Divorce: Navigating Property Division

Navigating Property Division in Divorce: How Marital Assets and Debts are Divided in Kansas City, Missouri

Anthony moreno and his divorce/child custody/child support team at MorenoLawKC.
Anthony moreno and his team at MorenoLawKC.

Divorce can be a complex and emotionally charged process, especially when it comes to dividing marital assets and debts. In Kansas City, Missouri, understanding how property division works is crucial for ensuring a fair and equitable settlement. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide on how marital assets and debts are divided during a divorce in Kansas City.

Understanding Marital Property

In Missouri, marital property includes all assets and debts acquired by either spouse during the marriage, with a few exceptions such as gifts, inheritances, and property acquired before the marriage. Marital property can include:

Equitable Distribution

Missouri follows the principle of equitable distribution, which means that marital property is divided in a manner that is fair but not necessarily equal. The court considers various factors to determine an equitable division, including:

Steps in Property Division

  1. Identification and Valuation of Assets and Debts: Both parties must provide a complete inventory of all marital assets and debts. This includes appraisals for real estate and personal property, as well as statements for financial accounts and debts.
  2. Classification of Property: Determining what constitutes marital property versus non-marital property is a critical step. Non-marital property typically remains with the original owner, while marital property is subject to division.
  3. Negotiation and Settlement: Many couples prefer to negotiate a settlement agreement through mediation or collaborative divorce. This approach allows for more control over the division process and can be less contentious than court proceedings.
  4. Court Intervention: If an agreement cannot be reached, the court will intervene and make the final decisions regarding property division. The judge will consider all relevant factors to ensure a fair distribution.

Special Considerations

Protecting Your Interests

To protect your interests during the property division process, consider the following tips:


Dividing marital assets and debts during a divorce in Kansas City, Missouri, requires a clear understanding of the state's laws and a strategic approach to negotiation and litigation. By identifying and valuing all marital property, classifying it accurately, and seeking professional guidance, you can navigate the process more effectively and work towards a fair and equitable settlement.

If you need assistance with property division or other aspects of divorce, child support, or child custody, contact our experienced legal team at MorenoLawKC. We are here to help you through every step of the process.

Understanding Child Support Laws in Kansas City, Missouri: An Overview of How Child Support is Calculated and Enforced

Child support is a crucial aspect of ensuring the well-being of children after their parents divorce. In Kansas City, Missouri, both parents share the financial responsibility for raising their children. This article provides a general overview of how child support is calculated and enforced in Kansas City.

Calculating Child Support in Kansas City

Missouri uses a guideline called the "Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligations" to determine child support amounts. This schedule considers several factors, including:

Important Points to Remember:

Enforcing Child Support Orders in Kansas City

If a parent fails to meet their child support obligations, several enforcement mechanisms are available:

Seek Legal Guidance for Your Specific Situation

While this article provides a general overview, child support cases can be complex. It's crucial to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer in Kansas City who can assess your specific situation and advise you on the most effective course of action. An attorney can help you:

Protecting Your Child's Financial Security

Child support plays a vital role in ensuring your child's financial well-being after a divorce. By understanding the child support laws in Kansas City and seeking legal guidance, you can work towards a fair and sustainable solution for your family.

Co-Parenting Successfully After Divorce in Kansas City, Missouri: Tips and Strategies for Effective Co-Parenting

Divorce can be a challenging and emotional process, especially when children are involved. Co-parenting, or the shared parenting of children by separated or divorced parents, is a crucial aspect of post-divorce life that requires cooperation, communication, and compromise. Here are some tips and strategies for successful co-parenting after divorce in Kansas City, Missouri:

1. Put Your Children First: Remember that your children's well-being should be the top priority. Put aside any negative feelings you have towards your ex-spouse and focus on what is best for your children.

2. Communicate Effectively: Maintain open and honest communication with your ex-spouse about your children's needs and activities. Use respectful and courteous language, and avoid discussing personal issues or conflicts.

3. Create a Co-Parenting Plan: Develop a detailed co-parenting plan that outlines parenting schedules, decision-making responsibilities, and communication guidelines. This plan can help prevent misunderstandings and conflicts in the future.

4. Be Flexible: Be willing to be flexible with your co-parenting schedule when necessary. Life events and circumstances may require adjustments to the plan, so it's important to be accommodating and understanding.

5. Respect Each Other's Parenting Styles: Recognize that you and your ex-spouse may have different parenting styles, and that's okay. Respect each other's approaches to parenting and try to find common ground when making parenting decisions.

6. Keep Your Children Out of Conflicts: Avoid involving your children in conflicts or disagreements with your ex-spouse. Shield them from adult issues and maintain a positive and supportive relationship with them.

7. Attend Parenting Classes or Counseling: Consider attending parenting classes or counseling sessions to learn effective co-parenting strategies and improve communication with your ex-spouse.

8. Seek Support: Reach out to friends, family members, or a support group for divorced parents in Kansas City for emotional support and guidance. It's important to take care of yourself so you can be a better parent to your children.

9. Focus on Consistency: Try to maintain consistency between households in terms of rules, discipline, and routines. This can help provide stability and structure for your children.

10. Be Patient: Co-parenting is a process that takes time and effort. Be patient with yourself, your ex-spouse, and your children as you navigate this new chapter in your lives.

Successful co-parenting after divorce in Kansas City requires dedication, patience, and a commitment to putting your children's needs first. By following these tips and strategies, you can create a positive co-parenting relationship that benefits your children and helps them adjust to life after divorce.

Contact us today for a consultation.

Protecting Your Rights as a Parent: Legal Steps to Take in Kansas City

Protecting your rights as a parent in Kansas City is paramount, and understanding the legal landscape is crucial. As a parent, it's essential to grasp your rights, especially regarding child custody and support. Working with a Kansas City divorce attorney can provide invaluable guidance through the complexities of family law, ensuring your rights are protected.

Legal documentation is vital in child custody cases. Understanding the required paperwork and court procedures can streamline the process. A knowledgeable child custody lawyer in Kansas City can assist in preparing the necessary documents and navigating the family court system effectively. Moreover, engaging in divorce mediation in Kansas City can offer a less adversarial approach, potentially easing the strain of a custody battle.

Co-parenting effectively is key to maintaining a stable environment for your children. Tips for successful co-parenting, such as open communication and flexibility, can help minimize conflict. In conclusion, partnering with a reputable family law attorney in Kansas City can provide the support and expertise needed to protect your parental rights and navigate family court proceedings with confidence.

Contact us today for a consultation.

Thinking About Divorce? A Financial Primer

‘the pivotal unanswered question in the mind of an unhappy spouse is whether he or she would survive the financial impact of divorce.’

The decision to end a marriage is complex and difficult, at best. However, far too often, the pivotal unanswered question in the mind of an unhappy spouse is whether he or she would survive the financial impact of divorce.

Despite wealth of resources provided here, and through the courts, men and women contemplating divorce too often haven’t the slightest idea how a divorce will impact them financially.

Often, they are afraid to hire a lawyer fearing, irrationally, that such a step might represent a point of no return. Without some solid assurance that they will stay afloat after a divorce, they wonder whether divorce is even an option.

‘people are reassured to know that it is usually possible for an experienced divorce lawyer’

While this is a legitimate question to which there is no easy answer, most people are reassured to know that it is usually possible for an experienced divorce lawyer, armed with just some basic information about the history of the marriage and the financial circumstances of the parties, to offer some good educated predictions regarding the outcome of a divorce case.

To offer useful guidance in such a short period of time lawyers often begin with formulas. These formulas are not always a matter of law, except with respect to child support. Nevertheless, many judges use them regularly, not to arrive at final decisions in their cases, but to provide themselves with a starting point for their deliberations and to remain fair and consistent in their decisions.

‘it is possible for a lawyer to estimate, with some degree of certainty’

People who, for months or even years, have been struggling with fears about their financial future in the face of possible divorce, understandably feel enormous relief to hear that it is possible for a lawyer to estimate, with some degree of certainty, what they can reasonably expect to receive as part of their divorce settlement.

Even before consulting with a lawyer, it should be a comfort, or at least a help, to know a few general rules of thumb.

‘Many people worry that the court will order them to sell their home.’

First, one should assume that, absent good reasons to the contrary, assets acquired during the marriage including home equity, retirement accounts, pensions, and savings of all types will probably be divided equally regardless of which party was the primary breadwinner.

Especially in a short marriage, assets acquired prior to marriage will probably be divided only to the extent that they have appreciated in value during the marriage.

Many people worry that the court will order them to sell their home. They are happy to learn that, when there are children living in that home, it is more likely that a court will allow the custodial parent to remain there and to pay the other parent his or her share of equity much later, either when the custodial parent marries, cohabits, or dies, or when the youngest child reaches majority.

‘Child support guidelines typically focus on the income of each parent rather than on either parent’s expenses’

Next, child support, if there are children, can be calculated in accordance with published guidelines. Since the late 198o’s, states have been required to promulgate and publish such guidelines and they are available both on-line and through the offices of court clerks in all states.

Child support guidelines typically focus on the income of each parent rather than on either parent’s expenses other than mandatory items of withholding. Anyone contemplating divorce should ask their local court for a copy of their state’s child support guidelines and spend an hour or so estimating the payment that they will either receive or be expelled to pay.

‘Finally comes the issue of alimony.’

Finally comes the issue of alimony. Here, there is less predictability. To determine a ballpark amount of alimony, do the following: First, look at the total net income of the spouse with the greatest weekly income.

If the income of the parties is roughly equal, there should be no alimony.

Remember, in calculating weekly net income, to add back to each party’s weekly paycheck any voluntary deductions such as 401K savings or loan payments that are being deducted from weekly gross income on a voluntary basis.

‘Once you have determined the net weekly income of the parties, a simple three step formula applies.’

Once you have determined the net weekly income of the parties, a simple three step formula applies.

As the first step, subtract the expected weekly child support, if any, based on published state guidelines

Next, multiply the remaining net income of the higher earner by forty percent.

Finally, from this figure, subtract fifty percent of the net income of the likely recipient of alimony.

The resulting figure should be considered a likely alimony award which can at least be kept in mind as a benchmark for planning purposes and during any negotiations concerning alimony.

‘alimony is never automatically forfeited just by virtue of being the party seeking the divorce’

Reasons to vary from that number include the potential additional income of an underemployed or part time worker, and serious issues of fault. On the latter point, you should be cautioned that a single incident of infidelity is unlikely to change the alimony picture substantially especially if it has taken place at the end of the marriage.

Also, alimony is never automatically forfeited just by virtue of being the party seeking the divorce even in a situation where the other party wishes to remain married.

‘alimony is typically time limited.’

Except in very long marriages, or one in which the recipient of alimony is or is expected to become, unable to work, alimony is typically time limited.

In a marriage of ten years or less, it is possible to guess that alimony will end after a time period equal to about half the length of the marriage.

If the marriage has lasted between ten and twenty years, a better estimate is to determine the length of the marriage in months and to divide that number by 40.

For example after a fifteen year marriage, it would be reasonable to expect that alimony, if any, will probably last about three-quarters of the length of the marriage or just over eleven years.

If this formula seems too complicated, simply know that the duration of alimony is likely to be something between half the length of the marriage and the full length of the marriage with the latter extreme usually being ordered only in long marriages.

‘competent representation by an experienced lawyer.’

Of course these guidelines are helpful only to the extent that family income and assets are counted correctly.

Individuals contemplating divorce should collect and organize as much information about their finances as possible.

Bank and brokerage statements, pay stubs, W-2 forms, tax returns, annual benefits statements and credit card statements are all useful in putting together a good summary of family finances.

The fact that it is possible, within reason, to estimate the probable outcome of the marriage, does not obviate the need for competent representation by an experienced lawyer.

‘That important decision should not be guided by fear and uncertainty.’

Divorce is not a science and the outcome of a trial can be quite different from what the parties and their lawyers expect it to be.

Because that is so, it is always better to negotiate an outcome consistent with a range of predictable outcomes than to leave the decision to an individual judge.

Long before negotiations start in earnest, though, there must be an informed decision whether to begin the process at all.

That important decision should not be guided by fear and uncertainty.

By using widely accepted formulas for estimating the most likely outcome of a contested case, when divorce cannot be avoided, at least a stressful and costly trial can be.

By negotiating wisely and in good faith, divorcing couples can at least offer one another a fair chance to live happily ever after.

Moreno Law speaks with Fox4 on selecting divorce lawyer

Anthony Moreno appears on Ask the Experts with FOX4’s Carey Wickersham.

In this episode of Ask The Experts, Anthony Moreno talks to Fox4KC about his journey in becoming a divorce and child custody lawyer in Kansas City.

Watch the video to get advice about selecting a divorce attorney, costs associated with divorce settlement, child custody issues, and more.

Full transcription below.

Carrie: Hi everybody, I’m Carrie Wickersham, thanks so much for joining us for this episode of ask the experts. Today we’re talking about a little bit of a difficult topic on the show, if you’re even considering ending your marriage you know it’s a difficult decision, and you may want to talk to somebody about that before you finalize that decision. And we are talking today to our sponsored guest divorce and child custody attorney Anthony Marino. And thanks for joining us this morning.

Anthony Moreno: Thank you very much.

Carrie: So, in talking to you extensively before this podcast, I’ve discovered that you are not a cookie cutter divorce attorney whatsoever. As a matter of fact, I’ve never met anyone like you who’s even an attorney and that’s a good thing. So, we’re gonna talk sort of about your unusual bio.

Anthony Moreno: Okay.

Carrie: You’ve been practicing for about five years, but before that tell us a little bit about yourself?

Anthony Moreno: Yeah, before I started law school, I was at the Postal Service over in Kansas City Kansas. I worked there for almost six years, I was a mail handlers, what they were called back then I think they’ve had some changes since then. But yeah, I was what’s called a blue-collar rocker it was a union guy very Pro Union. I had a family, so I was already married with I had two stepsons and then my son, Joseph, together with my wife. And I was working night 6:30 to 3:00. In the morning trying to complete my degree I went to Park University while I was there, I was able to complete my bachelor’s while I was there.

And I thought that was it, I thought that was it everybody was excited kind of where I come from that’s kind of the end-all be-all is, you get a job for GM or Ford or the Postal Service, and and you made it you made it. Now you’re just kind of working in.

Carrie: And you were the first one in your family to get a college degree. Is that correct?

Anthony Moreno: Almost correct, so yeah, it’s on my mom’s side absolutely, I was the first person to go to college, on my dad side I did have one aunt who is a social worker who attended St. Mary’s in Kansas University.

Carrie: Okay, but from there you really broke the mold, because you decided to take the LSAT, BOSS school entrance exam sort of.

Anthony Moreno: I did, I had always wanted to be an attorney you know from the time I can remember back in kindergarten. There was a worksheet that they had us complete where they had three different animated characters that we colored in and they were like you know color the one that you think you want to be in. There was like a police officer a firefighter and a man in a suit with a briefcase.

And coming for I come, where I come from the guy looked like that guy you know that’s professional that’s, that’s a person who commands respect that’s a person who’s got a dignified career, like I want to be that guy. Had always wanted to go to law school but I never thought that was an opportunity that’s just not something that’s talked about in the community where I come from. Again, like I said the end-all be-all for us was I mean if you got a UPS job or a FedEx job like you made it.

So, that’s just not something that we aspired to be here to do. When I told my parents that I was leaving the Postal Service to go to law school, they thought I was crazy.

Carrie: Loco.

Anthony Moreno: Yes, they thought I was absolutely Loco, they what do you mean you’re leaving like you know 30 years and you’re out at that job, what are you talking about good benefits you have children what are you doing. But my wife was incredibly encouraging she’s like just take the LSAT see what happens. And so, I I completed my bachelor’s degree, I took it the first time and I completely bombed him. I took it without any preparation whatsoever, then I took a prep course. I took it a second time and I scored pretty well.

And there’s a long story of these different little signs that I ran through that were just pointing me in the direction of just go ahead and apply, just go ahead and see what happens. And I took a leap of faith, we applied and I was accepted. And when I was accepted, I received two letters. One of them was the acceptance letter, one of them was the scholarship letter. I had no idea that the second letter was a scholarship letter. I read the first one, when you put them side-by-side the letters looked identical but the top one had a personal note from the Dean.

And so, I thought maybe they sent me the personal one and the other one for like my files or something. So, then my wife and I are like well how in the heck are we gonna pay for this now cuz law school is incredibly expensive. Several months go by, I go back and I’m we’re praying about, this we’re like dear God why would you let me get accepted if we’re not going to be able to be you know to finance this thing. And I go back in the envelope and I read the second letter and it says that, they have extended me a full scholarship.

Carrie: That’s crazy.

Anthony Moreno: I had no idea and you know I think I cried at that moment like I can’t believe this is happening and I had the deadline to accept that scholarship had already passed. So, that I immediately jump on the phone and I call you know the school and I asked them, hey I didn’t realize this and they said no problem. We’ll put you down, you’re good to go we’ll see you in the fall.

Carrie: You said we know how those mail handlers, aren’t they lost the letters.

Anthony Moreno: Exactly.

Carrie: Okay, so it goes further than that, because it’s not only you know that maybe socioeconomically, you weren’t someone who was you know gonna go to law school. But it’s also when you got out of law school and you chose family law at the time, but now and a divorce attorney basically. That doesn’t even settle with you spiritually, you’re talking about praying and everything, you sort of or someone who’s been married 12 years and has four kids. And was there ever a point where you’re like I think this is what God wants me to do but does he want me to end marriages.

Anthony Moreno: Honestly, I’m Catholic.

Carrie: Yes, you got the git cross around your neck.

Anthony Moreno: I’m Catholic and so it was an inner struggle II there was for sure like I mean I’ve never been a devout Catholic. I’m not gonna you know I’ve never been a Bible pusher, I’m not gonna force my religion on anybody else. But at the same time, I was raised very strongly by my grandmother, my mother who were very very strong Catholics, and very much advocates for the give it to God and God’s will is gonna be done whether we like it or not. And so, I prayed that while going through law school and then after graduating, because I thought I was going to be the prosecutor.

I thought I was gonna I did work here in Jackson County my third year law school. I thought I was going to be a criminal defense attorney, I thought you know the personal injury attorney something that I had seen growing up on television, this is what I want it to be. I didn’t take a single family law course in law school. I had grown up seeing my own family’s dysfunction all through my entire life. I wanted nothing to do with it which I’m sure a lot of my clients can appreciate that, they’re like you know, they don’t they wouldn’t want to practice this every day.

My clients tell me that all the time we have no idea how you could do this every day. There is a reason there are so few attorneys in town that practice that it’s specialized in family law, most people don’t anything to do with it. And so, I prayed to God I said, if this is what you want me to do, I’m not the kind of guy who picks up on subtle hints. You’re gonna have to drop this on my head and let me know. And after I graduated, I opened up my own practice, I started right away out of my house. I had to, I mean it was time to get to work I had to support my family I had been relying on my wife and my parents and everybody along the way student loans to survive it was time to get to work.

And I had run into a couple of different mentors who were pointing me in this direction, those seem to be the calls that dominated my phone line were divorce and child custody calls. And I gave in, and I one of my mentors says give it up man you’re family lawyer you’re a divorce lawyer just this is what you were meant to do. My wife says, give it up like just be the best family lawyer you can be this is it this is what you’re supposed to do. And since that moment, since that moment that I relented that I just said you know what your will not mine.

Carrie: God wants to call you a divorce attorney.

Anthony Moreno: Right, it doesn’t make any sense but here we are and we’ve experienced such great success in doing it. We’ve been able to help phenomenal people, I truly look at it like God selected me, I’m a tool to carry out his will. Like people need to be protected in certain cases, people need to be advocated for in all cases. Everyone has to have a voice in a lot of these relationships there’s one dominant and one submissive and people need when they’re dominant they need to be told to dial it down. And when they’re submissives we need to to advocate for those people, so they can have a voice.

Carrie: Another unusual I’m a divorce attorney, but you know we were talking off air a little bit about the fact that even though divorce is hard and it ruins lives and it’s difficult for children and nobody’s trying to disguise that fact. It’s, I’m glad in America it’s legal where would we be if we were a country where it wasn’t legal. And if it is legal and we’ve decided that it needs to be legal, it’s wonderful to have somebody there who you can trust. And I know that you put a high quality on that. So, obviously US News and World Report also does because they named you one of the tops. Is it 50 top 50 law firms?

Anthony Moreno: It’s one of the 50 top family law firms in the country.

Carrie: And the top lawyers for two years, and when I look at your I did some research on you. I’m a journalist, and so when I look at your reviews they’re remarkable for someone who’s a divorce attorney. So, that being said let’s ask you some questions. So, the folks out there can get a little bit of free advice, which doesn’t happen very often from an Attorney.

Anthony Moreno: Let’s do.

Carrie: Okay good. So, I think the friends I talked to who are going through or who’ve been through divorce say, their first question is. How much is this gonna cost me? And you said that is a very common first question. And that’s a hard one to answer I’m sure because you charge hourly, right.

Anthony Moreno: Absolutely, so okay that’s the typically the first or second question that I get when I pick up the phone. That’s one thing that I try and do at our firm as I answered 99% of our phone calls. So, usually when people call, they’re like, can I speak to an attorney that’s me? And so usually they’re surprised like oh okay I didn’t have to go through six different people to try and get to you. But that’s, so that’s how I know that’s the first two questions people ask is typically, do you offer free consultations and what’s this thing gonna cost me.

And I always have to tell them, I’m sorry, it’s so difficult for me to because if you tell someone a price then they’re gonna want to bank on that price and then they come in and they we get all the facts on the table. And it turns out that there are allegations of abuse or people owned businesses things that naturally complicate the case and naturally require more of my time and drive up the cost.

Carrie: So, the baseline, your cheapest divorce.

Anthony Moreno: So, the cheapest divorce I would say you’re looking in the neighborhood of around 2000 to 2500 dollars. That typically for my firm that includes court cost, so we pay for the filing fees, we pay for the cost to get the opposing party served with the documents. And that kind of is your price of admission to get your case filed.

Carrie: And that’s where both parties are pretty amicable and they’re willing to come to quick terms.

Anthony Moreno: Right, so when I talked to those clients now I do I do tell them, I do give them my disclaimer when they call and they say, hey because I get that call a lot. And they it usually goes like, hey how much is it for an uncontested divorce. And then I have to ask them how uncontested is it. Because we handle several divorces like we’re talking around 200 divorces probably a year, and out of those 200 divorces maybe five to ten max are actually uncontested divorces. And what uncontested means is, you all are already in agreement on how we’re going to divide property, on how we’re going to divide debts and how we are going to split time custody expenses for children.

That means the two of you are so amicable that you’re able to sit down in the same house at a table, take notes, write these things down and bring me that agreement. Bring me that agreement and you will save yourself a ton of money it does not have to be a fight. It doesn’t have to be, as long as you both understand that you’re reaching an agreement, you’re reaching a settlement the nature of the word settlement is we settled. That means I didn’t get everything that I wanted, you didn’t get everything that you wanted.

But we put either our children’s best interests at heart or our own pocketbooks at you know at the forefront where we don’t want to spend a ton of money on attorneys and you don’t have to as long as the two of you can work it out.

Carrie: Now I know at another name for attorney’s counselor.

Anthony Moreno: Yes.

Carrie: But so, counselor and that people go see a therapist first before they see you. So, they, you’re not dealing they’re not, I mean because you’re more expensive than a therapist.

Anthony Moreno: Absolutely, I do have clients that occasionally want to use me as you know in my office, I actually have a couch set up but it really kind of mimics a counseling setting. But I do recommend that people see a counselor either there because they want to attempt to reconcile or they want to see if divorce is the right way for them to go or they need to learn the skills to cope with the divorces, we’re going to go through it.

Carrie: Before they come to you.

Anthony Moreno: Yeah absolutely. When I absolutely recommend counseling to every single one of my clients. Some people are taken aback by that some people go wide, I’m so I’m not the problem but you have to understand that this is a highly emotional topic. This is going to be an emotional process and it’s going to last somewhere between four months and two years depending on how much we fight.

Carrie: That’s incredible, I think people going into that don’t realize the length of time invested in this. And so, your baseline is around 2500 for your flat. What’s the most expensive divorce you’ve ever done?

Anthony Moreno: The sky’s the limit for sure for divorces. I have handled divorces that have gone in excess of $50,000 in fees.

Carrie: Wow and that’s contested, those are ugly.

Anthony Moreno: Super contested, super contested cases a lot of times and actually all the time. Usually in those scenarios somebody has got their heels dug all the way in, somebody has told themselves here’s where my line in the sand is and I’m not negotiating anywhere beyond that. And the only way that we get beyond that is one you’ve got one party who says, fine I lay down and I’ll take whatever they’re demanding, or two we go all the way to trial and a judge is gonna make the decisions for everything. That’s where we present evidence on both sides.

Everyone has an opportunity to testify present evidence and then the judge is gonna make a decision about your children, about who pays what, about who gets what. And that is the least attractive option, I always advise my clients one it’s absolutely the most expensive. The trials I mean like here in Jackson County just here in Kansas City. If we filed a case today you would not see a trial anytime before probably 8 to 12 months.

Carrie: Wow, and it’s also so costly emotionally for everyone involved, the kids, both parties, both families if you’re dragging it all the way through that. You know something you said to me on the phone that surprised me so much. I have several female friends, whose  husbands have been unfaithful and they think if they’ve got texts or photos and one person appears to be morally especially more innocent, than the other person. Then the innocent person sometimes wants to use court time to prove the guilty persons just how wrong and how bad they’ve been mistreated. And it used to be that that mattered.

People would hire a detective to go get those pictures and everything. And you’re saying now it does not matter to the judge if one party has not loved and you know held up their marriage vows at all. It just doesn’t matter?

Anthony Moreno: Not, okay so it can but not the way that people commonly think, okay. So, historically people thought that if I got a videotape of my husband cheating, that was gonna be my ticket, which formally known as alimony whatever. Now it’s called spousal maintenance but back then alimony that’s what you were gonna get, if oh I’ve got you now you know you cheated on me now, I’m gonna take you to the cleaners. Judges today typically and with the way the laws currently are Missouri is a no-fault state.

If somebody wants to get a divorce then they can get a divorce whether someone has done something bad or not.

Carrie: Same with Kansas, right?

Anthony Moreno: Yes, so the only, this is kind of my disclaimer is the, it may come into play, if you have evidence that the cheating spouse was siphoning off money from the marital estate to put up the girlfriend in an apartment somewhere, and we can, we’ve got a paper trail to back that up. Now you might be awarded what’s called a disproportionate amount the marital estate. And so then maybe he has to pay more of the debts and you get more of the assets, and so there’s an unequal division that’s. And so, you’re sort of recouping that money that he was paying to girlfriend.

That’s the only way that it really gets taken into consideration anymore. For the most part the judges that I’ve spoken to and the cases that I’ve handled, judges look at it more along the lines of okay he cheated, it’s a symptom that the marriage is broken, and they need to be divorced. But not necessarily that you’re going -.

Carrie: He needs to pay.

Anthony Moreno: Not necessarily the right that he needs to pay and that there’s going to be this you know astronomical monument warded to you know.

Carrie: Yeah, I guess not on the basis of morality anymore.

Anthony Moreno: Not anymore.

Carrie: Yeah, and what you also told me is what the judge does look out more than anything else is the welfare of the children if they’re involved.

Anthony Moreno: For sure so and I I’ve been involved in so many cases where there are parents who are bad actors, who do lots of bad things on the weekends or while the kids are at school. And a lot of times that doesn’t come into play. I’ve been involved in cases where parents are involved in prostitution rings, involved in substance abuse and you know sometimes if the judge, if they’re not doing anything bad in front of the children it’s not gonna come into play.

And so, a lot of clients when they come in and they feel like, hey I’ve got pictures and audio and here’s this website of this person who is you know selling their bodies online.

Carrie: With a side of meth.

Anthony Moreno: Right.

Carrie: It’s crazy because that stuff happens and the judge doesn’t protect, you you think as the party who was innocent of all this you think you’re owed something. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it and that’s shocking.

Anthony Moreno: It has to be postured in the right way and it’s our court system is very procedurally driven. So, one we have to be able to prove what’s going on, and so meth is absolutely like any hardcore drugs, I will say that.

Carrie: That affects the kids.

Anthony Moreno: Yes, I will say that if you’re using meth or cocaine and we can prove that, that is going to be very negatively looked upon by the judge regardless of when you using it. Because that impacts you typically beyond -.

Carrie: And it’s illegal.

Anthony Moreno: And it’s illegal. I will say that marijuana is starting to get a lighter look. And you know if parents are using marijuana and that they’re not using it in front of the children, typically judges are gonna say, man it’s not that big of a deal anymore. But if you test positive for anything beyond that, it will be look negatively. But one thing I guess I want to throw this out there because you were bringing up like people want to bring into me photos and audio recordings and things like that because we’re we were talking initially about the cost of things.

And so, people want to bring this evidence and one of the most common things that I have to tell people is, I hope you realized that the only time these items are ever going to see the light of day in front of a judge, is that trial. The court system is so backed up with every case you can imagine that we don’t have little mini hearings along the way, where we present this evidence. It just doesn’t happen very often.

Carrie: So, how much is it worth to you in time and money to make this person feel really bad for what they’ve done?

Anthony Moreno: Which is where my counselor role comes in and I have to counsel my client, like are you willing to pay 12, 30, 40, 50 thousand dollars to be right.

Carrie: To shame this person

Anthony Moreno: Correct you know or do you just want to be divorced.

Carrie: You want to be over or do you want it to be right.

Anthony Moreno: Exactly, look let’s just would you rather be happier right let’s just move on.

Carrie: So, let’s talk we’re gonna back up just a little bit because your first step with someone after they call you and you answer the phone and that never happens and you talk to them for a second, you book a consultation with them. Now some attorneys charge consultation fees and some don’t, you do why?

Anthony Moreno: Well, I would say that the majority of family attorneys in Kansas City now are charging for them. And if I offered free consultations, there would be that’s all I would have time to do, the line would be wrapped around the corner. Secondly, ethically I’m only permitted to give you general advice kind of like what I’m doing here, I’m speaking very generally right. Nobody is on the line saying here’s my specific situation what should i do or what can I do. And so, I charge for my consultations, one because they’re longer.

Your free consultations are normally 15 to 20 minutes, my consultations are somewhere between 45 minutes in an hour. And that’s because we have to discuss everything, we have to discuss the entire marital estate anything you owned prior to marriage, how much equity is in your home, your vehicles, what kind of credit card debt do you have, what kind of retirement plans do you have. Some people were bring in their statements for me their mortgage balance statement, so I can take a look and see what ideally you’re looking at as far as the settlement goes.

And so, I will run a child support calculation for you, if we have an idea of what your spouse makes and what you make and what people pay for health insurance and the appropriate credits that we’re looking at. I can tell you roundabout number what you’re looking at any other receiving or paying for support. People want to know the specific answers to these questions, in family law cases and divorce cases. They don’t want to know what is the definition of joint custody, what is the definition of sole custody.

You’re for sure gonna get that anyway when you come and see me, because there are a lot of misconceptions about what these legalese terms mean. But I go further than that, I say okay here’s your situation, here’s what we have to do next. And a lot of times we catch people just in time, you come in and you say, hey I think my spouse is getting ready to file a restraining order. Well, a restraining order can grant that spouse temporary possession, exclusive possession of the residence. Which means you get served and you don’t get to go back home where are you gonna go.

So, we have to be prepared and we have to anticipate these things. And when you handle as many divorce cases as we do, we’re able to sort of use past experiences and other fact patterns and other evidence.

Carrie: To protect them.

Anthony Moreno: To protect them, to guesstimate what the other person is going to do and in turn protect you from whatever that might be.

Carrie: One of the things on there’s such a wealth of information on your website, on your Facebook pages and things like that. But one of the questions that comes up besides how much is this gonna cost me in terms of attorney fees is, can I survive this financially long term? Because it cuts your finances in half.

Anthony Moreno: Exactly, I mean you’re going from having a two-person income sharing all of the bills typically, does not always but typically to being on your own and depending on child support maybe or potentially spousal support payments. And in my practice at least with the clients that I have served, spousal maintenance is not common. It’s not something that the courts readily order and it’s typically not something that people readily agree to. Because those are your two options and divorce.

Your two options are we agree to something or the judge decides everything. And most spouses are not saying, absolutely I’ll pay you X amount of dollars for the next X amount of years or forever. It just doesn’t happen, that’s what a lot of people come in for is like, hey I absolutely don’t want to pay my spouse alimony, how can I avoid that. So, we take a look at that and we say, okay and we would draft what’s called an income and expense statement. And so, your income and expense statement is a verified statement meaning you signed it in front of a notary. It’s you’re saying it’s true the whole truth and nothing but the truth as to what your monthly average incoming and outgoing expenses look like.

And then the other, the opposing party will have to fill out the same and we can compare the two and we can decide if we believe that this is an ideal case for spousal support. Spousal support is designed to help you get back on your feet, it’s typically not designed to be a permanent scenario, but it is designed to help you either acquire additional education, time to get a better job. And I mean, I believe that spousal support was initially created to protect the stay-at-home wife. It was designed to protect the husband who was the breadwinner, the wife who stayed at home and took care of the kids.

Carrie: Or put him through medical school.

Anthony Moreno: Or put him through medical school, and then he you know goes off and marries his secretary or whatever. And then so now she’s stuck with no formal education, hasn’t worked in ten years and children to take care of. And so, the laws back then were designed to protect that spouse from being sort of you know just left out on the curb.

Carrie: Yeah, for sure. So, when we talk about this and we haven’t talked that much about the child custody thing. And I think we may touch on that another time because as a whole different thing. But based on your experiences, what are some ways to sort of navigate an amical divorce, where emotions are protected, where the children are as protected as possible. It really involves kind of putting your ego and your rights even on the Shelf. Doesn’t it?

Anthony Moreno: It does, and I think rule number one I think the the biggest thing you can do to help your case is, don’t talk about the case with your kids. It’s one thing to completely degrade your spouse to the children like that’s just a hundred and fifty percent unacceptable, but don’t talk to them about the case at all. They don’t need updates on what’s going on, they don’t need to know when people are going to court, they need to go to school. They need to go to school and they need to focus on their daily lives being kept as normal as possible.

And they don’t need to experience what is known as a conflict of loyalty, they don’t need to go through this emotional turmoil of, do I want to live with mom, do I want to live with dad, and you pit them against each other and that’s the absolute worst thing you can do for your case. And so, I never advise that, as a guardian litem, a guardian litem is an attorney who is appointed to represent children in situations where there is either high conflict or allegations of abuse or neglect. That’s the first thing I tell both attorneys and both parents. This is now my client the children, these are now my clients do not speak to them about the case whatsoever.

Secondly, in an effort to keep your cost down put your desires on the shelf and I know -.

Carrie: What desires are you’re talking about?

Anthony Moreno: So, in today’s society in the 2019, everyone wants 50/50 custody. What that means is they want an equal say-so in decision-making for their child and they want an exact split in physical time with the children. Now equal say so is one thing, like that’s completely understandable. But an equal division and time may not always be in the best interest of your children. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think that you’re a good parent, doesn’t mean that I don’t think that you should get as much time as possible with your children.

What I’m saying is, take the children’s point of view into consideration. Because children have extracurricular activities, children participate in dance, they participate in t-ball and soccer. Take into consideration the fact that you may not be able to exercise all of that time. You may want 50% time, because you don’t want the other parent to feel like they won, but if you work see shift at Ford and you have this oddball schedule that you’re just not gonna be able to exercise it. And I’ve had plenty of clients, like well I’ll hire a nanny, I’ll just hire a nanny while I’m at work or while I’m asleep or something.

And so, I I have to tell them, the judge is not going to want your children to be with a nanny as opposed to being with their mother or their father whoever. So, that’s not, if you want to pay me to continue to fight this out and fight this out 50% custody that you’re not gonna exercise and that’s not likely gonna be awarded at trial, then why pay me. Why put my kid through college because you don’t want to feel like you lost. Nobody is gonna leave this thing feeling like they won.

Carrie: Oh, that’s so true. And I think boy that’s a misconception, because you want to feel like you won and both parties always feel like they lost.

Anthony Moreno: Correct.

Carrie: Because even giving 50%.

Anthony Moreno: I tell every single one of my clients when these things get ugly, I say you know what if you want to keep fighting, the only people who are gonna win in this situation are the attorneys. I will blatantly tell you that, that if you’re gonna continue to pay me thousands of thousands thousands and it doesn’t have to be that way. And a lot of times they’re dealing with so much emotional distress during the course of this litigation that I’m trying so desperately to reach them, telling them you’re going to feel better when this is over. Your children are going to feel better once this is over.

So, let’s get it over with let’s not fight about who’s gonna get the couch or the TV on the wall. Let’s give a little get a little and let’s get it closed. And I see that so much that children are just so different during the course of litigation. They are emotionally disrupted and my clients are emotionally disrupted. And I tell you, I promise you you’re going to feel relief once this thing is over, regardless of how much of the credit card debt you had to pay or regardless of who got more equity of whatever, you’re going to start feeling better once we’re done. And so, let’s get done.

And a lot of times we can get done for what I initially charge people, if they listen to me.

Carrie: That’s amazing and hard, it takes a lot of self-will to put your own interests aside you know in front of somebody else’s. So, if you talked a little bit about selecting the right divorce attorney, so there’s people out there now and they’re listening and they’re thinking, there’s no other way at this point we need to seek a divorce. And there’s so many options out there and you’re so overwhelmed. What should they do, like what are the first steps to selecting someone?

Do they need to do the thing like car buying our house buying were you check out a bunch of different options? Because that’s gonna cost if everybody’s charging your consultation fee.

Anthony Moreno: Sure.

Carrie: Is there anything you can do at home to you know circumvent that?

Anthony Moreno: Certainly, I mean absolutely google are friends, right. So, regardless of what search engine you use, I mean most people are online looking for you know best divorce attorneys Kansas City. Now there is certainly a way to sort of start calling people out. Now in in my world and the in the family court world, divorce child custody those kinds of cases, there aren’t that many of us. There I mean, there are just hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of defense attorneys and personal injury attorneys.

So, what in my world we like to avoid what are called a dabbler. Dabblers are people who might specialize in another area but they dabble in family law because family law cases pay upfront. Like say for instance, I know everybody sees the commercials about we don’t get paid unless you win. So, personal injury cases, everybody knows that personal injury cases it may be a year before anyone ever sees a dime the lawyer included. And so, those attorneys a lot of times they still have to keep the lights on. So, they will take a divorce case here therefore a lot cheaper than what a specialist might, and so it’s attractive to a lot of people’s like a this guy’s significantly cheaper, but not all lawyers are created equal.

Family Court is its own animal it really is and even within the boundaries of family court, there are additional specialties that are their own animal. So, my first step is when you’re googling around is you’re gonna want to visit the website of these attorneys and make sure that divorce and child custody are areas of law that they specialize in. And you can quickly see if you go to their websites and you select a practice area. If you see criminal defense, traffic, personal injury, bankruptcy, oh yeah by the way we do divorce is run the other direction just go to that go to the next page.

And you’re going to find lots of really really good family attorneys here in Kansas City who specialize only in doing what we do and that’s divorce and child custody. And you can’t be really great at all of these different areas of law. So, that’s where we start, call out the dabblers because a lot of times people think that because this person is only asking me for $1,500 upfront, that he’s doing you a favor. But all family attorneys bill by the, I can’t say all I mean I may not say all, but the majority of attorney’s period bill by the hour, right.

Carrie: Some by the minute.

Anthony Moreno: Right, some by the minute. If we bill by the hour in increments of six minutes. And so, say for instance I bill at 2:15 hour and this dabbler also bills at 2:15 hour, but I’m asking for $3500 up front, he’s only asking for $1,500 up front. We’re going to earn that money meaning we’re going to dissipate that money at the same rate. And so, while your money is going to last longer with me over the course of several months, he’s gonna burn through that inside of three to five weeks maybe. And then he’s gonna come back to you and say, I need more money, I need more money.

Carrie: And if he’s doing or she is doing all those other things, do you think and divorces at the end you may also be put on the back burner for some of these emergent situations?

Anthony Moreno: Well and then here’s the problem, attorneys are allowed to withdraw from your case if they’re not being paid. Like, if we have got a breach of contract situation where you agreed to pay me money as it was needed, and now I’ve run out of your $1500 guess what. If you don’t have the money to keep paying that lawyer, he’s gonna withdraw from your case now you don’t have your 1500, now you don’t have a lawyer and you’re on your own with an open case.

So, focus on staying away from the dabblers and get with the family attorneys who know what it’s gonna cost and who can explain to you what it’s gonna cost to get deeper into your case, and hopefully complete it.

Carrie: And and start with the end in mind.

Anthony Moreno: Right, start with the end in mind, and then you’re gonna want to circle back once you’ve called out these dabblers and you have selected a handful of these family attorney specialists, these divorce attorney specialists. Then start looking at their reviews, start looking at their reviews, google is a great place to start there’s the review sources all over the place but Google is a great place to start. And start reading literally read the reviews that people have left and listen to the experiences that they had with these folks.

And then once you feel like you’ve got a good sense of who you’d like to call, anticipate that there’s gonna be a consultation fee, give them a call, see how they sound on the phone find out how many people you had to get through to schedule an appointment and get in and meet with them.

Carrie: How accessible they are.

Anthony Moreno: Right, that’s people’s number one complain.t I mean if you hear people who despise attorneys usually it’s because you can’t get them to call you back, they don’t respond to your emails. They only let you talk to your parent the paralegal, I’ve had one attorney in town who’s got it you know 30 plus years of experience. His statement to me here recently was you don’t get to talk to the wizard, and I flat out told him I was like well you’ve got 30 years of experience, and no website you know me as a younger attorney trying to compete for business with you, that’s something that I’m offering.

We are very customer service oriented and people want to and have to speak to me right. And that’s something that I enjoy doing anyway.

Carrie: Well, and when I looked at your reviews honestly, I was shocked because it’s such an emotional thing. And when something is emotional and divorce is somewhat of a bad experience it’s just cut out to be that way. A lot of times people want to put the blame on their attorney about how things go. And that’s why I was shocked to see how many of your clients really Revere, what you’ve done for them. Because I would think it would be really hard as a divorce attorney to get that remarks.

Anthony Moreno: I you know what, I’m extremely proud of the review that we have and you know what I most proud of is, these people who have never met each other, these people who don’t know that they were respective clients of mine, have a common theme through the reviews which is he will tell you like it is he will not over promise you. He will not upsell, you he’s going to tell you what to reasonably expect out of your divorce. And I do that for a reason I do that for the one specific reason which is to keep your costs down. Because that is an attorney trick, that’s an attorney trick is to blow smoke and inflate your mind that you’re going to get an astronomical amount of allemony.

Carrie: Promised you are the mansion on the hill.

Anthony Moreno: Yeah, because the attorney gets paid whether you win or lose.

Carrie: Yeah, well that’s really great because I think that that is in that sense of integrity is in short supply. So, your reviews speak for themselves about that. The only other thing I wanted to talk about is, when you do meet with your attorney how important is chemistry like sometimes you think you want a bulldog in there for you that can drive prices up if they’re fighting every little thing. But how important is the chemistry between the attorney and the client?

Anthony Moreno: I would say that’s priority number one, that’s priority number one is we have to have a good vibe with each other. And doing this so much, I meet so many different people and have had so many positive experiences and some negative experiences that I can sort of tell if you and I are not gonna be a good fit. Actually, I do have one one-star bad review on Google and it’s from somebody that I didn’t take. It’s from somebody that I talked with over the phone and you know I just, it wasn’t we weren’t vibing.

It wasn’t a good chemistry and so therefore it’s it’s not gonna be good for you or me if you or I decide to enter into this relationship because we’re gonna be married to each other for a while. Like I said these cases on the fast side, fast side uncontested cases three to four months. So, we’re gonna be involved with each other for a while, and we need to establish that rapport and we need to build that trust.

Carrie: I have friends who’s it’s gone on for years. So, I know it’s difficult for the kids too, and obviously we’ve talked about the fact that it’s a tough decision, it’s a decision that you want to be sort of a last resort after they’ve seen a therapist and stuff like that. But I just wanted folks out there to know that if you have any questions, Anthony Marino’s website and Facebook page offers so much free information. Including frequently asked questions, including those google reviews that you cannot just look at the number of stars, but that you can read the review and tell whether or not it was one of your clients.

And I know we have so much more we could talk about, we could do a three-hour podcast. And hopefully maybe we can do that again on child custody or something like that. But all your contact information is on your website and we do appreciate all the free advice and information that you gave our listeners today, and of course they can find you on your website. And thanks for joining us, we appreciate see you guys next time.

Courts Force More People to Share Facebook Posts

More and more courts are forcing Facebook and other social media web site members to share their passwords and password-protected pages through the discovery process in litigation.

So far, this is happening most frequently in personal injury cases when the defendant hopes to discredit the plaintiff’s claims of injury or disability.

Images and messages that seemed perfectly innocent when posted, can often tell a story that could be damaging in a non-social context.

While Facebook is an attractive source of information for injury defense lawyer the potential is there in nearly all types of litigation.

Recently, a New York (See NY Times article here) judge forced divorcing spouses battling over child custody to share their Facebook passwords through their attorneys.

The only real caveat was that neither party could misuse the password by pretending to be the other.

All bid the most reckless among us have always considered It unwise to post photos or comments that might raise the eyebrow of a potential employer or disappoint a parent, but rarely do we imagine a situation where we are ordered by a court of law to give an adversary the same no-holds-barred access to our on-line activities that we give our friends.

Few people plan to become embroiled in lawsuits but, at a minimum, we should self-censor our social media posts anytime we are or may be headed toward the courts.

Also, even though planning for divorce while we’re happily married is about as romantic as negotiating a prenuptial agreement while we’re engaged, divorce does happen.

We should take care not to paper the walls of our Facebook and other social networking spaces with anything that might reflect poorly on us as partners or parents.

Not only will this ensure that we will avoid unnecessary and unexpected embarrassment at some point In the future, it will make us better people.

Family Law Attorney Anthony Moreno

DivorceChild Custody and Child Support.

Serving clients in the Kansas City Metro Area.

Contact Anthony at (816) 200-0467