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Columbia, MO Divorce and Family Law Blog

How paternity is established in Missouri

In the state of Missouri, paternity is generally established in hospitals shortly after children are born. Unmarried parents do this by voluntarily declaring paternity in documents known as Affidavits Acknowledging Paternity. When these forms have been properly completed and signed, paternity is established and the father's name is placed on the child's birth certificate. The mother's name is placed on the birth certificate even if no Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity is completed.

Parents who fail to file an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity when their children are born should contact the Bureau of Vital Records of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services for assistance. This is particularly important for single mothers as paternity must be established before courts will issue child support orders. The BVR can also help mothers to obtain orders that establish paternity.

Divorces over politics have increased

54286061_S.jpgThere are many reasons a Missouri couple may get divorced. While many marriages end because of financial difficulties or irregularities, arguments over politics may be a surprising reason for many splits, and the trend seems to have increased since the election of Donald Trump.

Researchers at a polling firm have examined the effect of political differences on marriages and relationships. They reported that 10 percent of couples who were surveyed ended their relationships due to political disagreements. Millennials had almost twice the rate of such splits at 22 percent. Many couples that did not go so far as to file for divorce or separation still reported that they were arguing much more about politics. President Trump has proved to be a polarizing force in the general population, and this trend has played out among married couples.

Ways to locate noncustodial parents

If a parent in Missouri owes child support, he or she may need to be found before a support order can be entered or enforced. Generally, the state needs to have a current address for both parents as well as the name of the noncustodial parent's employer. If a noncustodial parent has no address or employer, the state may need to use other methods to find the individual.

55003059_S.jpgIn some cases, the custodial parent will be able to provide this information to the relevant government agency. However, it may be necessary to use information from past employers, the local telephone company or the USPS. If a noncustodial parent has a criminal record, government agencies may talk to police or parole officers to get the necessary information. State agencies may use the Federal Parent Locator Service to match the data it has about a noncustodial parent with information from agencies such as the IRS or state workforce agencies.

Facilitating an amicable divorce in Missouri

53057564_S.jpgWhile divorce proceedings are often steeped in negative feelings and bitter conflict, some couples find themselves ending their marriage on a positive note. It is possible for a couple to work out the details of their separation amicably before they even file for an actual divorce.

A high-profile divorce case in point is that of "Grey's Anatomy" star Jesse Williams and his partner of 10 years. The couple was together before the actor became a star. In fact, they have been partners since Williams was a teacher on the East Coast. They have been married for just under five years and have two young children together. The actor filed for joint legal and physical custody of the children. The petition also included a request to end spousal support for the ex, who is a real estate agent.

How parental rights are terminated in Missouri

41824638_S.jpgIf a Missouri resident wishes to petition the court to have another person's parental rights terminated, a juvenile officer must be notified. The officer will look into the information provided and conduct an initial investigation. If the information does not warrant further proceedings, the individual will be notified that the petition will not be filed with the court. The person who filed then has 30 days to take further action.

If that person decides to take up the matter with a judge, that judge may decide that the information does warrant further investigation into the matter. He or she may ask that a juvenile officer investigate again or actually go through with filing the petition. The officer must generally file a petition or asked to be made a party to an already-filed petition if the child is an abandoned infant.

What a parent can do if denied visitation

27140335_S.jpgSome Missouri custodial parents might want to deny visitation to the other parent because that parent has not paid child support, because of issues with transportation or because the visitation schedule is inconvenient. They might also do so because they are concerned about the child's safety or the other parent's relationships. The child might no longer want to visit the parent.

It is important to have a legally binding custody and visitation agreement in place to protect a parent's rights. Many of these points will not be recognized by the court as valid reasons to deny visitation. For example, while there is a system that penalizes parents for not paying child support, ending visitation rights for that reason is not allowed. A parent denied visitation by the other parent should document the situation and try discussing it. It might be possible to resolve the situation by addressing the custodial parent's concerns. A parent may want to consider legal action up to and including calling the police. The parent can also file a motion with the court.

Enforcing back child support payments

67022316_S.jpgMissouri parents who are going through a divorce and requesting child support might need to file a claim to collect retroactive support. They might have to provide several pieces of evidence such as proof that they have tried to collect support and that the other parent has failed to support the child. For a father who has not paid support, the custodial parent may have to prove that he is aware of his paternity.

The noncustodial parent may then counter the claim. Ideally, this would be done with receipts to demonstrate support, but if these are unavailable, the parent might have copies of communication that show support or people who can back up the provision of support. If they have not been making regular support payments, they may have been providing other types of support such as clothing and food. A parent who has been unable to provide monetary support might be providing child care.

The QDRO and splitting retirement plans in divorce

13583508_S.jpgMissouri couples who are getting a divorce may have property they need to divide, and a retirement account might be one of those pieces of property. Before certain types of retirement accounts can be divided, a document known as a Qualified Domestic Relations Order must be prepared and signed. Attorneys who are well-versed in the legal aspects of divorce might still refer people to a certified divorce financial analyst to get a better understanding of this complex document.

The QDRO can make the transfer of funds more efficient, or it can be costly and confusing. For example, with the guidance of a financial analyst, a person who gets half of a retirement fund in the amount of $1.1 million might be able to invest $1 million in a tax-free rollover and set the remainder aside for taxes and fees.

What happens to businesses in divorces?

16521898_S.jpgWhen Missouri business owners are planning to marry, there are important reasons why they might want to consider entering into prenuptial agreements with their fiances in order to protect their business interests. If couples get divorced without agreements that address how one spouse may leave their companies, they risk losing their companies all together in their divorces.

One case that has been happening in Delaware involving the translation software company TransPerfect illustrates what can happen when couples do not have agreements in place about how their business interests will be handled in the event that they divorce. After the co-owners split up, they were unable to get along well enough to manage effectively and wound up suing each other in court. The state legislature has now intervened in order to try to save the business as it employs 3,500 people.

Common falsehoods about child custody

26782866_S.jpgThere are many misconceptions about child custody of which Missouri parents should be aware. It is important that parents who have to go to court regarding child custody issues know the facts.

One common myth is that the parent who leaves has surrendered his or her child custody rights. In reality, parents in most states actually share legal and physical custody until there is a formal court order in place that indicates otherwise. If the parent has left and his or her whereabouts are unknown, the other parent would have to file for custody and wait for the outcome to be recognized as having sole legal or physical custody.

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