Legal Terms

Income and Expense Statement: An exhibit required by the Court which will set out all of your regular monthly income and the expenses that you believe are necessary to meet your reasonable needs both during the marriage and the anticipated expenses after the marriage has been dissolved. You are required to state what portion of the expenses are incurred on behalf of the children while in your care.

Form 14: An exhibit required by the Court which states your gross income, the gross income of the other parent, any expenses for other children or child support paid for other children, health care and child care costs and any other extraordinary expenses related to your children. These figures are used to calculate the presumed child support amount based on a chart set forth by the Missouri Supreme Court.

Parenting Plan: The document which states the rights and responsibilities of each parent with regard to general health, welfare and education of the children, the contact each parent will have with the children, and the division of financial responsibility for the children.

Joint Legal Custody: Each parent shares equal decision-making authority with regard to the general health, welfare and education of the children. Joint Physical Custody: Any contact schedule in which each parent has significant, meaningful and unrestricted contact with the children. This does not mean 50/50 spilt of time.

Sole Legal Custody: An arrangement where only one parent has the ultimate authority to make decisions regarding the general health, welfare and education of the children.

Sole Physical Custody: A contact schedule in which one parent has primary placement of the children and the other parent has periods of visitation, sometimes restricted in duration and requiring supervision.

Address for mailing and educational purposes: Literally this is a designation in the parenting plan that states what the child’s address will be for purposes of the United States Postal Service and to determine in what school district the child will be deemed to reside.

Direct Examination: When your attorney asks you questions or witnesses called on your behalf, in the presence of the Judge during an evidentiary hearing or trial.

Cross Examination: When your attorney asks questions of the other party or of witnesses called on his behalf, in the presence of the Judge during an evidentiary

Exhibit: Anything that your attorney wishes to be viewed or considered by the Judge that is permissible under the rules of evidence.

Final Judgment: The order entered by the Court that resolves all of the issues presented by the parties in their Petition and/or Counter-Petition.

Martial Settlement Agreement/Property Settlement Agreement: If you and your spouse successfully resolve the issues between the two of you without the need for a trial, then your attorneys will prepare a document that states to the Court exactly how you want the property, debts, and the investments divided.

Discovery: The process your attorney or you, if you do not have an attorney, will go through to gather as much information as possible about the assets, debts, income, parenting arrangements and marital conduct.

Interrogatories: A form of discovery in which your attorney sends written questions to the other party, which they are to answer under oath.

Request for Production of Documents: A form of discovery in which your attorney sends a written request for various documents needed to properly analyze your case. The most common documents to be requested are car titles, deeds, financial statements, bank statements, credit card statements, any appraisals of real estate or personal property; however, there may be a much more extensive request.

Depositions: A form of discovery in which your attorney can ask questions of your spouse in person with their attorney present under oath and transcribed by a Court Reporter. Attorneys can also use this method of discovery to question other witnesses or expert witnesses with knowledge of the facts of your case.

Compulsory Disclosure Order: An Order entered by the Court, which automatically compels each party to provide basic financial documents at the beginning of a case.

Guardian Ad Litem (GAL): If there are allegations of child abuse or neglect, if requested by either party, or if the child is old enough to express his/her desires, a GAL will be assigned by the Court to represent the child.

Interim Domestic Order: An Ordered entered by the Court in every case which sets forth various things that people can and cannot do while the case is pending such as selling property, incurring unreasonable debt, requiring the parties to stay away from each other’s homes, and requiring a contact schedule between each parent and the children born of both parties.

Temporary Hearing: If the parties cannot agree on how the financial arrangements should be handled while the case is pending or cannot agree on a contact schedule between the parents and children, then the court will schedule a short, usually one or two hour hearing where evidence will be presented by the attorneys and the Court will enter Orders regarding the finances and contact schedule.

Alternative Dispute Resolution: Methods used by the parties and, on occasion, the attorneys to assist in resolving the case without the need of a long, drawn out court battle. The most common is Mediation, which is usually ordered by the Commissioners in Greene County prior to any evidentiary

Property Schedules: Exhibits required by the Court which will set out all of the property, both personal and real estate, owned by you and your spouse, the debts and investments owned and acquired by the parties during their marriage, and how you would request the Court to divide.

Petition: The document filed to start the legal process of a dissolution of marriage, modification of a prior decree or a paternity and custody action. This document will contain all of the statistical information about you and the other parent including names, addresses, social security numbers, places of employment, date of marriage, date of separation, and information regarding any children born between the two of you.

Filing: The act of providing a legal document to the Circuit Clerk’s Office where a docket entry is made showing the date filed and by whom.

Docket Sheet: A chronological index kept by the Circuit Court showing what documents have been filed, the date on which they were filed, the person filing the documents, rulings, and orders made by the Court.

Answer: This is the document filed to respond to all of the allegations made in the Petition. Often filed with a Counter-Petition which will set forth what you would ask the Court to do in your case.

Counter-Petition: If you are not the first person to file, along with yourAnswer you can file a Counter-Petition, which will set forth what you would ask the Court to do in your case.

Summons: Once the Petition is filed, a copy of it will need to be served to the other parent by the Sheriff. The Summons is the document that is attached to the Petition to state who filed the action, the name of the attorney to whom you have to respond and sets forth the time limit of 30 days in which you have to file your Answer. The Sheriff will then return his or her copy of the Summons to the Circuit Clerk’s Office in order to show the officialdate on which your spouse/parent of your child was served.

Petitioner: The person who files the Petition.

Respondent: The person filed against whom a Petition is filed upon whom the Summons and Petition are served.

Plaintiff: The person who files the Petition in a Paternity action.

Defendant: The person against whom a Paternity action is filed and upon whom the Summons and Petition are served.

Motion for Temporary Allowances: This is another written document that is prepared which asks the Court to make Orders with regard to maintenance (formerly known as alimony), child support, attorney’s fees and other financial obligations of the parties until the case is over.

Case Management Hearing: The Family Court Commissioners in Greene County hold these meetings usually within 90 days of the Petition being filed. This is to ensure that the financial obligations of the parties are being met, that each parent is seeing the children, to put in place some reasonable child support, possibly enter a Scheduling Order, discuss the possibility of alternative dispute resolution/mediation and on occasion, to set the case for trial.

Scheduling Order: An Order entered by the Court telling the attorneys and the parties when their discovery must be completed.

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