event
    • Debts: We cannot decide who is paying what bill or what needs to be refinanced
      • I suggest you each run a free credit report and see what is out there.  You may be surprised.
    • Child Custody: We cannot agree on a parenting schedule, what type of custody, whose address we are going to use for mailing and educational purposes, or, possibly, how we are going to handle transportation of the children (as in, where exchanges will take place).
    • Child Support: We have not come to an agreement regarding who will be paying child support or the amount that will be paid (or for how long it will be paid), or how we are going to divide expenses for the children, including insurance, daycare, out-of-pocket costs and activities.
    • Attorney Fees: You really should get an attorney to draft the documents, even if it is all agreed upon. Haefner’s attorneys do not represent both parties

    Experts in divorce negotiations and divorce trials

    But if what is listed above is not 100% agreed upon, then you have a contested matter.  That does not necessarily mean that you will have to have a trial, but it does mean that your attorney needs to proceed as though that is a possible outcome and plan accordingly.  

    Attorneys draft things with an end in mind. 

    When I am dealing with an uncontested divorce case, I draft documents in the least confrontational way possible as my only goal is to get this across the finish line with as little fuss as possible. 

    When I draft contested things, the rule is that you cannot get what you do not ask for, so we ask for everything that may be put before the Court. 

    I am always mindful that we will hopefully settle the case, but am ready to proceed to trial if necessary.  You also need to get educated on the process, and I strongly recommend you read my book, Exit Strategy (free copies are mailed out or can be downloaded at FlatRateDivorces.com).

    Whether or not you have a contested or uncontested divorce, it is going to be stressful and emotions are going to run high. Do not make impulsive decisions, settle for terms you will regret, or fight for things that really don’t matter. 

    Related: The difference between uncontested, contested, and mediated divorces

    Your attorney is a good guide on some of these things, but a therapist is usually better equipped to handle the emotional fallout. 

    Property Division in Contested Divorces

    Property division focuses on the assets shared between the two parties. This is about who gets what, who pays what, and what happens to all the tangible things in your life, including maintenance (formerly known as alimony), child support (if applicable), debts, and retirement accounts.

    Everything you own may be at stake. Divorce law is constantly changing, and an expert will ensure that you have sure you have every opportunity to a fair and equitable result.

    You don’t want an Order that you cannot afford to maintain. If that happens, you’ll be back in court on a Contempt Motion, which can lead to more attorney fees, court appearances, and possible jail time.

    Child Custody in Contested Divorces

    In any case, the best interests of your children should always be the top priority. Your attorney should join you as an advocate for the needs of your children during and beyond the divorce process. Child custody settlements can affect where and how your children grow up and, in turn, how they come to live their own lives.

    Haefner Law Office knows how to protect your children in court. Family law has remained our utmost priority in all proceedings since day one. While a settlement is always preferred, we advise strongly against agreeing to parenting plans that you don’t want.

    To avoid an unhappy party filing a Motion to Modify in the later years, we will work with you to pursue the best and most tangible parenting plan for your family, even if it may mean going to trial. Whether settlement or trial, we’ll fight for you each step of the way.

    How Much Does a Contested Divorce Cost in St. Louis?

    Divorce is one of the most stressful and difficult experiences to overcome. Bills shouldn’t be the added stress to a frustrating situation. Haefner Law Office’s affordable flat rate divorce fee schedule offers affordable, flexible payment options that place control in the hands of our clients.

    With a flat-rate contested divorce, families can order only the services they want, like filing legal paperwork or litigation. Clients don’t pay for any services they don’t need or use, saving money and time overall.

    Resource: How Much Does a Divorce Cost?

    How does a contested divorce work in St. Louis, Missouri?

    Contested divorces start like any other divorce: you and/or your spouse file a petition (the petitioner) for divorce. Before it is filed, the petitioner must be signed under oath and notarized. In other words, you must swear that anything stated within the petition is the truth and accurate.

    An overview of the remaining contested divorce process in the State of Missouri can be summarized as:

    • The petitioner fills out Missouri’s Certificate of the Dissolution of Marriage From (CAFC001)
    • The form must then be signed before a notary public
    • The form must then be filed in the county in which either you or your spouse currently lives
    • There may be additional forms that are required to be filed as well based on the county in which you reside we recommend contacting a St. Louis divorce attorney for more information
    • The petitioner then decides how he or she would like their spouse (the respondent) to be notified (options can be seen here)
    • The respondent then has 30 days to submit a written response
    • If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement on certain terms we suggest speaking with a divorce attorney to discuss your options

    In most cases, courts will recommend mediation. There are a wide range of options available when it comes to mediated divorces. We, here at Haefner Law Office, offer divorce mediation services in St. Louis.

    If mediation does not resolve any or all of your disputes, you may need to hire a divorce attorney to represent you in court.

    Why Choose Haefner Law Office as Your Contested Divorce Lawyer?

    Mark Haefner is a divorce attorney serving St. Louis, Missouri, including St. Louis County, Jefferson County, and St. Charles County. With our Haefner Law Office team, Mark has represented hundreds of families undergoing contested divorce matters. We know that no two cases are exactly alike, so we pursue litigation that reflects the unique needs and interests.

    Any family resolving a contested divorce must have confidence in the firm and attorney of their choice. Your attorney should always consider your best interests and never their pocketbooks. At Haefner

    In addition to advice and guidance, we offer a collection of resources to help guide you through the contested divorce process in Missouri, like our e-book and critical documentation.

    Contact Haefner Law Office at (314) 200-6101 for more information on contested divorces in St. Louis and St. Charles, Missouri. We’ll determine if a contested divorce is right for you and your family with a free consultation.

    Thank you for your consideration during this difficult time, and we hope to hear from you soon.

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