Custody battles are never easy. The prospects of divorce are tough on their own, but when children are involved it can make everything that much harder, both from an emotional and legal point of view.
In Missouri, the general idea that guides the custody process is that any decision made must be in the best interest of the child. For parents, especially fathers who have not been involved in the child’s life for a long time, it may be especially difficult to gain custody.
Understanding the Law
In Missouri, there is no default parenting plan. The family judge will decide on the matter based on the case in front of them, ruling what is best for the children. There is, however, a new law that encourages a 50-50 custodial share, based on the belief that children should spend an equal amount of time with both parents, even if they are divorced.
But of course, in practice, it can be difficult to have 50-50 custody. One parent may be deemed unfit to have custody, placing the child in the care of the other parent or a legal guardian, if both parents are deemed unfit.
Custody is different from visitation rights, however. A parent may not have custody of their children, but still, have the right to visitation. Sometimes the judge will even decide how frequent these visits are, and how they can occur (supervised or unsupervised).
Things Can Change
If a parent loses their custody rights, it often has to do with their inability to care for the child. Perhaps they do not have a job to support themselves or the child or are battling an addiction. Losing custody can sometimes break families apart, and the father can lose touch with his children for a while.
However, just because the judge decided one parent is fit to care for the children does not mean this will always be the case. Things can change drastically, in which case the distant father may consider re-applying for custody.
Whether they will get it greatly depends. First, it’s important to address the issue that removed their custody rights in the first place – were they resolved/improved? The judge will again question the father’s ability to care for the child.
Then, it’s important to consider if the mother or other legal guardians should lose custody. Have they put the child in danger? Is it best for the child to be removed for their environment?
Lastly, there is the question of whether the distant father is the best person to gain custody, considering they were not part of the child’s life.
What Should You Do?
When it comes to custody battles, the smallest thing can change the course of a case. One of the best things you can do is get in touch with an experienced St. Louis divorce attorney for legal guidance.
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