What Can You Do If You Lose Custody In Missouri?
Custody matters in Missouri generally lean toward awarding joint custody in a divorce, with the underlying belief being that a child is best served by having frequent and easy access to both parents. Even so, parents are sometimes unable to come to agreements related to a parenting plan, leaving the court to select one parent to serve as the “residential parent,” or the location for the child to live during the school year and to receive any mail. While this is a far cry from sole custody, it can be disappointing and frustrating to the parent who is only allowed visitation with a beloved child. If you have not been assigned as the residential parent, what can you do now?
Understanding the Reasons Behind the Court’s Decision
Oftentimes these outcomes are simply a matter of having to make a decision based on what works best for the child. If your ex lives in the area where the child has previously attended school and you don’t, for example, it might make sense to keep the child there during the school year. Perhaps considering relocating could change things. If, however, the decision was based on something more pernicious—such as issues you may have related to domestic violence, substance abuse, or other issues reflecting on your parenting ability, you may have a battle on your hands.
Take Steps Now
The first thing you need to do is examine the details of how and why the court chose this outcome. You and your attorney can then work on contingency plans to turn the tables. That could include things like parenting classes, counseling, or treatment. If there are stipulations in your case, know and follow them. What you don’t want to do is argue with the court. Instead, comply with requirements so the court will have a favorable view of your actions when a re-evaluation comes up.
Improving Your Footing
Proving that you have addressed issues of concern will take time. After completing any coursework or treatment, you can request the court re-evaluate your custody situation and conduct an in-home evaluation. This means you’ll want to keep your home clean and kid-friendly, not to mention child proof if there are younger kids involved. Keep child-locks on cupboards, keep medicines and poisons out of reach, and, by all means, do not have illegal drugs or materials in your home! Be smart about decisions relating to sexual behaviors. Think twice about having the kids sleep in your bed, bathing with the kids, or walking around scantily clothed. Even though you may have no illicit intentions, ensure that your actions cannot be misconstrued by someone else. Finally, make informed decisions about who you hang around with, where you socialize, and what messages these things send. Any unscrupulous associations could be used against you, and any lax decisions could come back to bite you. Don’t take your tweens to R-rated movies, and don’t loan out your couch to an old friend who needs a place to stay if they have criminal leanings or substance abuse issues. Every single decision you make could go under a microscope—so put your kids first.
The Springfield child custody lawyers at our office understand how difficult this can be. But when the court weighs the improvements in your life, it could rethink the custody arrangement. But none of this happens overnight! While the process unfolds, continue to exercise any rights to visitation, make support payments, and avoid conflicts with your ex. Meanwhile, allow the experienced team at Courtney & Mills to help you. Contact our office for a confidential consultation today.