Bristow Law Office, LLC

(816) 769-9978

1656 Washington St., Suite 130

Kansas City, MO 64108

Map & Directions

Office Hours

Monday - Friday

8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

After hours by appointment only

Contact Us

Family Law

Dealing with a divorce, division of property, spousal support, child custody and visitation, and child support, can be extremely tough, both physically and emotionally.  A family law attorney in our law office can actively fight on your behalf to help take some of the strain off of you.

We will begin by sitting down with you and talking about you and your family.  We will get to know you and the specific facts and circumstances of your case.  We will then go over the different options that can provide you with the most favorable outcome.  Together, we will decide the option that best works for you.


Missouri divorce actions are called dissolutions.  Dissolutions basically take one of three paths: (1) the parties agree about everything and are only seeking a court order granting them a divorce; (2) the parties cannot agree about a settlement initially, but eventually work through the process and arrive at a settlement; or (3) the parties never agree on all issues, and those issues are presented to the court for a judge to decide.  Frequently, some issues are settled between the parties, and a judge only has to determine resolutions for the unresolved issues.

Division of Property

Under Missouri law, a court must determine whether property owned by a couple is either marital or separate.  Property acquired by either spouse during the course of a marriage is considered marital property.  This includes real estate, cars, household furnishings and goods, pensions, retirement or investment accounts, bank accounts, and debts.

Generally, each spouse can take out of the marriage separate property owned prior to the marriage, any appreciation it has earned, plus any additional separate property acquired through gift, bequest, devise, or descent.   This includes property gifted by one of the spouses to the other during the marriage, and applies even if the gift was acquired with marital funds.  For example, anniversary gifts given by the husband to his wife are considered the wife's separate property.  

Spousal Support

Spousal support (alimony or maintenance) may be awarded to ensure an adequate income stream for persons whose economic dependency has resulted, at least in part, from the marital relationship.  Either spouse can be ordered to pay spousal support to the other.

Spousal support is becoming less common, but judges often grant it for a limited time in order to help one party become financially independent by acquiring adequate training or education.  Factors in determining the amount of spousal support include the length of the marriage and the education and earning capacities of both parties.

Child Custody & Visitation

The standard applied in awarding custody and visitation is the best interest of the child.  Some factors often considered in making the determination include:

•  Wishes of the parents

•  Wishes of the child

•  Interaction and interrelationship of the child with parents and siblings

•  Child’s adjustment to home, school, and community

•  Mental and physical health of the people involved

Having custody can mean legal custody, which is the right to make major decisions affecting the child’s life (school, religion, and health), or physical custody, which involves the day-to-day care of a child and establishes where a child will live.


Joint custody can mean either joint legal custody (parents share the decision-making, but the child remains with one parent), or joint physical custody (child divides time between each parent’s home), or both.  In joint physical custody, the living arrangements and care of the child is shared according to a court ordered custody schedule called a parenting plan.

If a child lives with one parent, that parent has sole physical custody and is said to be the custodial parent.  When an award of sole custody is made to one parent, the other parent is usually given reasonable visitation rights in order to promote the relationship between the child and both parents.  Visitation schedules depend on factors such as age of the child and the geographical proximity of the parents.

Child Support

The award of support to one party for the benefit of the children is generally based on monetary need and ability to pay.  Missouri has established guidelines for determining child support orders.  These guidelines consider the needs of the children, the income of each parent, and costs for childcare and health insurance.

The Missouri Child Support Guidelines Worksheet (Form 14) estimates the child support obligation that a court may order a parent to pay toward supporting the children on a monthly basis.  Under Missouri law, it is presumed that the amount of child support that results from the use of these guidelines is the correct amount of support to be awarded.

Modification of Custody/Support/Visitation

Often, the original plan entered by a court for child custody, visitation, or support does not work out as well as planned.  Sometimes it is because there have been changes in circumstances for the parties, and sometimes it is because of agreements that simply don’t work as well as planned.  Whatever the reason, cases involving children remain open until the child becomes emancipated (no longer living with parents and self supporting; usually age 18).   If there has been a substantial change in circumstances, child custody, visitation, and support, can be modified as necessary to suit the best interests of the child.

Disclaimer     © 2012 Bristow Law Office, LLC.  All rights reserved

Bristow Law Office, LLC is a Kansas City law firm with family law attorneys specializing in divorce cases, including division of property, spousal support, child custody, child support, visitation, and modification of divorce. Bristow Law Office serves the greater Kansas City area, including North Kansas City, Gladstone, Parkville, Platte City, Smithville, Liberty, Excelsior Springs, Independence, Blue Springs, Raytown, Lee’s Summit, Grandview, Raymore, Belton, Jackson County, Platte County, and Clay County