Virtual Coffee Break

imagesThe Virtual Coffee Break is your place on the web to read and learn more about a variety of legal topics from the comfort of your own office chair.  And we’ve kept each topic concise enough that it can be covered in the time it takes to break for coffee!

Pour yourself a cup and browse the library of short writings from us and our colleagues on a wide variety of legal topics, as well as non-legal articles of interest. While the Carson Law Firm practices family law, we have contacts in virtually every area of law imaginable. The Virtual Coffee Break is a place where we invite these attorneys to share information with you, the reader, on an interesting legal topic related to their professional focus. Not in the mood for legal talk? Don’t worry, we have other articles, too!




Summer Break Co-Parenting

Jennifer Van Luven, MSW, LCSW, CDM   Summer.  One of the most dreaded times for divorced parents as it is challenging to manage child custody arrangements.  The school year is a set parenting schedule, with designated days, times and transitions.  In the summer months, however, that set schedule is not as necessary and does not […]

Missouri is a “No Fault” State, Except …

In order for a Judge to grant a Dissolution of Marriage (formerly called a “divorce”), the Judge must find both that there is no reasonable likelihood that that marriage can be preserved and that the marriage is irretrievably broken.  In the overwhelming majority of cases, the parties agree to both points.  However, if either party […]

Adult Adoptees born in Missouri May Be Able to Access Their Original Birth Certificate

A person who was born in Missouri and then adopted now may have a way to access their original birth certificate and learn the name of their birth mother and also their biological father, if he is named on the birth certificate.  Beginning January 18, 2018, adult (18 and older) adoptees who were born in […]

The Five Documents Every Divorced Parent Must Have

A Permission to Treat: This is a simple form that allows a person who is not a parent to get medical treatment for a child.  If your child is injured and needs medical care when with someone other than a legal parent, every such person should have this form in the glovebox of their car. […]

When Does Alcohol or Recreational Drug Use Cross the Line into Substance Abuse?

By:  Kristen Carothers, MSW, LCSW   When has recreational use crossed the invisible line into substance abuse?  Do any of these professions sound familiar, either as something you say or hear from a friend, colleague or family member?  Pot is not addictive.  I only have 2 glasses of wine in the evening – how can […]

Before, During and After: Therapy and Divorce

The Importance of Professional Counseling Both Before and After the Divorce Jennifer Van Luven, MSW, LCSW, CDM Just like marriage, divorce is one of life’s toughest transitions. Even though divorce is all too common, it is often extremely painful for all of the members of the family of the divorcing parties and even members of […]

Took on too much in the divorce that you did without a layer and now you are in default on your home loan?

Did you do your own divorce to save money, take on too much debt and now you facing foreclosure?  You do have some options.  go here: 

The Separated Parents and the holidays: Some tips from a family therapist

  The New Normal:  The Holiday Season in Separate Houses By Jennifer Webbe VanLuven, MSW, LCSW, CDM   Stress and the holidays go hand in hand for most adults during the holiday season, especially divorced or separated folks with children.  There is so much to do:  visits to family, holiday school programs, gifts to be bought […]

Worried About Having Your Child Evaluated For a Specific Issue? Here are 10 things to consider

  10 Reasons Stop Avoiding Assessment of Your Child’s Academic, Behavioral or Emotional Difficulty Amy V. Maus, MSW, LCSW   Rarely do parents anticipate that their child may one day experience significant issues with their behavior (in school or otherwise) or mental health.  When these challenges arise, it can seem easier to delay or avoid […]

Supporting the Grieving Child

November is Children’s Grief Awareness Month.  Grief affects everyone at some point in their lives, and as much as we wish it is not so, children.   Think back to your first loss.  Was it a pet?  A grandparent?  A parent?  A sibling? A best friend? It is very likely that that you remember not only […]

Stressed out because your ex is not paying for her half of college and now your freshman wants to drop out? These thoughts by a therapist and mother of a college freshman might help

So, you just finished paying for your part of college and paying your lawyer for filing a contempt against your ex for not paying her half and your son,  a freshman in college three states away, calls and tells you that he wants to drop out.  Welcome to stress city! The following thoughts from a therapist with […]

Worried about how to get a conversation started with your kids?

Often, in a family, one parent has an easier time starting conversations with the kids.  After the divorce, it can  be tough for the person who is not that parent.  Here are some ides for a predictable way to get the conversation going and earn something about your kid’s day.  Warning, the parent has to participate. […]

Bullied Children have Legal Rights Against the Bully

Did you hear the one about the 9 year old boy who had an Order of Protection entered against him in Missouri that barred him from attending his elementary school until a court hearing happens? Based on media reports that the 9 year old threatened to kill other children and told them that his mother […]

Talking Parents: a less expensive way to document conversations between parents

There is a new way for parents who do live together to communicate that provides a better record for court than endless copies of e-mails that have to be read from back to front and screen shots of text messages. Talking Parents ( is essentially free (a complete record of the conversation is available […]

New Custody Law in Missouri Potentially Changes the Starting Point for Physical Custody to 50/50

Effective August 28, 2016, a new standard will be in effect in custody cases in Missouri. The following language has been added to the law: the court administrator is directed to create or approve a handbook outlining the following“ [g]uidelines as to what is to be included in a parenting plan in order to maximize […]

Ready to drop off your child at college? Are you sure?

The clothes and toiletries and room decorations are packed, but does that mean you are ready to send your child to college?  Maybe not.  a  little bit of planning now can save a lot of heartache later.  Due to the current privacy rules, unless your child has signed a HIPPA-compliant release, you will not be […]

Doing your divorce without a lawyer and need to transfer real estate?

If you are handling your divorce without a lawyer and need to transfer title to real estate, you will need to have a deed signed and filed with the Recorder of Deeds in the county where the property is located.  Most often, the transfer of real property incident to a divorce is done using a quit claim […]

Bankruptcy and Divorce: Answers to Five Commonly Asked Questions

People who are getting divorced have to face their financial situation head-on and often that causes them to think about bankruptcy.  Here are the answers to the five questions that I am asked most frequently asked by my divorce clients about bankruptcy. My wife has filed for divorce. We have a lot of debt. Neither of our […]

Thought provoking parenting advice from some big-time college coaches

The New York Times has interviewed a number of respected athletic coaches about what they think makes a child grow up to be successful:  they all agree that the drive for success must  come from the child, not the parent(s).  Read more

Is it time for a divorce?

Here is a link to an article from the New York Times about how to tell if your marriage is really over and it is time for divorce.

Concerned that you are being too soft with your college-aged children? Compared to this Tiger Mom, you probably are

Concerned that your college-aged children are living in your (their?) home this summer and not cleaning up after themselves and not expressing the proper gratitude for your provision of room and board without charge?  Perhaps it is time for a formal, legally enforceable contract between parents and children.  Read more about it at:

Important advice for divorced parents (and step-parents) from a child of divorce

This piece from the New York Times by a now grown child of divorce who grew up with two step-parents offers heartfelt advice for parents and step-parents about how to navigate potentially very troubled waters.  This should be required reading for all divorced parents. Here is the link:

Amongst all the noise about “bathroom laws” one man’s story about his son is a reminder that there are real people involved

There has been numerous stories about the feared or expected impact of so-called “bathroom laws” in the news.  This piece is one man’s story about how his adopted daughter became his son, and it offers a different perspective on the whole issue. Read the piece here:  

The e-mail that we would all like to write to the new partner of our child and some lofty goals as well

I think everyone who is no longer with the other parent of a child wants to be secure and altruistic and focus on the child, but sometimes that seems impossible.  One woman has written a letter that represents our best self and reading it reminds us that we can have lofty goals.  Read the letter […]

Some tough love from a college coach to kids seeking scholarships (and their parents)

A college coach reminds us that getting an athletic scholarship is not just about going to college for free and playing a sport you love.  read more …    

Materials from Bob Hamilton’s Presentation about Real Estate Commissioners (your guide to being one)

Presenter: Robert N. Hamilton   USE OF A COMMISSIONER IN FAMILY LAW CASES   WHAT IS A COMMISSIONER See Rule 68-01 Masters and Circuit Courts (attached). For the sale of real estate. Both in state and out of state. To divide personal property. To decide who owns said property (is it marital property or is […]

Courtroom Dog Now Available in the St. Louis County Family Court

Judge Douglas R. Beach and Leigh Joy Carson are pleased to announce the CHAMPions for Kids program through which a courtroom dog (currently Magnum) will be available to accompany a child who will be testifying or being interviewed in court in a court in a case pending in the St. Louis County Family Court. The […]

Some ideas from the University of Missouri Extension about how to ease summer visitation exchanges

The summer is often difficult for parents who are not together because children are away for a longer period of time than during the school year.  This article from the University of Missouri Extension is a good reminder of the common sense guidelines to follow in addressing summer visitation for children with the other parent.  […]

Some practical and common-sense suggestions for raising successful children

There are lots of books and blogs about how to be a successful parent raising a successful child.  For any parent who doesn’t want to read a three inch thick manual, here’s an article that you can read in a few minutes that has suggestions you can actually implement in your own life.

Before the pre-nup, here are some talking points for people getting remarried should consider discussing

When people marry and one or both of them have been married before, there are some important issues to discuss even before negotiating the pre nup. Read more …

Failure to Launch: An Expected Consequence of Helicopter Parenting

  Failure to Launch: An Expected Consequence of Helicopter Parenting   Tony Tramelli, M.A., P.L.P.C. West County Psychology Associates (314) 275-8599   Helicopter parenting is a term that describes the way many younger (20-28 year olds) parents were raised, and how many children. “Helicopter parenting” brings up images of smothering, doting, hovering, parental decision […]

The Five Things that Divorce Attorneys Must Know about Bankruptcy

  LLOYD M. NOLAN ATTORNEY AT LAW 225 SOUTH MERAMEC SUITE 512 CLAYTON, MISSOURI 63105 (314) 725-1880 FAX 725-1882 *Licensed in Missouri and Illinois     WHAT THE FAMILY LAW LAWYER NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT BANKRUPTCY     The Automatic Stay Upon the filing of a bankruptcy petition, an automatic stay is entered pursuant […]

Being a Martyr Dooms the Co-Parenting Relationship: Some tips for Successful Co-Parenting After the Break-up

  By: Jennifer Webbe Van Luven West County Psychological Associates 314-275-8599     Co-parenting following divorce or end of a relationship is probably the most difficult job you will ever do. You are not married or together anymore, but you still have to interact with your ex-spouse/partner on an almost daily basis. Don’t approach this new […]

The Post Divorce New Normal: The Holidays

  The Post Divorce New Normal: The Holidays By Jennifer Webbe VanLuven, MSW, LCSW, CDM   Stress comes with the holiday season.  There is so much to do and so many expectations.  Family to be seen, school holiday programs, gifts to be bought and wrapped and special celebrations such as Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa and New […]

Parallel Parenting: When Co-Parenting Doesn’t Work

  By: Jennifer Webbe Van Luven West County Psychological Associates 314-275-8599       In a relatively healthy divorce, parents work through feelings of anger, betrayal and loss and arrive at a place of acceptance.   Their frustrations over the other parent’s values and choices are controlled and pushed aside, making space for post-divorce life: […]

5 New Year’s Resolutions that Every Divorced or Separated Parent Should Make

1. Remember that children can only be as happy as their least happy parent. 2. Remember that the greatest gift that any parent can give is the right and the ability to love the other parent, unconditionally. 3. Remember that children listen to what you say and watch what you do. If you would be […]

How to know if you should seek therapy before filing for divorce

This is one of those situations where each person in the couple may have a different idea about what is supposed to happen. If one spouse doesn’t want the divorce, the reason for going to therapy may be to get the other spouse to reconsider. For the spouse who wants the divorce, going to therapy […]

Therapy and divorce

Thoughts from a therapist on how and when to decide what you need from a therapist when you are going through a divorce and does it matter if you are the one who decided that it was time for divorce? Hopefully, if you go to a therapist before, during, or after a divorce, you will […]

What to do when your child, who has gone to sleep-away camp for the last 4 years, adamantly refuses to go after being informed that the parents are getting divorced

I am often asked such questions. There may be one or many reasons, and it may or may not be related to the parents. Trying to avoid jumping to conclusions is the first step. When a parent or parents arrive for consultation about their child, I try to clarify what they want to gain from […]

How to grieve the divorce and then move on

No one can tell you how to grieve your divorce or if you need to grieve. Each person experiences divorce in his or her own way. So, if you are telling yourself you should be feeling this way or feeling that way – stop. One of the best ways to grieve a divorce is to […]

How to increase the chances that your family law attorney will return your calls and respond to your e-mails promptly

1. Pay your bills by return mail or e-mail. If you question a charge, pay the part of the bill with which you have no issue and write a note or an e-mail explaining your issue and proposing a resolution (the questioned item is credited wholly or in part) and the reasoning behind your request. […]

How and when to tell the school that legal proceedings are going on involving the family?

First and foremost, consult with your attorney about legal documents and information the school may need or require in your legal situation, if any. Your attorney is your first and best resource to discuss your responsibilities regarding your child and school during legal proceedings. Supporting your child’s educational needs and how that will best be […]

How to know if you should seek therapy before filing for divorce

Often, each spouse has a different idea about what he or she wants when deciding to divorce. If one spouse doesn’t want the divorce, the reason for going to therapy may be to get the other spouse to reconsider. For the spouse who wants the divorce, going to therapy may be a way to help […]

How to know if you should talk to a therapist before telling your children about the divorce

It’s difficult to know how children will respond to the news that their parents are divorcing. And, depending on the age of a child, he or she may not know what divorce means. Children often know their parents are going to part before parents actually tell them, because children make it their business to know […]

Sad because it is the first Thanksgiving without your kids? Here are some ideas to help you snap out of it

Certainly you have some time with your children on a Sunday in November. Pick one and make it a unique family holiday, complete with a family game (even young children can enjoy a rousing game of Apples-to-Apples), a trip to somewhere fun and close like a pick-your-own apples place and create a new dinner tradition […]

Don’t let the cold weather stop you from spending time outside with your child

It’s easy to take a walk in the good weather with your child: enjoying the sun on your face and the relaxed conversation on the way to the ice cream shop. But the fall and winter are also times to remember that just as John Coltrane said the real music is between the notes, the […]

Another way to keep the fees down in your divorce

When there is retirement to be divided as part of the divorce settlement, here is how you (the client) can do some of the legwork and keep costs down. There are two kinds of retirement accounts: a “defined benefit plan” (like a pension), where the employer will pay a set sum of money for a […]

How do I know if I can get the child support in my case modified (either increased or decreased)?

The starting point for a change in child support is that there must have been a change in circumstances since the last order regarding child support so as to make the terms of that order regarding child support unreasonable. These changes may be in the income of either or both parents, the circumstances of the […]

Not seeing your grandchildren? The Court may be able to help.

In Missouri, a grandparent who is not able to have visitation with a grandchild can seek assistance one of two ways. First, the grandparent may file a request in the county where the child resides and ask that a mediator be appointed to assist the parent(s) and the grandparent in reaching an agreement regarding child […]

Five ways to really make the Judge angry in your custody trial (and that’s not helpful)

Maybe this is a “thanks Captain Obvious” moment, but it is better for you if you do not do things in your custody case to make the Judge angry. What kinds of things make the Judge angry in trial? Here’s our top five: 1. Interrupt the judge when he or she is talking. Even though […]

Hesitant about having the “talk” with your 16 year old son or daughter?

In any court case to determine child support needs and obligations where the alleged father of the child is less than 18 years old, the parents of the alleged father shall be made parties to the case. If the mother is also less than 18 years old, the mother’s parents shall also be made parties […]

Divorced with kids? Here are 5 rules that you must follow

1. Never, ever, never speak negatively about the other parent. That includes not only saying negative things, but also remaining silent when the inference will be negative. You don’t have to aggressively defend the other parent, but you can be neutral or if you must be critical, comment on the choice or the behavior, not […]

5 Things You Can Do TODAY to Improve Your Credit Score After Your Divorce:

1. Make sure pull your credit report so you know where you stand. Don’t go to websites like Go see Bob Raaf at 1st Equity Funding Group— (314) 872-290 – he will pull your credit report for free. 2. Ask your parents to add you as an authorized user on their credit cards. This […]

3 Things You Can Do TODAY to Protect Your Credit Before Filing for Divorce:

1. Make sure pull your credit report so you know where you stand. Don’t go to websites like Go see Bob Raaf at 1st Equity Funding Group – (314) 872-2901 — he will pull your credit report for free. 2. Limit the damage your spouse can do to your credit score. Call your credit […]

Ex gave your cell number to debt collectors and now they are calling your Cell? TCPA Telephone Consumer Protection Act may provide some help

A lot of people think it OK for a bill collector to call you on your cell. Well, a lot of times it’s not. We interviewed attorney Patric Lester, attorney licensed in California, New York and Missouri, who explains why bill collector calls you get on your cell phone may be illegal. Q. What is […]

Worried that the parent who is to carry health insurance on the children may drop coverage? A QMCSO may help

A Qualified Medical Child Support Order (a “QMCSO”) is an Order entered by a Court pursuant to state domestic relations law (dissolution, legal separation, paternity, parentage) directing that a child who is a dependent of a participant in a group health plan (most, but not all, employer sponsored health plans are covered by this law) […]

10 Tax Issues You Should Address in a Divorce

Divorces are usually messy. One spouse is usually angry and many times both spouses are very emotional. Not the best setting for talking about taxes, but here are ten issues that will affect income taxes for years to come and addressing them now can save thousands of dollars. 1) Determining who gets the tax benefits […]

Financial Management for Single Seniors

Facts of life: most retirees will be single for some period of time, whether as a result of divorce or the death of a spouse. and most of those singles will be women. Throughout the life cycle, financial planning for singles differs from planning for couples. Obviously, there is only a single set of assets […]

A Wild Time Before Filing Bankruptcy

John and his wife, Mary, are faced with the realization that they are going to have to file bankruptcy pretty soon. They’ve been working hard and this unfortunate turn of events doesn’t seem fair. Therefore, they decide to do what they can to minimize (in their misguided minds) the unpleasant effects of filing a bankruptcy. […]

Why you should be a FOB (Friend of Bill W.) During Your Divorce

You know about Bill W., don’t you? He is the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, the support group that has probably helped millions overcome alcohol dependency. By legend, each AA meeting begins with an invocation that includes the powerful words “God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, the courage […]

Brand new commercial building after the divorce and a Tenant is not paying: now what?

So you fought for the small commercial building in the divorce and you got it. So now the tenant who has been there since before you and your (now ex-) husband bought the building has decided not to pay rent any more — do you need to hire an attorney or can you handle the […]

5 Reasons you shouldn’t date while your divorce is pending

1. Marital misconduct (yes, dating someone other than your spouse while you are married is misconduct) is a factor to be considered in determining the issues in the divorce like division of property and allocation of debt. 2. If you are spending money or your paramour, expect your bank records and your credit card statements […]

The Choice of Chapters in Bankruptcy

Many people find themselves in the unpleasant position of having to file bankruptcy due to financial reasons ranging from poor credit choices, to unforeseen medical bills, to events beyond their control. The question then becomes which chapter in bankruptcy should they file under? Individuals in the St. Louis area almost always file under chapter 7 […]

If you have been charged with a DWI, you need to be certain that your lawyer evaluates these things before negotiating a deal

There have been a lot of stories in the news about professional athletes and other wealthy people “beating a DWI.” The fact that they were not convicted doesn’t mean that they weren’t guilty, it means that their lawyer was more prepared. Even if you can’t afford a trial on the DWI charge, there are some […]

Women and their role as Financial Decision Makers

By: Leah A. Murray, J.D. According to the Family Wealth Advisors Council, both the amount of wealth controlled by women and the rate at which it is increasing are extraordinary. Women continue to increase their skills, pursue higher education and comprise nearly half of the workforce. They are more involved than ever in their households’ […]

So you’re moving out and filing for divorce: what documents should you be sure to copy?

Even though there are rules about not destroying documents around the time of a divorce and other rules about providing access to important documents during the divorcer, these rules are not always followed and it can be inconvenient and expensive – and maybe even impossible – to obtain the documents later. If you can copy […]

How do you protect both your children and your current spouse when doing estate planning after a divorce?

By: Joseph R. Burcke, Esq. The unfortunate fact is that marriage is as much an economic relationship as a romantic one. Marriage creates complex considerations for the determination of what each spouse (and their children) are entitled to receive in the event of divorce, death or disability (those deadly three “D’s”). Particularly for those who […]

House being sold in the divorce? Here are points you must consider

Is your house being sold in the divorce? Things to be certain to consider include: Things to include in divorce settlement if you are selling the house: • Agent. • Who pays for repairs/updates to get the house ready to list? • How are the proceeds divided? • Who picks the price? (Agent) • How […]


Some years are better than others and this one has been truly awful. First, the downturn in the economy caused you and your spouse to incur all sorts of personal debt and your income was reduced to the point where you just can’t meet your obligations. Then it got even worse. Your relationship with your […]

I want to change my name: what reasons might there be for the Judge to say no?

The reasons to deny a request by an adult to legally change his or her name are: \ 1. Your name has previously been legally changed. This is not an automatic denial, it is just a reason that the judge may say no. Repeated requests to change one’s name without some rational basis for doing […]

Will all of our property be divided 50/50 in the divorce?

Not necessarily. In dividing a couple’s property in a divorce (technically a dissolution of marriage), the judge must first set aside and award to each party what is called his or her separate property. “Separate property” is property that was owned by a party at the time of the marriage or acquired after the marriage […]

Will the Judge award my Grandmother’s pearls to my husband in the divorce?

The short answer is barring some extraordinary circumstance, no. In a divorce (officially a dissolution of marriage), the court must set aside to each party his or her separate property. Separate property is property that you had when you were married or property that you received after the marriage by gift or inheritance just to […]

My ex is not following the court order regarding my visitation with the children: what can I do without a lawyer?

In Missouri, there is a law that is specifically intended to be used by parents and third parties who are being denied visitation, without the assistance of a lawyer. There are forms at the courthouse that you can fill out yourself to ask the judge for help if the other parent is denying you visitation […]

So, my baby Daddy keeps the nice clothes I send my son in and sends him back in rags – what can I do?

In a word, nothing. The Judge will not be interested in a tale of woe about children’s clothes. Each parent should have a set of clothes for the child. However, that is not something the court can help you with if you have a problem. Consider sending the child in the clothes he came home […]

Why you should help your daughter make a Valentine for her Dad

– because it’s fun to get out the construction paper and paste (and you can ever go big and use glue and glitter) – because home-made is way better than store bought – because you should demonstrate to your daughter that you are respectful of her father – because it will feel good to do […]

Six things your mediator wants you to know

1. Choose your mediator carefully. It will be more efficient for you if you choose an attorney who has experience with the litigation of cases like yours. 2. If you don’t feel comfortable with the mediator, find another one. 3. Understand that the mediator is not an arbitrator or a judge: his or her job […]

A way to Address Concerns about Parenting Skills

Parents who were never married often have concerns about the other parent’s parenting ability, particularly with a preschool-aged child. Domestic Relations Services (St. Louis County) and Domestic Relations Unit (St. Louis City) simply do not have the personnel or resources to observe the interaction between parent and child. There is an alternative for parents in […]

The debt, the lien and the property: all three must be considered (and understood) in a divorce

In a divorce, the Judge must divide all of the property and allocate responsibility for the debt. If the debt was incurred to purchase the property, such as with a car loan or a home mortgage, there is often a lien against the property. What that means is that if the debt secured by the […]

Representing yourself in court (acting pro se)? Here are 5 things you must know

1. Dress appropriately. A woman doesn’t have to wear a dress or a skirt and blazer and men don’t have to wear a suit or a coat and tie, but no jeans and no t-shirts. 2. Be respectful to the person at the desk at the side of the courtroom that is probably the bailiff, […]

5 Things to think about when your child is with their other parent on Christmas morning:

There is no sugar coating it: it stinks not to be with your child on Christmas morning. So, it’s time to buck up and do the right thing. It’s time to keep your eye on the prize of helping your child have the best possible Christmas. 1 Coordinate gift giving with the other parent. You […]

Buying Your First Home After Your Divorce

So you’re done paying off the debts from your divorce and you’re ready to buy your first house. Where to start? What do you need? Here are a few pieces of common sense and little known advice. 1. Make sure you have three good, open lines of credit. Anything with a regularly paid installment should […]

Reverse mortgages can also help divorced people who have not remarried

Many custodial parents trade their interest in their spouse’s retirement so that he or she (most often it is the mother). Now that she is reaching retirement age, panic is starting to set in. Even those endless commercials about reverse mortgages always feature happy couples, reverse mortgages are also available to single people, so long […]

Doubts about the other parent’s parenting ability?

Parents often have concerns about the parenting abilities of the other parent, particularly when the parents were never married and often with preschool-aged children. Domestic Relations Services (in St. Louis County) and the Domestic Relations (St. Louis City) are simply too busy to provide the intensive observation needed to assess parenting abilities. In the St. […]

Feeling Broke Now that the Divorce is Finally Over?

Sick of advice like “don’t go to Starbucks every day” because you don’t? Or tips like “bring lunch from home every day” because that just won’t happen? Relax and remember this old adage from good old Benjamin Franklin (remember him? The guy with the key at the end of the kite string during a thunderstorm? […]

What’s the Deal with the Parenting Class for People in Custody cases in St. Louis?

In virtually every case filed in St. Louis County involving custody of children aged less than 19 years, each parent must attend the court-approved parenting class. Cases where attendance at the class is required include divorce, legal separation, paternity and modification. The class costs $50 per person, payable at the time of the class by […]

Eleven reasons to be Happy that it is Fall in St. Louis (even though it still feels like summer)

1. The Cardinals are in the hunt and play-off tickets are on sale. 2. Time to get the big wool sweaters out. 3. Pumpkin beer is here. 4. Your town published the leaf pick-up schedule. 5. Pumpkin lattes are here. 6. You’ve made reservations to fly to be with family for Thanksgiving. 7. The local […]

If you have a big sister, read this …

FRIENDS BY CHOICE By: Eleanor Marshall I talk about my sister too much. She’s twenty and magic and I can’t even make her stand still in my memory. She’s the only person who can tell me we’re on the same page about everything and I am on the same page about that too instead of […]

Thinking of Making a Significant Donation to Charity (and you don’t have an advisor on staff)

Here are five things to consider doing first: 1. See what has to say about the charity. If the charity is not listed, get information from the charity – it may be part of a larger charity, like Catholic Charities, that you can check out. 2. Ask what they will do with your donation […]

Five Rules Every Teenager Must Follow When Dealing with the Police

1. Be polite. Very polite. This is definitely the time for “yes, sir” and “no, ma’am.” 2. Don’ t brag about your mother (or your father) the lawyer or your neighbor the judge. 3. If you might have done something wrong (like letting your friend bring a fifth of Jack Daniels or a six-pack of […]

Thoughts from an Iowa Girl at Yale

Yale Daily News By Eleanor Marshall Sunday, September 8, 2013 When I was 16 years old and planting my first tomatoes, Jim Reynolds was already too old to pick or prune. But he watched me from beneath the catalpa tree, naming all the weeds as I pulled them and remembering that same blight from a […]

I’m a Dad and I’m getting divorced. I want as much time as possible with my children. Should I hire a “Father’s Rights” Lawyer?

Not for that reason alone. The whole idea of a Father’s Rights attorney is a very clever marketing ploy. Generally speaking, men have greater financial resources than women and those law firms appeal to the clients who are better able to pay. Many of the most-heavily advertised Father’s Rights firm require that a minimum retainer […]

Seven Reasons that are NOT Valid Reasons for Denying Visitation

1. The child is ill (unless the child is hospitalized or a physician has directed in writing that the child is not to go for visitation) or the visiting parent won’t giver medication or otherwise properly care for the child; 2. The child has other plans; 3. The visiting parent is behind in child support; […]

Baby Momma is spending child support on herself and not the kids – what can I do?

Realistically, so long as the children have a safe place to stay, clothes on their backs, shoes on their feet and food to eat, not much. Child support is not intended to be used just for things that are only for the child like clothing, shoes and entertainment, it is also to be a contribution […]

What to do if you are divorced and want to move with your child in Missouri

If a parent wants to change the residence of a child in Missouri, that parent needs to notice to the other parent by certified mail setting forth the following 4 things: 1. The new address or, if the exact address is not known, the City and State of the new residence; 2. The moving parent’s […]

Four Tips for Keeping the Fees Down in Your Case

1. When you meet or talk by phone with your attorney, listen and take notes. 2. Ask questions to clarify what your attorney has told you as soon as you can. It might work better for you to e-mail your attorney. That way you can draft the e-mail and come back to it to make […]

Three basic Rules Regarding the Internet When You Have a Case in Family Court

1. Change your passwords. All of them. Now. 2. Do not post on FaceBook (or Instagram or…) about your ex or your financial good fortune (exotic vacation, new car, etc.) or your new booty call buddy. 3. Don’t access your former friend’s e-mail, even if the password you have still works. Besides being illegal and […]

HSA? What is that and why should I have one?

This article was provided by Andrew Lee of First National Bank of St. Louis Health care can be expensive – we understand. At First National Bank of St. Louis we offer health savings accounts that can help. A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a tax exempt account in which funds accumulate to pay for medical […]

The Judge Appointed a Guardian ad Litem in my Divorce: What Does That Mean?

A Guardian ad Litem (“GAL”) is an attorney with special training who is appointed by the Judge to represent “the best interests of the child.” Because that description is so odd, it is often said that the GAL represents for the child or children involved. This does not mean that the court is assigning a […]

So my girlfriend is pregnant and says she is giving the baby up for adoption – what can I do?

When parents are not married at the time of the child’s birth, only the mother’s name will be on the birth certificate unless both parents agree to the father’s name being added to the birth certificate and the father and the parents sign an affidavit acknowledging paternity of the child. If there is a father […]

How do I know if I can get an annulment?

Many people describe the end of a marriage by stating “They’re getting a divorce,” or “They’re divorcing.” It’s true that divorce is the legal process by which a couple ends their marital union and addresses their shared legal duties and responsibilities. However, some couples seek to have their marriage annulled rather than get a divorce. […]


SlideShare, launched in 2006, is a new website that vastly expands and improves the ability to share information. SlideShare is the YouTube of slideshows, allowing individuals to browse and search countless uploaded slides. The website was originally intended to be used for business purposes only, but has expanded to include slideshows for entertainment. Slides can […]

So you didn’t get custody this time …

Now that the litigation is over and you did not get custody, there are things that you can do to increase your chances with a Motion to Modify seeking custody or more time with the children. The standard for a change in custody is a substantial and continuing change of circumstances since entry of the […]

Choosing an Assistant for your Elderly or Handicapped Relative

Choosing an assistant for your elderly or handicapped relative   So when you go home for the holidays, you realize that a relative needs a little (or more than a little) assistance.  Since you live out of town, you need to find help from non-family.   How to decide who to hire?   1.  Plan […]

Looking for free concerts in St. Louis?

Looking for free concerts in and around St. Louis?  This website is sort of clunky but it has the information you need.

Definitions of words used in a divorce case

When you are going through a divorce, there are a lot of words you will hear – some of them you know, some of them are vaguely familiar and some of them you have no idea what they mean.  Below is a brief glossary of some of the most commonly used words and phrases. General […]

Thrift Store Shopping!

Commitment to shop resale in 2013? Here are 5 things you should know   1. Understand the different kinds of resale outlets there are and which type is most likely to meet your needs,   Consignment stores involve the owner of an object giving it to the store to sell. As there are two parties […]

Do you have the right business insurance?

When it comes to insurance all business owners want to know, “What do I need to be protected without spending a fortune?” Most business owners know they need Commercial Property insurance, General Liability and Business Auto if their company has vehicles in its name.  However there are  some other  very important coverages that, in this […]

The Working “Retirement”

The majority of workers (56%) plan to work past age 65, including 43% who plan to work past age 70 or do not plan to retire at all, according to a survey by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. More than half (54%) plan to continue working after they retire. An AARP survey showed that […]

“Why Emotional Intelligence is as Important as Your Ability”

    As the owner of a local Staffing/Recruiting and Consulting firm, and someone who is involved from a civic/community standpoint, I spend a lot of time with senior operating and human resource leaders. To a person, they all emphatically state that people and talent are their single biggest differentiates vis-à-vis their competitors. Companies seek […]

How do you know when it is time to hire a new divorce attorney?

1.  You feel like you don’t know what is going on in your case. Like many family law attorneys, we send clients copies of everything: copies of e-mails and letters to and from other attorneys and others involved in the case, as well as pleadings (papers filed in court) filed by us or anyone else […]

Why you must tell your divorce attorney that one or more of your children were born before the marriage

It is increasingly common for children to be born to parents who are not married.  So common, in fact, that it is no longer a stigma (when is the last time you heard or read of such a child being referred to as “illegitimate” or a “bastard”?   However, different  papers need to be filed […]

So you have to testify in Court: what you need to know

1.  Make sure you heard the question before you answer it. 2.  Make sure you understood the question before you answer it. 3.  Answer the question that was actually asked, not the one that you wish had been asked or think should have been asked.  The lawyer who brought you to court will make certain […]

Need car insurance? Helpful link below

Need Auto Insurance? Now is the Time to Shop!   With almost 200 companies offering auto insurance, Missouri’s auto insurance market is at the height of competition. An informed consumer can easily take advantage of the current market and find the best coverage, rates, and lower premiums.   In order to help Missourians make the […]

Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Tips

Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em!               Texas Hold ‘Em Poker has become a very popular game in the last few years.   However, it has been around for a long time.  The basics of  the game start with two cards being dealt face down to the […]

The 9 Things You MUST Tell Your Divorce Attorney

Divorce is hard.  Whether you have been married for a very short time or many years, divorce is the end of hopes and dreams.  Divorce is expensive, emotionally and financially. Some people choose to represent themselves, and this advice is not for those brave souls.  It must be repeated here that it is often said […]

Tips for Father’s Day When You don’t Live With the Baby Daddy

1.  Encourage your child to have a good time. Unconditionally. 2. Be certain that your child at least has a card. For younger children, making a card works. For older children, make certain the child has money and a trip to the store. 3. Give the child the option to make or buy a gift. […]

Five Almost Sure Fire Ways To Lose Your Child Custody Case In St. Louis: Part Deux

1.         Move the residence of your child without giving the notice required by statute. 2.         Enroll your child in school without listing the other parent or without giving contact information for him or her. 3.         Make unilateral decisions about what is more important than the other parent’s custody time, such as depriving the other parent […]

Will Divorce Mean Deportation? The Effects of Divorce on Immigration Status

An alien may obtain U.S. permanent resident status (i.e. a green card) to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis by marrying a U.S. citizen, a lawful U.S. permanent resident or a beneficiary of an immigrant petition. The alien spouse should consider the potential effects a divorce may have on his […]

Five Gifts For A College Freshman That Won’t Break The Bank

Struggling with a holiday gift for a college freshman with tuition and fees for the second semester looming?  Here are five ideas for gifts that aren’t expensive and are sure to please. 1. Cash 2. A care package loaded with treats, with a promise of more to come 3. A gift card to the closest […]

Why Price Should Not Be Your Only Consideration When Choosing A Bankruptcy Attorney

  By Lloyd Nolan When someone makes the difficult decision to contact a Bankruptcy lawyer, they are under a great deal of financial and emotional distress.  The typical client is concerned about his or her financial resources and the costs of legal representation.  While this is a valid concern, price should not be your only […]

What is a “Fiduciary”?

  You might get investment advice from any of the following sources: • a financial planner; • a financial consultant; • a financial advisor; • an investment advisor; • an investment representative; • a stock broker; • a wealth manager; • an insurance agent; • a relative; or • a bank trust officer. Which of […]

How to Hire an Unpaid Intern

  The relationship between an intern and employer is regulated federally by the Fair Labor Standards Act and also on a state level. If an intern is considered an employee, federal law requires that they be paid at least the minimum wage, which will be $7.35 per hour in Missouri beginning in January 2013, and […]

Your Personal Inflation Rate

  When the government reports on inflation rates, the numbers can sometimes seem disconnected from everyday life.  In part that may be due to the fact that “core inflation” rates exclude volatile items, such as food and fuel, in order to present a steady picture from month to month.  Another factor is that inflation includes […]

Yoga for the mind and body

  To say that it is difficult to cope with physical and sexual abuse is an understatement.  It is one of the hardest things that any woman can do to move on from the pain of that experience.  Because of the difficulty of letting go of such a traumatic experience, it is important to use […]

The Benefits of Short-Term Therapy During a Divorce and Why You Should Do It Sooner Rather than Later

Divorce is essentially a death and should be treated as such.  Whatever resources that one would use in dealing with a death should be utilized during a divorce just as much.  While mourning, it is common for someone to look to short-term therapy to help with the process.  Therapy is also effective for dealing with the emotions that […]

Paternity Testing during Pregnancy

    In the recent past, paternity testing during pregnancy was unusual based on the invasive methods required to conduct the test. However, new testing procedures purportedly only require a blood sample from the mother and possible father, and avoid the small risk of miscarriage presented by invasive prenatal paternity testing. The new blood sample […]

Social Host Liability in Missouri

  In Missouri, if an underage guest of property that is leased, owned, or otherwise controlled by an individual (known as the “social host”) is charged with possession or consumption of alcohol, then the social host may be liable. The standard of liability is knowledge, meaning that a social host who knowingly allows or knowingly […]

Does my child have a right to an Individualized Education Program?

  Children with certain developmental or other disabilities may be eligible for a unique written educational plan called and Individualized Education Program which helps to ensure that the child is getting the best education possible. School administrators and teachers will meet with the child and parents to develop this plan, creating goals and objectives for […]

Corporal Punishment in Schools

  It may surprise some to realize that corporal punishment is legal in Missouri schools. Missouri state law allows corporal punishment, such as spanking, but it also requires that all public school boards produce a written statement on the adopted policy for discipline. So, while corporal punishment is an option, local school boards ultimately have […]


What is a guardianship? A legal guardianship is a right given to a caretaker to be responsible for the welfare of a minor or an incapacitated person, called a ward. The guardian has the ability to make decisions regarding care and custody for the ward, including decisions regarding food, health care and lodging. What is […]

Veterans’ Student Loan Relief Fund

If you are a veteran who has incurred student loans after serving in the military, a new program called “The Veterans’ Student Loan Relief Fund” may be able to help ease the burden of paying back your loans. This fund is available to veterans of all branches of the military who have served in Iraq […]

A therapist can help when …

A therapist can help when … You seem to worry about every little thing. Your spouse wants a divorce. You feel unheard. You are attracted to the same sex. You are the only one that thinks you’re fat. You can’t forget the assault. You aren’t who people thought you were. You want to adopt. You […]

Five Sure-Fire Ways To Lose Custody In St. Louis

If you really want to lose custody of your child, whether your case is a divorce, a paternity or a modification, here are five things that will almost guarantee a loss: Register your child for school and do not list the other parent’s name on the enrollment papers. Better yet, list no name or someone […]

Why buy from your local jeweler?

One of the most common questions I get when meeting new clients is why should they buy from me, an independent private jeweler rather than a chain or mall store that has locations all over the country. Don’t they buy cheaper because they are a larger company? So they can sell cheaper? Don’t they have […]

Facebook And You While Your Family Law Case Is Going On

Virtually everyone has a Facebook account. It is our way to keep up with our friends: keep them up-to-date and to stay up-to-date with them. We joyfully announce our successes and mournfully proclaim our set-backs. While it is fun to post photos of yourself on Facebook or be tagged in photos posted by others, as […]

Read before you sign (and make certain that the document says what you mean)

It is imperative that legal documents are read carefully before they are signed and presented to the Judge for approval. A Missouri physician found that out recently and his failure to read and understand will cost him more than $1.5 million. Dr. Robert Simpson agreed to pay his ex-wife maintenance for 15 years, with the […]

A Tutor Tutorial: 3 Tips For Finding The Right Fit

The decision to hire a tutor for your child can be a tough one. Budget and time considerations aside, you’ve got to find someone who will make it all worthwhile for your kid. If you’ve committed your family to the expense and time a tutor arrangement requires, you’re probably wondering how to find the right […]

Looking for Inexpensive – or even Free – office furniture or fixtures?

Everyone knows about used office furniture stores (in St. Louis, Warehouse of Fixtures is one of the best) and about, but here are two places you may not have thought to look: (formerly freecycle): this is a community bulletin board where members offer various items for free that would otherwise end up in a […]

DWI Arrest – What happens if you blow over the limit?

by Lloyd Nolan Here is an all too common scenario: an otherwise law-abiding citizen is pulled over, subjected to field-sobriety testing, and charged with DWI after testing over .08% blood alcohol content in a breath test. What should you do if you find yourself in this predicament? My practice is located in St. Louis County, […]

Some Thoughts From An Elementary School Counselor As The New School Year Begins

All children have the ability to change, adapt, and grow in their environment when given the opportunity.   Parents are their child’s first role model.   Strength and courage aren’t always measured in medals and victories. They are measured in the struggles that each child overcomes. The strongest children aren’t always the children who win; […]

Trusts Are More Than Legal Jargon – Summary of Four Common Trusts

By Lenise Major, CPA There are a variety of different types of trusts that can be used to achieve diverse financial and tax objectives. Below is a small summary of four of the more commonly discussed trusts. Trusts have always been a great planning vehicle and can even provide opportunities for you to achieve non-financial […]

Five Things To Consider When Choosing An IT Consultant

By Anthony Hakim   Selecting the right IT consultant for your small business is an extremely important decision, and it certainly shouldn’t be taken lightly. Typically, this is a person who will be entrusted with access and control of your sensitive data, systems and accounts, which your business relies upon. Some of the important factors […]

The Top 5 Ways to Deal with Debt Collectors

By Stacey L. Meinen   1. Request Verification of the Debt They are Trying to Collect If you notify the debt collector, in writing, within thirty days of their first communication with you they are required to verify the debt. 2. Keep a Written Record of Their Contacts With You We all know debt collectors […]

What is “Social Media,” and how can you use it to grow your business?

By Julie Heidbreder   If you find yourself reading this article, odds are that you have wondered, “What is social media?” The answer is that social media is the sharing of information through social technologies. Or put simply, interacting with others online via websites such as Twitter and Facebook. Twitter, Facebook and their ilk were […]

The Seven Things that Make Family Law Attorneys NOT Want to Represent You

By Nicolette Klapp, of counsel to The Carson Law Firm Unrealistic expectations Anger/bitterness (usually built through years of oppressed resentment or a cheating spouse) Talking to other people that have been through a divorce, or who offer their legal advice Drastic income discrepancies resulting in high child support and/or maintenance Drawing lines in the sand […]

Companioning the Griever

By: Mary Schrader When someone we love dies our life changes in an instant. We begin a journey we may not want to take. The grief journey can be compared to a rough roller coaster ride. When a loved one dies we grieve the loss in several ways. We realize we aren’t the same person […]

So the Client Didn’t Pay–Now What?

Despite utilizing our best efforts to avoid it, we have all been there at one time or another.  You represent a client on an hourly rate matter.  Maybe you’ve billed them regularly as to your time, maybe you haven’t and wished you had.  Maybe you’ve burned through the retainer, accounted for your time and requested […]

Why you need a Real Estate Broker

By Matt Hirsch Sr. Vice President & Director of Medical Brokerage Controlling costs and mitigating liabilities has never been more critical to ensuring the viability of your organization than it is today. One of the greatest costs to a company is its real estate occupancy costs. How do you negotiate a good deal? Have you […]

Legal Description of Property in St. Louis County

In every dissolution of marriage (divorce) action in St. Louis County, local court rules require that the legal description of real property be filed with the court. The legal description is found on the Deed or the Deed of Trust. Even the smallest error in the legal description on a deed transferring property as part […]

Paying Support For A Child You Don’t Think is Yours?

YOU MAY BE ABLE TO CHALLENGE THE ORDER TO PAY By Leigh Carson Under Missouri law, a man may file a Petition requesting a court to set aside a judgment of paternity or support.  The right to file such a Petition challenging a judgment that was entered at any time in the past arises under […]

Child Custody Evaluations: What to Expect

David B. Clark, Ph.D. Child custody evaluations frequently are ordered by courts when the attorneys and/or the judge believe that a detailed assessment of the family would be helpful in determining the child(ren)’s best interests. Child custody evaluations are ordered both in divorce and post-divorce cases. The child custody evaluator is appointed by a specific […]

Child Psychotherapy

A child psychotherapist may be helpful for children whose behavior at home is disrupting family life (due to poor anger control, communication difficulties, sadness, sibling conflicts, or sleep problems, for example); whose grades are declining or who struggle about homework; or whose friendships are unsatisfactory (due to trouble with making or keeping friends). Sometimes, but […]

You’ve Been in an Accident: 5 Reasons NOT to Talk to the Adjustor

1. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You may make a mistake, or even admit to some possible criminal wrongdoing. 2. If your attorney talks to the adjustor, nothing he says can be used in court. 3. The insurance adjustor is not your friend. He wants […]

Estate Planning

My wonderfully exocentric and very wealthy uncle once told me of his excitement at the prospect of videotaping his last will and testament so he could once again prove to family members how his money could be used to control them. He seemed happy and rather giddy about getting his affairs in order and looked […]

Top 10 Things Every Senior Should Consider

1. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This saying is timeless. Unfortunately, the fine print often exposes such offers as a bad deal. Check all the terms before you purchase an item or sign a contract. If you still feel uneasy, check with your family and friends. Taking a […]

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

Brenda Procter, M.S., state specialist & instructor, Personal Financial Planning, College of Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri Extension The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires debt collectors to treat you fairly and bans certain debt collection practices. The law does not erase any debt you actually owe. Personal, family and household debts are covered […]

Grief is Essential to Heal from a Divorce

Kris Jenkins, Human Environmental Sciences Specialist, Bates County, University of Missouri Divorce is a traumatic event. Whether you’re the person who wanted the divorce or the spouse who wanted to remain in the marriage, there’s nothing simple or painless. Likewise, couples who aren’t married but have been in a long-term, committed relationship as well as […]

Reasons for Incorporating Your Business

Authored by Peter Van Leunen The best thing that incorporating your business acccomplishes is to protect your personal assets. Incorporating or forming a Limited Liability Company (LLC) allows you to conduct business without risking your home, automobile or any of your personal savings because of business liability. By incorporating or forming an LLC you are […]

When Unmarried Dad Thinks He Is Not Dad: He Has An Option

Under Missouri law, an unmarried father can sign an Affidavit acknowledging his paternity of a child. Most often, such Affidavits are signed at the hospital shortly after the birth of a child. By law, to be a binding acknowledgement of paternity, the “father” must be given information about the effect of admitting paternity and the […]

Cut the Cost of Insuring Your Teen Driver

One in six teens is in a car accident the first year of driving. Insuring teen-age drivers is expensive, but there are things that you can do that may reduce your costs. Have the teen take a driver’s education class. Encourage your teen to keep his or her grades up – many insurers give a […]

What a Home Inspector Can Do For You When You are Selling Your House

  A home inspector is trained to identify items in a home that need either replacement or repair. A certified inspector will carefully examine the structural components of the home, including roof, windows, insulation, siding and tuckpointing, as well as the heating, cooling, plumbing and electrical systems. The home inspector’s report will give far more […]

The Power of Words

  As attorneys, we all – some of us secretly – think of ourselves as wordsmiths. While we are, as a whole, adept with words, both written and spoken, we also far too often fail to remember to use those words. Or to listen to those words. I was recently reminded of this when I […]

Why You Really Need Medpay Coverage on Your Vehicle

  Medical Payments (Medpay) is coverage under your vehicle insurance that will pay your medical bills in the event of a vehicular accident.   This pays for reasonable medical treatment from a collision, regardless of fault!   Missouri law does not require Medpay coverage in your policy; however, it is an option that you should […]

Five Tips for Parents not Living Together for the Holidays

It is not a competition. Remember that the holidays are about being with family. Do not try to give the biggest most expensive gifts or to make the most impressive dinner. If there is a court-ordered schedule, that is only if you do not agree. Do not rigidly insist on those days and times. Be […]

Seven Reasons NOT to Ignore a Notice from the Family Support Center

If you do not respond and participate in the proceedings, you may be ordered to pay too much child support. If you do not respond and be part of the proceedings, you might be ordered to carry health insurance for your child when you do not have insurance available through work. If you do not […]