I get asked many questions concerning visitation, overnight stays and custody. In the state of Missouri, my practice focuses on the Father Parent. I believe that Fathers often carry an unequal burden perpetuated by old laws, social biases and extremely difficult mothers. I have seen fathers become drained from excessive child support thus making it impossible to afford a lawyer. Though I have Mother clients, I stand for justice in every aspect of the law and I believe Fathers are a class of people who the law does not equally work for. This article will hopefully shed some light on a Fathers already existing rights as a parent, and some steps to take to get more as a pro-se person in the state of Missouri.
Paternity must be established in order to pursue your custody rights. Paternity is established in 3 ways:
- Paternity is acknowledged by both parties and father’s name appears on the birth certificate of each child in question.
- An administrative order was entered that determined paternity for each child listed in the judgment.
- Father and Mother were married at the time of the birth of each child listed in the judgment and there are no other existing custody judgments.
***One important fact to note is that a Father automatically has joint physical and legal custody of his child at the time of birth if he signed the birth certificate or is married to the mother at that time. If a Father has not gone through legal proceedings to establish custody or a visitation schedule, then he may have as much time with the child as he so pleases and it is not kidnapping.
In any proceeding involving a child the state of Missouri (most states) determine what is in the best interest of the child. This test includes factors such as; health and safety, emotional needs, Co-parenting skills, Etc.
Form CAFC201- Petition for child custody is available through the Missouri Court website [www.courts.mo.gov/file/CAFC201-custodypetition-v14.pdf]. This website also makes available any other family law petition anticipated in litigation.
Now that you have the tools to make prayer for joint custody, you must know the things that can interfere or all together prevent you from exercising your right as a parent;
RSMO 452.375.3(1) (a-g) and (2) gives a complete list of crimes where the child is a victim that will prevent one from establishing custody.
This article provides resources to better navigate and understand the legalities of parental rights. However, what I really wish to impart to the reader is the importance of co-parenting. I have witnessed first hand the influence co-parenting or the lack there-of can have over the child. As parents, it is your duty and obligation to keep your child’s safety and health (mental) at the fore front of every decision. There are options such as parenting plans that a Mother and Father can come up with together that can cover everything; visitation, custody and child support, even down to the hour of tv time. Give your children the best opportunity at a healthy and happy life.
Contact #NubyLaw to serve your family!