Child Custody and Parenting Time Attorney in Kansas City, Missouri
Splitting child custody and parenting time is often the most difficult and contentious part of divorce. While you can regain a house or car lost to your spouse in divorce proceedings, you can never get back the time lost with your children.
As a child custody and parenting time attorney at Maria Dugan Law, I understand the sensitive nature of these issues. I know that the mere thought of spending any time away from your children can be overwhelming. That’s why I’m dedicated to working tirelessly on behalf of my clients to help them secure a custody and parenting time arrangement that reflects their children’s and family’s best interests.
I serve clients in Kansas City, Missouri, and other parts of the state, including Blue Springs, Independence, Grain Valley, and throughout the counties of Jackson, Lafayette, Clay, Platte, and Cass.
Overview of Child Custody
In Missouri, parents who get divorced or become separated can be awarded legal and physical custody, which can be either joint or sole:
Parents with legal custody rights have the legal authority to make major decisions for their children. Joint legal custody means that both parents share in decision-making regarding their children, and sole legal custody means that only one parent is responsible for making all major decisions in the child’s life.
Parents with physical custody rights have the children live with them most of the time. Joint physical custody means that children spend an equal or close to equal amount of time with each parent, and sole physical custody means that children live with only one parent.
While many parents want to have full custody, Missouri law does not use the term “full custody” in its statutes. Instead, having full custody means that one parent has sole legal and physical custody of their children.
The “Best Interests of the Child” Standard
While Missouri courts prefer that parents write up their own custody agreement, many couples are not able to work out an agreement without qualified legal assistance from a skilled child custody attorney. Sometimes, however, parents cannot come to a mutually acceptable agreement on custody, which may require court involvement. In these cases, it will be up to the judge to make a decision for the parents under the “best interests of the child” standard.
When considering what would be in the child’s best interests, courts evaluate the following factors:
Each parent’s preferences for custody.
The relationship between the child and each parent.
Each parent’s willingness to be involved in the child’s life and provide for the child’s needs.
The parents’ ability to have a meaningful relationship with the child.
Each parent’s history of domestic violence or child abuse.
Each parent’s physical and mental health.
The child’s preferences (if the child is mature enough and able to make a sound judgment).
Since courts evaluate each situation on a case-by-case basis, the outcome of a legal battle between parents can be unpredictable.
Supervised Parenting Time
In some cases, Missouri courts may also require what is known as “supervised parenting time,” which is exactly what it sounds like. Supervised parenting time, which is usually required in cases with a history of domestic violence, is when one parent is permitted to spend time with the child with another responsible adult supervising their interactions.
The supervised parent is usually responsible for the payment of the fees associated with the court-ordered supervised visitation. This arrangement is not meant to be permanent. The court may remove restrictions on visitation after a specified amount of time or after the parent fulfills specific requirements (e.g., getting treatment or rehabilitation).
Why Do You Need a Child Custody and Parenting Time Attorney?
Wondering whether you even need a lawyer? You may think your case to be straightforward but, in my experience, it’s best to consult a legal professional early on, no matter what. Below are some of the reasons to consider hiring a family law attorney when dealing with child custody issues:
Understanding the law and your rights. You may be unfamiliar with all the applicable laws pertaining to custody and parenting time in the state of Missouri. Your attorney will explain what your rights are and what laws apply to your situation so you can make informed decisions.
Reaching an agreement with the other parent. As mentioned earlier, courts prefer to have both parents work out a custody arrangement on their own. Your attorney can help you maintain a dialogue with the other parent and ensure that you reach a mutually acceptable agreement that aligns with the child’s best interests.
Representing your best interests in court. If your child custody case goes to court, it will be up to the judge to make an arrangement for you. However, it may still be possible to influence the judge’s decision. Your attorney will make arguments to the judge to demonstrate that awarding custody in your favor would be in the child’s best interests.
Keeping your emotions in check. Child custody cases are almost always fraught with uncertainty and fear, which is why most parents often cannot put their emotions aside to make rational and sound decisions. Your attorney can help ensure that your emotions do not interfere with your rational decision-making throughout the case.
Pursuing modifications. Child custody orders are not set in stone. Everyone’s circumstances can change over time, which is why parents are permitted to seek modifications to these orders when the need arises. However, courts do not grant a request for modification unless the requesting parent can show that the changes are both necessary and in the child’s best interests. An attorney can help you seek a Motion to Modify and demonstrate proof of a substantial change in circumstances.
At Maria Dugan Law, I help clients find common ground in negotiations regarding child custody and parenting time arrangements. However, if no amicable consensus can be reached, I’ll be ready to fight to protect my clients’ relationships with their children in the courtroom.
Child Custody and Parenting Time Attorney Serving
Kansas City, Missouri
Decisions regarding child custody and parenting time can be emotionally charged and highly contentious. As an attorney at Maria Dugan Law in Kansas City, Missouri, I understand how much is at stake when navigating child custody matters. However, you are not alone. I am here to fight on your behalf to protect your relationship and your time with your children. Reach out to my office today and tell me your story.