Non-Contested - (Kitchen Table)
A non-contested or “kitchen table” case requires two people who both wish to reach an agreement on all issues. Often these cases involve a higher level of trust between the parties. Our role in a non-contested case includes advising on the overall fairness of an agreement, drafting the necessary settlement documents and submitting the agreement to the court.
In general, a non-contested divorce (or other family law matter) will start with a meeting. At this meeting we will learn about your situation and help you better understand the process options – and which option may be right for you. We will advise what you can do to prepare for your case. We will review our representation agreement and answer any questions you may have regarding our fees. If after meeting with us, you wish to proceed, we will ask that you gather the documentation needed to get started. Once you have gathered the initial documents, we will have a second short meeting to confirm your intended agreement.
Preparing your Agreement
After we receive all the necessary documentation from you, and once we have confirmed the terms of your proposed settlement, we will begin drafting the following documents:
- Petition: This document, along with your Statement of Income & Expenses and Statement of Property, will be filed with the Court to begin the process. Please note, in a non-contested process, these documents will not be filed with the court until after you and your spouse (or opposing party) have signed a full settlement agreement.
- Statement of Income & Expenses and Statement of Property: Missouri law requires that an individual seeking a dissolution or paternity judgment must file with the Court a Statement of Income & Expense and a Statement of Property. These documents set forth your income and expenses and detail your property.
- Settlement Agreement: This document will serve to fully disclose and distribute all assets and debts of you and your spouse (or opposing party). In addition, the Settlement Agreement may contain various other provisions relating to real estate, taxes, maintenance, the division of household goods and other agreements you and your spouse may wish to enter into.
- Parenting Plan: This document serves as an agreement between you and your spouse and will also be a court order as to the arrangements for the child or children. In most situations, the Parenting Plan will include provisions relating to child care and custody, holiday schedules, decision making, cost allocation, as well as other provisions you and your spouse may wish to include to best accommodate your individual situation.
- Waiver of Service of Process & Entry of Appearance: When signed by your spouse (or opposing party), this document will allow that person to avoid being served with court documents and will allow your judgment to be entered by the Court – often without the need for the other side to personally appear in court. Please note, in rare situations, some judges may require the parties attend a hearing in court prior to the entry of the judgment.
- Judgment: This document will describe key portions of your Settlement Agreement and Parenting Plan, and after signed by you, the other party, the attorney(s) and the judge, will result in the entry of your judgment.
- Affidavit for Judgment: This document will be signed by you and will constitute your sworn statement asking the court to enter your judgment. In most (but not all) situations, this affidavit will make it unnecessary for you to attend any court hearings.
- Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) (if needed): Under federal law, certain types of retirement accounts may only be divided or transferred through the use of a QDRO. Depending on the type of retirement account to be divided (if any), a QDRO may or may not be necessary in your particular situation.
Document Review & Signatures
After the settlement documents are drafted, we will provide rough drafts to you for your review. If necessary, we will incorporate any edits you may require.
After the settlement documents are acceptable to you, we will ask that you provide the documents to your spouse (or opposing party) for his or her review. He or she may then consult with an attorney in reviewing the documents. If necessary, additional edits may be incorporated. During this stage, your spouse (or opposing party) will also be provided with your signed Petition, Statement of Property and Statement of Income and Expenses.
After you and your spouse (or opposing party) are in full agreement as to the terms of the settlement, generally we will schedule a meeting with you in order to obtain your signatures on all remaining documents. You will then provide the original documents to your spouse (opposing party) so that he or she may sign the documents and have his or her signature independently notarized. After the documents are fully executed, we will file the documents with the court.
Waiting Period, Parent Education Class and Closing Items
Under Missouri Law, 30 days must pass from the date of filing of the Petition and Waiver, until the date a judge enters your judgment. Upon the expiration of the 30-day waiting period (or as soon thereafter as possible), we will ask that the judge enter your judgment. Parents seeking a divorce must attend a parent education class prior to the entry of the judgment. The class is designed to help parents navigate parenting issues during and after a divorce.
After the entry of your judgment, you will receive a closing letter from us which will detail any final items that should be addressed. This letter may include further information regarding the exchange of documents necessary to transfer title to automobiles, instruction as to the division of assets, as well as some general legal advice that should help wrap up any loose ends.
How long will my non-contested case take?
A non-contested case is distinct from a contested case in several ways. For instance, in a non-contested case, the parties have the flexibility to proceed at their own pace, without the rigid time constraints imposed by the Court. The length of a non-contested case can be influenced by a variety of factors. First, you, as the client dictate when the process will begin and how quickly the process will move forward. Next, state law places certain restrictions on the speed in which the process may proceed – specifically, a married couple must wait 30 days from the date in which they ask the Court for a dissolution until the date in which their dissolution is entered by the Court. Please keep in mind, the circumstances of each case vary greatly and as a result, the total length of the process is likely to vary from case to case.
Family law matters bring about change. We have established a network of trusted professionals who may be helpful as you move forward. This may involve any of the following:
- Attorneys (estate, business, personal injury, employment)
- Home Repair Work
- Investment Advisers
- Occupational Therapists
- Vocational Experts
- Counselors (children’s, adult, marital, LGBTQ)
- Insurance (home, health, auto, disability, life)
If you require the assistance of a profession not listed here, please give us a call to see if we can help.
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This outline is intended only as a general guide. In some cases, events may occur which will result in a different path to a resolution. For instance, you and your spouse may encounter difficulty in reaching an agreement or your agreement may evolve during the course of the process. In other cases, we may be required to draft additional legal documents in order to divide certain retirement assets. In some instances, one party (or both parties) may choose to proceed in a more contested manner. You should be aware that such events will likely result in added legal expense and a lengthier process. We will make every effort to keep you fully informed throughout the process and welcome any questions you may have.
Get In Touch.
If you are interested in discussing your options, give us a call.