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What You Should Know in Court About Child Custody in the State of Missouri

Personal experiences with the loss of an autistic child in court custody. Know what the eight custody guidelines the judge will rule from in the state of Missouri. Know hat your attorney should present on your behalf to the court.

In 2002, I lost custody of my autistic son. Although there was ample evidence to prove abuse and showed that his Fathers lack of support for his autism would cause him harm, the judge granted him full custody. That case was rejected for an appeal and I was left to pay up to ten thousand dollars to take it to the Missouri court of appeals..

That is what this article is about. To give you insight into how the courts , judge and your attorney deals with child custody cases. First, you should contact your states appellate court decisions, reading the cases to determine what are the guidelines for a custody decision that a judge should use to render a decision.

Arming yourself with this knowledge will prepare you in knowing if your attorney is acting in your best interest.In my case, my attorney, did not allow me to present witnesses as to my character and reputation. She said that

I did not need them. The decisions were based on the fact that my attorney did not provide needed witnesses and follow the eight guidelines for the Missouri child custody laws.

The Missouri court shall determine custody in accordance with the best interests of the child. The court shall consider all relevant factors including:

  1. The wishes of the child’s parents as to custody and the proposed parenting plan submitted by both parties;
  2. The needs of the child for a frequent, continuing and meaningful relationship with both parents and the ability and willingness of parents to actively perform their functions as mother and father for the needs of the child;
  3. The interaction and interrelationship of the child with parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;
  4. Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent, continuing and meaningful contact with the other parent;
  5. The child’s adjustment to the child’s home, school, and community;
  6. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, including any history of abuse of any individuals involved. If the court finds that a pattern of domestic violence has occurred, and, if the court also finds that awarding custody to the abusive parent is in the best interest of the child, then the court shall enter written findings of fact and conclusions of law. Custody and visitation rights shall be ordered in a manner that best protects the child and any other child or children for whom the parent has custodial or visitation rights, and the parent or other family or household member who is the victim of domestic violence from any further harm;
  7. The intention of either parent to relocate the principal residence of the child; and
  8. The wishes of a child as to the child’s custodian (from section 452.375 of the Missouri Revised Statue)

In the case of the parenting plan, do not assume that your attorney has the better plan,(for there are many to choose from) and that the plan is adequate enough. Get online and do some research to compare the plans. The parenting plan should way heavily on the judges decision. Do not just accept the attorneys plan as being the best proposal. Show the child is connected with family and community; This includes but not limited to showing by having witnesses that the child is involved in school and that you are there for him. Have your family members, grandparents testify to their interaction with child, this shows the judge that the child could suffer an emotional loss if taken from them.

Show church interaction, even having the members there to testify that they enjoy the child being apart of the church. Have all witnesses there to prove the your stability and the childs interactions in the community. If there is mental disorders, counseling records, have them there, and the counselor. Any professional witness presented by you and on your behalf, should way heavily on the decision and is suppose to over ride nonprofessional witnesses. If the other parent presents say a doctor that is not specialized in the area he is testifying for, you have the right to have them give an affidavit prior to their testimony.

These rules are similar in each state, however, I am limited to the State of Missouri. Be aware that cost can rise quickly and know when the attorneys are raising these up too quickly. Your attorney can keep these cost under control very quickly with filing certain things in their power. Keep in mind, Child Custody is expensive. Time can only heal a loss of custody if you can not afford to appeal. Settling out of court may the best option, time does seem to shift things in your favor, if you can not afford to pursue an expensive custody battle, wait for the right time or try mediation to resolve any issues. Children are greatly affected by these decisions and can cause long term emotional problems for some children.

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