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Where you file your divorce matters

16713289_S.jpgMost people in St. Louis won't find they have much in common with the divorce of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Few people have a marital estate measured in the hundreds of millions, but there are some lessons to be learned from their filing. If you have decided to file a divorce, jurisdiction is important. Jurisdiction is the term that defines the types of cases and the geographical area where a court may hear cases.

If you and your spouse are residents of Missouri, you need to file your divorce in this state. Jolie and Pitt have homes in multiple states and if Jolie met the residency requirements in more than one, she would have had a choice when choosing a state to file a divorce. She picked California, perhaps because it is a community property state.

In a community property state, any assets acquired during the term of the marriage are likely to be divided equally between the couple. In this case, there is also likely to be prenuptial agreements. The have been together since 2004 but only married in 2014, which is likely to affect the community property.  Missouri is not a community property state, instead, it uses equitable principles to divide assets from the marriage.

However, if you do maintain two residences, say one in St. Louis and a second, winter home in Florida or in Texas on the Gulf, and your spouse met those states residency requirements, he or she could file a divorce there and Texas is a community property state.

For couples with children, there is the added complexity of the custody determination. Missouri has enacted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), which controls where jurisdiction lies for a child custody determination. Under this law, courts in the child's "home state" will decide. The home state is the state where the child and one parent resided for six months, or where the child was born if less than six months old.

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  • Saint Louis County: 120 S. Central Ave., Suite 450, Clayton, MO 63105: Clayton Office
  • West County: 16024 Manchester Rd., Suite 103, Ellisville, MO 63011: Ellisville Office
  • Jackson County: 256 NE Tudor Rd., Lee's Summit, Missouri 64086: Lee's Summit Office
  • Jefferson County: 16 Municipal Drive, Suite C, Arnold, MO 63010: Arnold Office
  • St. Charles County: 2268 Bluestone Drive, St. Charles, MO 63303: St. Charles Office
  • Franklin County: 5 S. Oak St. Union, MO 63084: Union Office
  • Lincoln County: 20 Centerline Drive, Troy, Missouri 63379: Troy Office
  • Boone County: 1506 Chapel Hill Rd., Suite H, Columbia, MO 65203: Columbia Office
  • Greene County: 901 E. St. Louis, Suite 404, Springfield, Missouri 65806: Springfield, MO Office
  • St. Clair County: 115 Lincoln Place Ct., Ste. 101, Belleville, IL 62221: Belleville Office
  • Madison County: 5 Club Centre Ct., Suite A, Edwardsville, Illinois 62025: Edwardsville Office
  • Sangamon County: 400 S. 9th St., Suite 100, Springfield, IL 62701: Springfield Office
  • McLean County: 1012 Ekstam Drive, Suite 4, Bloomington, IL 61704: Bloomington Office
  • Johnson County: 7300 West 110th Street, Suite 560, Overland Park, KS 62210: Overland Park Office
  • Sedgwick County: 2024 N. Woodlawn Street, Suite 407, Wichita, Kansas 67208: Wichita Office
  • Shawnee County: 800 SW Jackson Street, Suite 812, Topeka, Kansas 66612: Topeka Office
  • Monroe County: 116 W. Mill St., Waterloo, IL 62298 (by appt. only): Waterloo Office
  • St. Louis City: 100 S. 4th St., #549, St. Louis, MO 63102 (by appt. only): St. Louis Office
  • Jackson County: 2300 Main St., #948, Kansas City, MO 64108 (by appt. only): Kansas City Office

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