Legal FAQ

Browse through our legal FAQ across family law, personal injury, and criminal defense law below.

Family Law FAQ

Learn more about our family law practice.  Need to talk with a family law attorney?  Request a free lawyer consultation.

How can I find the right attorney for my family law need?

You’ll want to interview attorneys. We offer free consultations, so clients can get a feel for their potential lawyer before they decide to hire our firm. It would be best if you also read the reviews available for the attorneys you are considering.

I am getting divorced. Do I need an attorney?

I like to use the analogy of getting stitches to answer this question. If I cut my hand, I could give myself stitches, but I would probably get a much better result if I went to the hospital to get stitches. Having an attorney on your case during your divorce will lead to better results.

What are the legal grounds for obtaining a divorce?

Kansas and Missouri are both no-fault states. That means all you have to allege is that there are irreconcilable differences between you and your spouse, which make it impossible for you to live together as married people, and therefore, there is no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved.

Who determines how assets are divided in a divorce?

Ideally, you and your partner make this determination. If you cannot agree, the Court will have to decide for you. If that is the case, the Court will likely determine how much you and your spouse have in marital assets (assets acquired during the marriage) and divide that amount equally between the two parties.

How do courts determine who gets custody of children in a divorce?

In Kansas, the courts look to K.S.A. 23-3203 when determining custody of a child. The courts will consider 11 factors in K.S.A. 23-3203 if parenting time and custody are disputed. In Missouri, the courts look to RSMo 452.375 and subsequent sections for guidance when determining the parenting time and custody of a child.

What is joint custody?

There are two types of custody, legal custody, and physical custody. Most parents share joint legal and joint physical custody. Joint legal custody means the parents will share in all major decisions about the child, including, healthcare, religion, school, etc. Joint physical custody means the parents share parenting time with the child in some way. It does not mean the parenting time has to be equal between the parties, but that one parent has some time, and the other parent has some time too.

How is child support determined in a divorce or child support case?

Child support is based on the parenting time each party has, the income of each party, health, dental, and vision insurance costs for the child/children, and the childcare costs of the child/children. The court can make adjustments to the support amount based on things like the financial circumstances of the parties, the distance between the parties, or the way the parties claim the child/children on their taxes. In Kansas and Missouri, the courts use a formula to determine the appropriate support amount.

What happens if a parent does not pay court-ordered child support?

Child support is based on the parenting time each party has, the income of each party, health, dental, and vision insurance costs for the child/children, and the childcare costs of the child/children. The court can make adjustments to the support amount based on things like the financial circumstances of the parties, the distance between the parties, or the way the parties claim the child/children on their taxes. In both Kansas and Missouri, the courts use a formal to determine the appropriate support amount.

Do grandparents have visitation rights to their grandchildren?

Both Kansas and Missouri recognize grandparent’s rights. In most cases, if a grandparent files a case for reasonable visitation with a grandchild, the grandparent can expect to pay for the parents’ legal fees. The grandparent will need to show the court that he/she had a consistent and meaningful relationship with the child and that ending that relationship would be against the child’s best interests.

Personal Injury Law FAQ

Learn more about our personal injury law practice.  Need to talk with a personal injury attorney? Request a free lawyer consultation.

What do I do after an accident?

Immediately following an accident, you should stay in your vehicle and call the police. Once the police arrive, explain what happened in detail and make sure you get a copy of the other driver’s insurance information. If you are injured, you should immediately go to an emergency room for an examination and then subsequently follow any instructions your doctor provides. From there, you will want to reach out to an attorney and determine if you have a personal injury case to pursue. In the meantime, avoid speaking with the opposing party’s insurance company.

How do I know if I have a case?

That is what we are here for. We will ask you a series of questions that should quickly determine whether or not you have a viable personal injury case. You will typically have a case if someone was acting negligently and that negligence caused you some harm.  If you wish to discuss your case, request a free lawyer consultation.

Do I have a case if I do not feel hurt?

One of the elements of a personal injury case is “damages”. You have to have some damages to proceed with a case. You can have damages even if you are not feeling hurt. Following an accident, you should report to an emergency room to be evaluated to ensure you did not suffer any injuries. Sometimes, injuries take several days to present themselves.

How long do I have to file a personal injury case?

It depends on the type of personal injury case, but for most negligence cases, you have 2 years to file in Kansas and 5 years to file in Missouri, from the date of the incident that caused the personal injury. In many cases, this would be the date, for example, you got into a car wreck.

What do I do if an insurance adjuster calls me?

Once you’ve hired an attorney, your attorney will issue a “letter of representation” to all insurance companies involved, and they will no longer be allowed to speak with you directly. Until you hire an attorney, the opposing parties’ insurance company will attempt to contact you repeatedly to get statements from you and attempt to settle the matter with you for, typically, far less than the case is really worth. I advise all my clients and potential clients to NOT speak with the insurance company about the bodily injury claim. You can work with the insurance adjusters to get any damage to your vehicle sorted out.

What damages are available in a personal injury case?

Special damages can include loss of wages, loss of future wages, medical bills, and the cost of future medical treatment.
General damages can include: pain and suffering and loss of consortium.

Punitive damages, include an award to deter or punish the defendant from acting negligently in the future.

Finally, in wrongful death cases, you can get damages for funeral and burial expenses of your lost loved one, the emotional distress of surviving family, loss of financial contributions, and loss of services/support/consortium.

What if I had a pre-existing condition?

In short, it does not matter. The “eggshell plaintiff doctrine” states that a defendant takes a plaintiff as they find them. This means if the plaintiff had a preexisting condition that made it more likely the would get a back injury after a car wreck, the defendant is on the hook for the injuries despite the preexisting condition.

What if I was partly at fault for the accident?

To have a personal injury claim, you have to show the defendant acted negligently. If you were the one driving negligently and caused the accident, you typically cannot make a claim that the other driver was the cause of the accident and therefore, you cannot win a personal injury case. You can, however, compare fault, so in Kansas, if you were 49% at fault you could still recover damages, and in Missouri even if you were 99% at fault, you could recover damages, the damages would just be reduced by your percentage of fault.

How long will it take to settle my claim?

Some claims get settled very quickly, within a month or two; others take much longer. One factor that will most heavily affect the rate at which we can settle your claim is your medical treatment. We try to wait until a plaintiff is done treating before we attempt to settle the claim.

What is a release in a settlement?

Once you settle your case, the defendant’s insurance company will ask you to sign a release in exchange for the dollar amount you’ve agreed to in order to settle the case. The release will, in short, state that you agree you cannot come back and sue the defendant for the same occurrence ever again.

How long will it take to get my check?

Once your case is settled, and you’ve signed a release with the defendant’s insurance company, the insurance company will issue payment immediately. Usually, they will mail a check to your attorney’s office. Your attorney will need to satisfy any outstanding liens and collect their fee, and then a separate check will be issued to you. This usually happens within a week of settlement.

How do I pay my medical bills until I get my settlement?

If you have personal injury protection (PIP) or med pay coverage with your own insurance company, they will cover a certain amount of your out-of-pocket medical expenses before the case is settled. If your out-of-pocket expense exceeds your PIP or med pay coverage, you can ask your provider to put a lien on your account, and you will accrue medical bills as you treat, which will be paid off from your settlement proceeds. If you are unable to use either of the above options, you will have to pay for bills out of pocket and then be reimbursed from the settlement proceeds.

How do I make up for my lost wages until I get my settlement?

If you have personal injury protection (PIP) or med pay coverage with your own insurance company, they will cover a certain amount of your lost wages.

What if the accident happened on the job?

If you get injured at work, you will typically be limited to filing your claim as a worker’s compensation claim. HR&R does not handle worker’s compensation claims, but we can get you pointed in the right direction if you give us a call.

Do I need a lawyer for a personal injury case?

Insurance adjusters will try to take advantage of people who do not have a lawyer and will offer much lower settlements than are appropriate. Having a lawyer for your personal injury case will immediately add value to your claim.

How do I pay for a lawyer in a personal injury case?

Most personal injury attorneys are paid by way of a contingency fee. This means the attorney gets paid a percentage of your total settlement and gets paid nothing if you lose or are not able to recover from the insurance company. At HRR, we charge nothing up front and the client never pays for anything associated with litigating the claim out of pocket – like the costs associated with taking a defendant’s deposition or with getting your medical records. Any expenses we pay on a client’s behalf are recouped from the proceeds of the settlement and if the client does not get a settlement, we eat those costs.

Criminal Defense Law FAQ

Learn more about our criminal defense law practice.  Need to talk with a criminal defense attorney? Request a free legal consultation.

What Should I Do After an Arrest?

If you are arrested, hire a lawyer immediately. Do not speak with the police before retaining counsel. It is imperative that you do not miss any court dates, so make a note of your next court date and hire a lawyer before that date. If you are unable to hire an attorney before your first court date, you can request a continuance to allow for more time to retain counsel. Once you retain a lawyer, they can walk you through the criminal process.

What Is the Difference Between a Felony & a Misdemeanor?

The difference between a felony and a misdemeanor involves the level of punishment that is attached to each. When you are charged with a misdemeanor, you are likely facing a fine and a conviction on your record. While you can get a prison sentence for certain misdemeanors, it will not be more than a year. A felony on the other hand is punishable by one or more years in prison. Both misdemeanors and felonies are serious and should not be taken lightly. Convictions could stay on your record forever depending on the charge.

What Should I Do if I Was Charged with a DUI?

If you are charged with a DUI, contact a lawyer quickly. You will be given a notice of a court date. It is vital that you retain a lawyer to attend court for you. We do a blanket request to receive all body cam footage, dash cam footage, police reports, etc. to determine if the police followed the procedure correctly. If they did not, we can suppress that evidence and possibly get a DUI charge dismissed. If they followed the procedure correctly, there are still legal claims we can make so that this charge doesn’t affect your future.

Do I Need an Attorney if I Plan on Pleading Guilty?

Absolutely. Prosecutors will take advantage of the fact that you are inexperienced in this field. If you are planning to plead guilty, a lawyer can get you the best deal possible. That can mean a lesser sentence or even a dismissal of charges. You should never go in front of the judge in a criminal matter without proper representation. Prosecutors are not going to give you a good deal if you represent yourself.

Is there a difference between probation and parole?

Yes, there is a difference. You get probation while you are free, and you get parole while you are in prison. Probation is given as an alternative to prison. In Missouri, probation is commonly described as ‘SIS’ (suspended imposition of sentence). This means that you were convicted of a crime, but instead of going to jail, you will have to report to a probation officer for a given amount of time. Parole is simply the process of shortening the amount of time you must spend in prison.

When I am arrested, should I speak with a police officer?

If you are arrested, hire a lawyer immediately. Do not speak with the police before retaining counsel. Even if you are being detained, you have the right to remain silent. Simply say ‘I want a lawyer’ and your lawyer can coordinate a deal or a dismissal of charges. Once you make it clear that you want a lawyer, the police can not ask further questions. Even if you are innocent, it is best practice to consult with a lawyer before talking to the police.

Will my case go to trial?

That depends on the circumstances surrounding your case including the charges, the evidence against you, and the prosecution’s willingness to negotiate. Once charges are filed and you hire a lawyer, your lawyer will begin to acquire evidence. If there is strong evidence in your favor, your lawyer will use this as leverage to get your case dismissed. If the prosecutor is not willing to drop the charges or reduce them to charges that appease the client, the trial is most likely unavoidable.

What crimes are considered domestic violence?

Domestic violence includes assaulting, threatening, or any abusive acts directed towards family or a household member. The most common domestic violence charge is domestic assault. These types of charges are categorized based on the harm that was caused (e.g. 1st degree of domestic assault). Domestic assault occurs when you attempt, cause, or place another in fear of physical injury or pain.

What type of crimes does your firm handle?

Our lawyers have experience with criminal defense cases, including DUI/DWI, traffic tickets, assault, drug charges, domestic assault, gun charges, theft/stealing, and burglary. If you have been charged with a crime, contact us for a free legal consultation.