250 East Wood Street Troy, Missouri 63379 Phone: 636.462.2170 Fax: 636.528.2904

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How to best work with your lawyer

Posted on by Katie Synor

First ask about the cost of legal representation. If your situation will require more work beyond the first consultation, remember to ask for the lawyer’s fees in writing. You do not have to hire the lawyer after the initial consultation. Feel free to find a lawyer with whom you are comfortable. Attorneys frequently have Attorney-Client Fee Agreements.

Second be prepared for your appointment. When you call the lawyer for an appointment, ask what papers you should bring to the first consultation. Be ready to give the lawyer all the background information relating to the situation. You may also wish to prepare questions to ask the lawyer.

Third be efficient. If you do hire a lawyer, don’t make unnecessary phone calls to the lawyer. Most lawyers charge for the time spent on phone calls with clients. Keep a written list of all items you want to check with your lawyer and cover them in one phone call or ask them at your next scheduled appointment.

Fourth, know what you sign. Before you sign a document, ask your lawyer to fully explain it.

Keep complete records. File any material you received from your lawyer in one place. Your file is often the best way to answer your questions about the case.  Don’t hesitate to ask for copies of all letters and documents involving your case. You should keep the fee agreement in your file.

Attorneys’ fees are based on several factors such as the complexity of the matter and the amount of time spent serving the client. Most often you will see fixed fee and hourly fee arrangements.

Lawyers will request a retainer or deposit as a down payment in advance of representing you. It may be charged by an attorney to handle a particular case and will be applied as a credit on subsequent billings.

A fixed fee is a set amount charged for services such as drafting a simple will or handling an uncomplicated real estate transaction.

Most attorneys have established hourly or unit rates for their services. There are no uniform, profession-wide figures and rates may vary widely depending on factors such as the attorney’s experience and reputation. In addition to the hourly or unit rate, the client will be charged for any direct, out-of-pocket expenses the attorney incurs such as faxes, copies, and the like.

A fee can be set by the court for such legal services as handling an estate. When reviewing the attorney’s application for fees, the judge will consider the amount of work required its complexity, the skill required and the lawyer’s usual rates.

The type of fee charged is usually controlled by the type of case. For example, in some divorce cases where both parties agree on matters of settlement, the attorney may be able to set a fixed fee. But when the parties do not agree, the attorney may only be able to indicate what the minimum will be, charging for additional time expended beyond the original estimate.

You may reduce the cost of your legal services by trying the following:

-When meeting with an attorney regarding a problem, bring along all documents that might be pertinent. Also, prepare a written statement of the problem and the solution you desire.
-Present all the information you have, even though some of it may seem unfavorable to your case.
-Instead of making frequent phone calls or visits, ask the attorney to inform you of developments as they arise.
-Finally, in evaluating the cost, remember that much of an attorney’s professional services are rendered when the client is not present.

Collaborative No Court Divorce

Posted on by Katie Synor

Collaborative No Court Divorce is low confrontation, high negotiation divorce process that affords clients the opportunity to resolve issues through meditation and attorney consultation by sharing information, striving toward common goals, and ultimately completing divorce with less pain, controversy and cost.

Collaborative No Court Divorce requires commitment. A couple must find the common ground, problem solve and compromise without litigating and battling their way into court. Disputed areas such as custody, asset division and debts are resolved without litigation; and therefore, not only do the parties save money, they also save the emotional toll of litigation.

The parties work with a neutral mediator as well as their attorney’s – all of whom must be committed to this process – toward their shared goal of a mutually fair divorce.  A collaborative no court divorce is ideal for parties with children because the process ultimately makes the children the primary focus.

If you would like to learn more about collaborative divorce, please call Lincoln County, Missouri divorce attorney Kathryn J. Synor.

Sandwiched in the Middle

Posted on by Katie Synor

The “Sandwich Generation” – a term given to adults who are raising children and simultaneously caring for elderly or inform parents. As the huge numbers of aging “Baby Boomers” near retirement age we will see an increase in the Sandwich Generation. Your lawyer has training and knowledge to help you over these hurdles.

There are many challenges facing the Sandwich Generation including parents needing more assistance as they become older as well as parents living longer; children starting college at the same time your parents become dependent upon your support; children returning home after a divorce, college graduation or job loss and you caring for your aging parents at the same time.

Not only are there obvious financial burdens, but there are concerns regarding your aging parents estate plan. Plan now and ensure that your parents’ wishes are honored. Ask them now about what end of life wishes they have. Begin a conversation with them and don’t leave anything off limits. Does your parent want to be buried or cremated? How are you to know unless you talk about the subject?

Discussing these difficult topics when your parents are in good health relieves stress from high conflict situations. Inquire if your parents have an estate plan including a will or trust that is updated to show their current wishes. Many elderly people have a will that has not been reviewed for over 20 years. They may wish to make revisions to their will.

Do not leave these matters to chance and don’t guess at what your aging parents might want. Talk to them today and then make an appointment to see me and we can review your documents.

Divorce

Posted on by Katie Synor

Before beginning divorce proceedings you should give thoughtful consideration to a number of factors. For example, how much will it cost you to live alone and how much will it cost you to support your children.  In addition, there is the cost of legal representation for the divorce itself. Divorce can be expensive, especially if the couple cannot agree on custody of the children and maintenance (formerly known as alimony).

Missouri is not a community property state. Community property laws (commonly referred to as the fifty-fifty (50-50) rule) control the division of assets in nine states including Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. The law of equitable division governs the remaining forty-one states including Missouri. The equitable division of property is not based on a specific formula, such as the fifty-fifty rule of community property, but is instead based on the premise of fairness and is determined on a case-by-case basis.

Child support is money that one parent is ordered to pay on a regular basis to help pay for the costs of raising his or her children. The exact dollar amount one pays in child support is a generally determined through a complex series of steps and formulas and considers the gross monthly income of each party, costs of child care; health insurance and other extraordinary expenses for the children are often included in the child support amount. Each party must pay their proportionate share.

Child support terminates when the child reaches the age of emancipation (most often 18 years of age). If the child attends college or trade school, the age of emancipation is extended to 21 years of age. If a child gets married or enters active duty military service or becomes self supporting, child support will also terminate.

If a parent is not paying their court ordered support, a wage assignment can be ordered requiring the employer to attach the wages of the parent and have the child support withheld and then sent directly to Jefferson City office of Family Support Payment Center. A garnishment can also capture money from bank accounts, and income tax refunds can be intercepted before they are issued to the person who fails to pay support.

Whether or not a party is entitled to maintenance (formerly referred to as alimony or spousal support) is in the discretion of the Judge if the parties cannot agree to an amount. There are many factors considered by the Judge including the age of the parties, the length of the marriage, the age of any children, work history, and any misconduct of the parties.

What is Estate Planning?

Posted on by Katie Synor

What is Estate Planning?

“Estate” is the legal term used to define your property and money—basically, everything that belongs to you. Estate planning attorneys tell you different strategies you can use to transfer your belongings after you die. By planning your estate, you can maximize its value by minimizing taxes and eliminating court costs and interference. Estate planning attorneys also help you control and protect your estate during your lifetime, by writing documents that allow you to transfer property and money to children, charities, or others in a way you desire.

The basic tools used in estate planning include a Will also known as a Last Will and Testament, Trusts, when needed, Powers of Attorney for health care and financial needs, Advanced Healthcare Directives or what used to be called a Living Will and Beneficiary Deeds.

Powers of attorney for healthcare may help you avoid guardianship while financial powers of attorney may help you avoid conservatorship when you are incapacitated or become incompetent. An Advanced Healthcare Directive protects you from unwanted death prolonging medical procedures. Finally, a Beneficiary Deed helps you to avoid probate by transferring real estate upon your death. And Trusts are most often used with blended families or specifically to avoid estate tax consequences.

To learn more about estate planning, wills, and powers of attorney and how to avoid probate, in Lincoln, Pike, Warren and St. Charles Counties make an appointment today.

How To File For A No-Fault Divorce – Missouri Divorce Lawyer

Posted on by Katie Synor

It is important to understand the steps you need to take to file for a no-fault divorce in Missouri before you begin.

In Missouri, there is no need to provide grounds for a divorce in order to have a divorce granted. All that is necessary, is for one spouse to testify that the marriage is irretrievably broken and there is no likelihood the marriage can be preserved. If you are starting down this path, it is important to consult with a Missouri divorce lawyer who can help guide you. Continue reading →

What Are Contested and Uncontested Divorces – Troy Missouri Divorce Attorney

Posted on by Katie Synor

Since divorce can be a very painful, life-changing event, emotions often run high and it may be challenging for a divorcing couple to agree upon how to divide time with their children or specific assets. The longer a divorce drags out, the costlier it is in the long run for both parties. It is imperative to obtain the services of an experienced and compassionate Troy, Missouri divorce attorney to help fight for a fair settlement on your behalf. Continue reading →

Study: Divorce Affects A Woman’s Retirement, Savings

Posted on by Katie Synor

One in every five women stop pension payments after divorce, while half of married women make no contribution to their pensions while they are still married, according to new research from British financial specialist the Phoenix Group.

According to their findings, only one in every six have rights to their ex-husband’s pension and more than 38 percent said they had no idea what happened to pensions they did have during their marriage, following their divorce. In fact, only six percent of women surveyed had been granted rights to share the pension accrued during their union.

Additionally, 42 percent of the women surveyed said they were worse off financially after their divorces than they had been before. One in three don’t save any money at all and two in five didn’t know what settlement they received in their divorce.

The research was collected from online interviews of more than 2,000 divorcees aged 40 and older during September 2012. Phoenix Group is the UK’s largest specialist consolidator of closed life funds.

If you are facing a separation or divorce, it is imperative to work with a Troy, Missouri family attorney who can fight to make sure you are treated fairly in the process. Call today for your free, confidential consultation.

TV Watching Could Negatively Affect How Couples View Their Relationship

Posted on by Katie Synor

Frequent television viewing could affect the status of a romantic relationship according to a study published last fall in Mass Communication and Society.

The study results published in an article entitled “When TV and Marriage Meet: A Social Exchange Analysis of the Impact of Television Viewing on Marital Satisfaction and Commitment,” found the more an individual believed in television portrayals of romance, the less likely they were to be committed in their relationships.

Dr. Jeremy Osborn from Albion College studied more than 390 married couples. The couples were asked about their satisfaction with their current romantic relationship, relationship expectations, relationship commitment, belief in television portrayals of romantic relationships, viewing frequency and several others that focused on their spousal relationship.

“In this study I found that people who believe the unrealistic portrayals on TV are actually less committed to their spouses and think their alternatives to their spouse are relatively attractive” Osborn, the article’s author said. “My hope would be that people would read this article and take a look at their own relationships and the relationships of those around them. How realistic are your expectations for your partner and where did those expectations come from?”

Osborn pointed out that the marriage failure in the United States was not dropping and it was important that people got a sense for the factors that could be contributing to those failures.

If you are in need of a Troy, Missouri family attorney, contact my office today for your free, initial consultation.

Proposed Legislation Would Give Adoptees Access To Medical Information

Posted on by Katie Synor

Missouri lawmakers are debating a bill that may make it easier for adoptees to find their birth parents.

If House Bill 252 is passed, it would require the Missouri State Health Department to provide birth parents with a contact preference form as well as a medical history form that would be attached to a child’s birth certificate. Then, if both parties are willing, it would make the process of reconnecting easier.

Advocates for the bill argue it is important for a child to at least have access to medical records so they have a more complete medical history. A similar bill was passed last year by the House, but failed to clear the Senate.

Legislators have asked Rep. Jeanie Lauer, sponsor of the bill, to investigate how the proposed bill could affect those born through in vitro fertilization, surrogates and donates eggs and sperm as well as how it could affect the donors.

As the proposed bill stands, all adoptees 18 and older adopted after August 28, 2013, would be able to request a copy of their original birth certificate without the consent of their adoptive parents as long as there was no objections from the birth mother or the birth father.

If you are involved in an adoption, custody case or divorce, you may need counsel of an experienced Missouri Family Law Attorney. Call today for a free, initial consultation.

Read the proposed bill here >>>