Carson Law Firm: The Divorce Lawyer Clayton, MO TrustsAt The Carson Law Firm, we know how much family matters. If you’re dealing with an issue related to divorce, child custody, adoption, child support, or related family law issues, Leigh Joy Carson is the Clayton, Missouri divorce attorney you want on your side. Contact Us
Our Divorce Attorneys in Clayton, MO Have What It Takes to Advocate For Your Family
“If you’re gonna play in the major leagues, you’d better learn how to hit a fast ball.”
As a young attorney, new to family law practice, attorney Leigh Joy Carson was given that advice by a senior partner. In the more than three decades since as a divorce attorney in Clayton, Missouri, she has followed it.
The Carson Law Firm does family law – divorce, modification, custody, support – we don’t do wills, collections, or criminal defense.
Just because there are forms for “do it yourself divorce” at the courthouse it doesn’t mean that you should use them. And just because there is a form for figuring the presumed amount of child support available on the internet, that number is not necessarily appropriate in your case.
After all, just because your vehicle manual is available on the internet doesn’t mean that you should fix your own airbags. Ted Williams was perhaps the greatest hitter ever to play the game, but a marginal manager.
Divorce Lawyers in Clayton, MO Who Put Families First
If you are in need of a reliable divorce attorney in Clayton, Missouri, The Carson Law Firm, Family Law Attorneys will provide you with the vigorous representation you need to ensure the best possible outcome. We know that divorce is often a painful process and we take an empathetic approach to help our clients through this difficult time.
Our firm has over thirty years of combined experience in St. Louis MO in divorce and other family law matters. We are licensed in Missouri and practice in St. Louis County and the city of St. Louis.
Our St. Louis family attorneys are experienced, knowledgeable, and trusting. We refuse to “tell you what you want to hear” simply to obtain or keep your business. Instead, we work closely with our clients to understand their goals and help them understand the best options for reaching them.
The decisions you make during the Missouri divorce process can have an impact on the rest of your life, so if you are in the St. Louis area and dealing with a divorce or other family law issue, contact us today for a consultation. We can provide you with important information on your family law matter either through video, phone, or at our Clayton, Missouri office location.
The Basics of St. Louis County Divorce
Missouri, like many states, has “no-fault divorce.” This means that you do not have to prove abuse, neglect, adultery, or any other similar circumstance in order to obtain a divorce. In fact, the basis for Missouri divorce is that the marriage is irretrievably broken, and there’s no reasonable likelihood that it could be preserved.
This does not necessarily mean that your divorce will be simple, however. One of the most pressing issues when going through a St. Louis County divorce is the division of property and assets. Missouri is what is known as a “dual-property state,” which means that a couple’s assets are divided into “marital property” and “non-marital property” under the law.
How Marital & Non-Marital Property Are Divided
Marital property refers to any property acquired by either spouse during marriage. Under Missouri law, all property is presumed to be marital property unless one of the spouses can prove otherwise. Generally, the court only has jurisdiction to divide property that is deemed marital.
Non-marital property simply refers to everything that does not fall under the umbrella of marital property. Some of the most contentious items falling under the category of the non-marital property include things that one spouse owned outright prior to marriage. However, non-marital property can, in some cases, include items obtained during the marriage.
For example, if one spouse inherits property from a family member during the course of the marriage, that is considered non-marital property and the court does not have jurisdiction to redistribute it as a result of the divorce. In addition, gifts (even from one spouse to the other) are always considered the separate property of the person receiving the gift.
If spouses undergo a legal separation, property acquired after the date of separation will be considered non-marital. Remember, separation is a legal concept, it does not refer to spouses who simply choose to begin living apart from one another.
Finally, what is marital property and what is non-marital property can be affected by a prenuptial agreement. Some couples choose to declare what are and are not their separate properties by entering into a legal agreement prior to marrying.
How a St. Louis County Divorce Attorney Can Help
Our firm has extensive experience litigating property and property division, child support, and custody issues that arise during divorce. We know that each client is different and each case is different, so we do not take a “one-size-fits-all” approach to divorce or any of our other practice areas.
Unfortunately, many other divorce lawyers use this tactic to maximize the number of cases they can handle and therefore the amount of money they can make. We are different. Families have been trusting our expertise for years, so if you need a family law attorney or divorce law attorney in St. Louis or a nearby zip code, look no further than The Carson Law Firm.
Primary Practice Areas
Child Support Attorneys in Clayton, Missouri
Resolving issues related to child support is a vital part of many Clayton divorce cases. Although do-it-yourself child support “calculators” and other such tools exist, an experienced child support attorney in Clayton, Missouri knows that such a generic approach is often inappropriate.
Even once the court has ordered a given amount of child support, it can be modified in several ways. The easiest way to modify child support is through the agreement of the parties. Otherwise, the parent requesting the modification generally bears the burden of proving that there has been a significant change in circumstances warranting a change in the amount of child support.
Courts in Missouri consider several factors when determining the initial amount of child support and when determining whether a modification is appropriate:
- The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved
- The financial needs and resources of the child
- The financial needs and resources of the parents
- The child’s educational, emotional, and physical needs
- The reasonable work-related child care expenses of each parent
- The child’s physical and legal custody arrangements
Consult a Trusted St. Louis, MO Family Law Attorney for Your Family’s Child Support Needs
As with all matters relating to family law, the best interest of the child is the factor that the court weighs most heavily in determining the appropriate amount of child support. The Carson Law Firm, Family Law Attorneys has the knowledge and resources you need to ensure that your child support issues are addressed to maximize the benefit to you and your child.
Leigh Joy Carson
Family Law Attorney
Leigh Joy Carson
Clients often choose Leigh Joy Carson as their family lawyer because of her reputation as an aggressive, experienced attorney who cares for her clients. Her approach also guides The Carson Law Firm, whose lawyers are committed to giving their clients sound legal advice rather than simply telling them what they would like to hear.
Carson explains, “Once clients know where they stand in the legal system, they can make informed decisions that allow them to move forward in life.”
Carson, a Chicago native, decided while attending the Saint Louis University School of Law that St. Louis was the place she’d like to call home. In 1986, after graduating, Carson accepted a prestigious clerkship with Judge Carl R. Gaertner of the Eastern District of the Missouri Court of Appeals.
“Judge Gaertner was an extraordinary jurist,” Carson recalls. “One of the most important lessons I learning during my two-year clerkship is that the law isn’t just about legal arguments — decisions affect people’s lives.”
After her clerkship ended, Carson joined Bryan Cave, the largest law firm in St. Louis, as an associate. There, she says, “they teach you how to provide clients excellent legal representation.”
Having laid down a strong foundation early in her legal career, Carson moved to Love Lacks & Paule, a boutique firm with a strong family law practice. Once exposed to the practice area of family law — her first such case involved registering a divorce in St. Louis that had been obtained in Japan — Carson knew that it was the field for her.
But Carson had inherited a strong entrepreneurial streak , and in 1995 she established her own firm in Clayton. In the 16 years since she has enjoyed a thriving practice, representing spouses and parents, as well as numerous children through guardian ad litem appointments.
Those varied legal experiences on all sides of family law cases give her clients a distinct advantage. “I understand the strengths and weaknesses of my client’s case,” Carson says. “Using that knowledge, I can guide them to the best outcome possible.”
In addition, her firm’s focus on family law matters — divorce, child support, child custody, adoptions, guardianships and other domestic matters — require Carson to be well versed in established law and on top of the latest decisions coming out of the Missouri courts and aware of new statutes being passed by the Missouri Legislature. Clients can relax in the knowledge that this is not someone who is just learning the law.
To promote her practice and give back to the profession, Carson regularly shares her experience at legal seminars and conferences for lawyers and judges. Her guest articles have appeared in numerous publications.
Carson is proud of her firm’s reputation for excellence. “After 20 years of practice focused primarily on family law, I know how to help my clients think their way out of a problem. I often meet people during some of the worst times of their lives and help them move ahead.”
Saint Louis University School of Law, juris doctor, cum laude, 1986
Ripon College, bachelor of arts, cum laude, 1983
Carson has spoken at continuing legal education seminars sponsored by:
University of Missouri–Kansas City
University of Missouri–Columbia
Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis
National Business Institute
Land of Lincoln Bar Foundation
Volunteer and Board Memberships
- Caring for Kids, past board member
St. Louis County courthouse accessibility ad hoc committee
Kids in the Middle, past board member
Friends of Heritage House, past board member
- Ellisville Parks Board, past member
Client Relations Manager
Location: St Louis
In the years she has worked at The Carson Law Firm, Client Relations Manager Pam Ohlendorf has been a beacon for clients and attorneys.
“When the attorneys are in court, I am here,” Ohlendorf notes. Interacting substantially with both the legal and personal elements of each case, Ohlendorf is an essential resource for clients.
A native St. Louisan, Ohlendorf attended high school at the Cor Jesu Academy. She went on to earn a degree in criminal justice from Saint Louis University.
After earning her degree, Ohlendorf worked for a variety of law firms in the St. Louis area, finishing off at Lewis & Rice, LC before leaving the workforce to raise her three children.
In 2009, Ohlendorf returned to the workforce with her debut at The Carson Law Firm. In this time, she has used her organizational savvy and efficiency to streamline the work of the attorneys, and to accelerate the satisfaction of the client’s needs.
- Saint Louis University, B.S. 1991
Prior Work History
- · Lewis, Rice & Fingersh
- · Morris & Levy
- · Roges, Howell & Haferkamp
Child Custody and Divorce Lawyers in Clayton, Missouri
Child custody is another important aspect of the Missouri divorce process. Once a child custody arrangement has been ordered by the court, it can always be modified. If you and your child’s other parent were never married, the standards under the law for both child custody and child support are the same as if you had been married – so don’t worry, you are still able to pursue a custody arrangement that works for you.
Like with child support awards, the easiest way to modify a child custody arrangement is through the agreement of the parties. However, in many cases, former spouses may disagree about whether a modification is warranted.
Under Missouri law, there are four requirements for the modification of a child custody arrangement:
- There must have been a substantial change in the circumstances of one or more of the child’s parents that is ongoing.
- The change (or changes) must render the original order unreasonable.
- The court must have jurisdiction under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (abbreviated as UCCJEA).
- It must be in the child’s best interest that the existing custody arrangement be modified.
The Carson Law Firm is a firm that you can trust with important matters related to modifying child custody arrangements. Located in the city of Clayton just outside of St. Louis, MO, we have what it takes to get the results your family needs. Contact us today for a consultation and begin moving forward.
From Our Clients
We care about our clients, and do not see them as “cases.” We invite you to read some of the testimonials we have received from our clients.
“Carson Law Firm was trustworthy, knowledgeable, efficient and caring. They were very responsive to all of my many questions. This was an extremely stressful situation and they eased my worries every step of the way. I am truly grateful.
Choose this firm if you want to deal with fair and compassionate legal experts that will advocate for you.”
“Leigh and Pam helped me through a very hard time while reassuring me along the way that everything would work out in the end. They were empathetic with my situation and showed that they cared about me and my children. Thank you both for you time, energy and compassion.”
“Leigh and her assistant Pam , listened to my concerns and helped keep me calm during a difficult time. Everything was explained to me and they were always able to answer my questions. Leigh was always honest (blunt) and straight to the point which I appreciated. No One ever wants to see a divorce lawyer, but the Carson law firm helped me a great deal. Thank you!”
“You may hear great things about other attorneys and firms, but know who you will actually be working with. When I first met with Leigh, I knew I would be working with her instead of being handed off to a junior attorney. This really felt like a partnership from the start and I am glad I put my trust in her.”
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