Resolving child custody issues can be a contentious aspect of divorcing or parting with a co-parent. Concerns about preserving relationships with children can heighten emotions and make it difficult to have productive discussions.
Navigating the complexities of child custody may seem daunting, but a Ballwin child custody lawyer can provide crucial assistance. Our legal professionals can offer legal advice on your rights and options as a parent and fight to protect your relationship with your children. Allow a seasoned attorney from Jones Family Law Group, LLC, to serve as your legal advocate and ensure you know what to expect every step of the way.
Understanding Custody Issues
Legal jargon related to child custody can be challenging to comprehend. Our attorneys serving Ballwin could help you understand the meaning of common child custody terms to make the process less intimidating. Our team will ensure you always understand what is being discussed and its implications for you and your children.
Legal custody means decision-making authority. Missouri Revised Statutes §452.375 presumes that parents should share legal custody whenever possible and decide together on the child’s healthcare, education, religion, and other critical issues. In rare cases, a judge might award sole legal custody to one parent. Even in this case, the other parent has the right to review the child’s healthcare and educational records.
Physical custody means where the children live most of the time. Joint physical custody means the children spend considerable time living in each parent’s home—often, as close to a 50/50 split as your schedules allow. However, one of you will be the residential parent. The residential parent’s address will be the children’s official address for school registration, medical records, and other official purposes.
A Parenting Plan describes in detail how you and your co-parent will raise the children together while living separately. The Parenting Plan should be specific about the days and times the children spend with each of you, who is responsible for transportation, ground rules you and your co-parent agree to follow, and other information. A court must review a Parenting Plan to ensure it promotes the children’s best interests before approving it and making it an enforceable court order.
Custody and Visitation for Single Parents
If a child is born to unmarried parents, the mother is the child’s legal parent and the only one with custody rights if she is the only parent listed on the birth certificate. If both parents sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity, the father also gains rights as a legal parent entitled to custody.
If one parent did not sign the Acknowledgment of Paternity, the other could go to court to identify the child’s father. Sometimes the court orders a DNA test, but often, the parents agree to acknowledge paternity before a judge hears the case. Once a court establishes paternity, the father is responsible for paying child support and has the right to request custody.
As a Ballwin attorney can further explain, it is up to the judge whether a man who has had little involvement in a child’s life will gain custody and visitation rights. A judge must make every decision based on the child’s best interests. In general, courts do not deny parents the right to a relationship with their child unless there is evidence that a parent is unfit.
Cooperating on a Parenting Plan Keeps the Power in Your Hands
Judges prefer that parents make custody decisions together. A Parenting Plan you and your co-parent create reflects your schedules, beliefs, and understanding of your children and their needs. It is more likely to be workable over the long term than a plan a judge creates.
Mediation may prove extremely helpful when parents cannot cooperate well enough to make a Parenting Plan. Working with a third party is often enough to break repetitive communication patterns that prevent a couple from reaching an agreement.
Developing a Parenting Plan together could provide a solid foundation for co-parenting. Importantly, it keeps control over your relationship with your children in your hands. A Ballwin child custody attorney from Jones Family Law Group, LLC, is here to help you create a Parenting Plan that serves you and your children’s best interests.
Get In Touch With a Ballwin Child Custody Attorney Today
Developing a Parenting Plan with your co-parent can be challenging, but ensuring your children maintain their relationships with both parents is worth it.
A Ballwin child custody lawyer could explain the law concerning child custody and help you reach a suitable custody agreement. Call Jones Family Law Group, LLC today to discuss your situation with a knowledgeable attorney.