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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.

The belief that free legal representation is only for criminal cases is also false. Individuals who have child custody issues to resolve are entitled to free representation and should request that the court appoint an attorney for them if they are unable to afford to hire their own attorney.

However, individuals are not obliged to have an attorney in order to appear in court. Parents may opt to file for custody pro se and represent themselves. The court clerk should be contacted to obtain the required paperwork, and it may be beneficial to consult with an attorney, such as at a free clinic or during a free consultation.

Another common misconception is that child custody orders are unchangeable. In truth, parents are able to appeal child custody rulings. It is strongly recommended that parents consult with an attorney to make sure their rights are property protected throughout the appeals process.

A family law attorney may provide representation during legal proceedings regarding child custody. The attorney may work to ensure that a client's rights are protected and may litigate to obtain favorable outcomes for modifications to custody and visitation schedules or relocation requests.

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