Protecting The Parent-Child Relationship in St. Louis (Clayton), Kansas City (Lee's Summit), Columbia, Springfield and Beyond
Parents play the most important role in the lives of their children. That's why, at Stange Law Firm, PC, we place a great emphasis on seeking child custody solutions that protect the parent-child relationship.
We often encourage our clients to take a proactive and common-sense approach to child custody. We help them make smart decisions that help courts find in their favor, fighting hard to get the results that our clients — and their children — can live with.
Full Service Child Custody Representation
Our child custody practice focuses on protecting the wellbeing of children and the rights of parents. We handle issues such as:
- Visitation: Often called parenting time, visitation is the amount of time a noncustodial parent spends with his or her child. We can handle a broad spectrum of visitation matters.
- Creating a parenting plan: Getting visitation rights means drafting a parenting plan that works. We can help.
- Relocation with a child: Courts have continuing jurisdiction over child custody and visitation orders. So, when a parent wants to move, it is usually necessary to get the court's permission first. Failure to do so can put your time with your child in jeopardy.
- Enforcement of orders: If a parent fails to follow a child custody order, it may be possible to take him or her to court to enforce the order.
- Contempt of court: If you are found to have repeatedly ignored a court order, you may be found in contempt of court.
- Modification of orders: When you need a court order changed, you can work with the experienced attorneys at Stange Law Firm, PC.
- Custody Issues for Nonmarried Parents: Next to divorce actions, paternity cases (custody and support cases between unmarried parents) are among the most common cases in family law.
- Parental Rights: Parents are often concerns about their parental rights, especially fathers in certain circumstances.
- Family Access Motions: If you are being denied access to your children, you may want to consider a family access motion.
- Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act: If you have jurisdictional issues involving your custody case, you will want an attorney familiar with the UCCJEA.
- Custody Evaluations: If you have a complex custody case where psychological issues or abuse may be in play, you might want to consider a child custody evaluation
- Hague Convention: If you are dealing with an international child custody dispute, and perhaps child abduction, knowing about the Hague Convention is often critical.
- Third-Party Custody: If you are not the biological parents, in certain cases all may not be lost. You might have a right to third party custody in certain situations.
- Fertility and Surrogacy : Fertility and surrogacy is a growing area of the law for those who want children.
- Transportation: In some custody cases, parties might live far apart. This can result in difficult child custody cases with transportation at issue.
Focused on the Best Interests of the Child
In matters of child custody, Missouri and Illinois law focuses on the best interests of the child. Courts look at the facts of each case and consider a series of factors, including the child's relationship with each parent, the child's home situation and, if the child is old enough, the child's wishes.
In Missouri, courts consider both physical and legal custody:
- Physical custody: Physical custody is where the child will live. Physical custody can be called joint or sole custody. If custody is roughly proportionate, most courts call it joint physical custody. Where custody is more dispassionate, one parent has sole physical custody with the other parent having temporary custody and visitation rights. In joint physical custody cases, the court selects a residential parent for school and mailing purposes.
- Legal custody: Legal custody is the power to make major decisions in the child's life. These include decisions about education, health care and religious upbringing. Courts prefer to give parents joint legal custody unless there are special circumstances, like alcoholism, drug use, the parents are unable to co-parent effectively or family violence.
To hear more on this topic, you can listen to our podcast titled: Legal Versus Physical Custody.
Please note in Illinois, however, the term "child custody" is not used. In Illinois, courts call it "allocation of parental responsibilities." Each parent is "allocated" decision-making power by Illinois courts on important decisions, including: health, religion, education and extracurricular activities. Some parents findit hard communicating well and this new rule allows parents to still both be involved in the life of their child even if communication is not effective.
The Role of the Guardian Ad Litem
At Stange Law Firm, PC, Founding Partners, Kirk and Paola Stange are trained guardians ad litem in addition to being lawyers. Their knowledge of the role of guardians ad litem is especially beneficial to clients because guardians often play a large role in deciding child custody and visitation.
Guardians ad litem are often appointed by the court when abuse or neglect is suspected, but they can also be appointed at a judge's discretion. When appointed, they conduct an in-depth investigation of the family situation and issue a report to the court. Judges take the guardian's report seriously.
For this reason, it is critical to put your best foot forward when working with a guardian ad litem. Make sure you have the right attitude both in the courtroom and outside of it. Avoid causing fights or disruptions, saying inflammatory things or engaging in name-calling. Make a positive impression by showing patience and common sense.
Serving the St. Louis Metropolitan Area, Kansas City, Columbia, Springfield and Beyond
From our webpage, you can also read articles about family law, view informational videos, seminar videos, listen to our podcast, download our mobile application or view support calculators for Missouri, Illinois and Kansas.
If you are looking to find and hire a child custody lawyer, contact us online or by phone to schedule a consultation at any of our convenient locations.