Cover Stories

helping hand: stange law firm

Kirk Stange deals with the stuff of life—not simple wills and parking tickets, but the thorny complexities of the human condition. In the offices of Stange Law Firm, the really hard work takes place—the detangling of families, the sharing-out of children. There are gentle bedside manners behind these desks, and tissues on them. “You have to have a heart,” he says of the often heartbreaking work.

The family lawyer started his firm with wife Paola in 2007 as a tiny two-person office in Clayton. Now the practice is one of the largest of its kind in Missouri and Illinois, with more than 30 attorneys spread across 11 full-time and three part-time offices around the state, and three full-time and one part-time office in Illinois. That makes sense, considering nearly one in two marriages ends in divorce and four in 10 children, according to Stange, are born out of wedlock.

Stange-Law-SS-cover-8Stange says he never imagined he would go into this particular field. He earned his undergraduate degree in history and, at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law, was taken with government and constitutional law. “But the need was great,” Stange says. “I got more and more family cases and suddenly, I was a family lawyer!” Now, 16 years on, he has clients from all walks of life and, in addition to divorce and custody, his firm deals with adoption, fertility and surrogacy, child neglect, parental abduction, spousal abuse and other family matters. “This is deep, societal stuff,” Stange says, explaining his commitment to the field. “And it feels good to help people through difficult times.”

The Stanges’ commitment to the wider St. Louis community also is strong: Kirk’s firm has provided pro bono legal services for domestic violence victims, and in 2011, his wife was recognized by the St. Louis County Circuit Court for her volunteer work with domestic violence cases. Other local charities and causes the firm supports include Woman’s Place for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, Kids Rock Cancer, Old Newsboys, Friends of Wings, Cardinal Glennon Children’s Foundation and People with Purpose, which aids adults and youth involved with the criminal justice system.

In addition to the various branches of family law, Stange also practices in mediation and collaborative divorce, where the aim is to resolve disputes peacefully and make the court process simpler. In these cases, the firm brings other experts to the table: financial advisers, psychologists, child custody professionals, etc. “The goal here is to problem-solve before things get out of hand,” he says. “But even if there’s mutual agreement, it still can be complicated when there are children, houses and money involved.” In his experience, the breakdown in communication is usually a significant factor in divorce. “Hurts build over time,” he explains. “And reasonableness is in the eye of the beholder; everyone thinks their position is right.”

When the Stanges first set up shop in Clayton those nine years ago, they were newlyweds, brought together by fate. He grew up here; she hailed from Guatemala. They met at another law firm. “For better or worse, divorce happens,” Stange says, “but I don’t recommend it!”

Pictured: Kirk and Paola Stange
Photo by: Tim Parker Photography

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements. Kirk C. Stange is responsible for this content. Pictured on the cover: Paola and Kirk Stange. For more information, call 314.963.4700 or visit stangelawfirm.com. 

Cover design by Allie Bronsky | Cover photo by Tim Parker Photography

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