How Does the Adoption Process Work in St. Louis?

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How Does the Adoption Process Work in St. Louis?

There are multiple types of adoptions and the process can vary between the different types. However, the basic adoption court process always starts with a family wanting to adopt a specific child and then filing paperwork with the St. Louis County or St. Louis City Circuit Court. The initial paperwork includes a Petition for Adoption, as well as an Affidavit of Expenses for costs incurred to go through the adoption, and some other basic filing documents. The case is then processed and the Judge is assigned to the case.

children-1160096_640 [Read more…]

The Power of a PDL Motion

25874107431_e4e4283128What is a PDL Motion?

The initialism PDL stands for “pendente lite,” latin for “temporary”.  Divorce can be a lengthy process.  Too often, spouses are left to their own devices when it comes to finances, the house, cars, and their children.  Figuring out how to divide the household while a divorce is pending can be extremely stressful for couples parting ways.  This is where a PDL can help.

A PDL motion can be filed to ask the court for temporary assistance in a divorce case. It can also apply to paternity cases as well, although the law is a bit murkier on that topic.

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Things You are Doing to Sabotage your Child Custody Battle

Child Custody

  1. Speaking Negatively about your Ex-Spouse

Divorce is emotional. Some days you may communicate effectively with your ex, and other days you can’t seem to get a single point across. Communicating and coordinating with someone during the divorce process is never easy. However, the Court expects you and your ex-spouse to be civil with one another for the sake of your children. If the Court finds out you are bad mouthing your ex to the Guardian ad Litem, on social media, or, worst of all, to your children, the Judge may doubt your ability to be a mature and responsible co-parent. Remember, social media rants may seem like an easy way to get something off of your chest, but you may regret the post if the Court comes across it.

  1. Denying the Other Parent Contact with the Children

Cutting off communication is a risky move. Unless there is a particular set of circumstances surrounding your divorce (i.e. drug addiction, abuse, neglect etc.) the Court prefers that co-parents work together to create numerous open channels of communication. If your child needs to speak to the other parent, possibly to coordinate a ride to practice or just to say hello, the child should be provided with avenues of communication. Conversely, the same belief is held if the other parent is reasonable about their communication with your children during their non-custodial time.

  1. Moving in with a Significant Other

During the divorce process, the Court stresses the importance of keeping continuity in the children’s lives wherever possible. Children already have a difficult time watching their parents split households. The Court often finds that children have an especially difficult time if a parent chooses to quickly move in with a new significant other. While finding another romantic partner eventually occurs for many parents, the Courts prefer that children not be exposed to such a dramatic lifestyle shift at the beginning of the divorce process.

There are no “tried and true” ways to definitely win a child custody battle, but there are many things you can do to improve or hurt your custody battle. Avoiding these common missteps will help alleviate some of the stresses of divorce. If you are concerned that your actions could be harming your odds in your custody battle, contact a knowledgeable divorce attorney or child custody attorney immediately.

Guardian ad Litems

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What is a Guardian ad Litem?

A Guardian ad Litem or GAL is an attorney who is appointed by the judge to look after the best interests of your child. In Missouri, Guardians complete a special set of classes and legal training in order to adequately represent your child’s needs. While a Guardian ad Litem is not appointed in every child custody case, they can be appointed if allegations of abuse or neglect are made, or if the judge deems a GAL’s presence to be necessary for other purposes. A Guardian can also be appointed at the request of one of the parties. [Read more…]

Child Custody: Who Decides?

iStock_000020005309XSmallDeciding Child Custody

Deciding child custody can be a long battle in some divorce proceedings. Many parents have concerns that, especially in families with older children, the child may get to decide where he or she would like to live. The thought of having your child choose your spouse over you can be terrifying and heartbreaking.

In the state of Missouri, unless your child is over 18, he or she does not get to make the official decision of who will have custody over them. The decision will be made by you and your spouse, or by a judge. In the case of teenage children, however, the judge will usually take the child’s testimony into consideration when making the decision on legal and physical custody. [Read more…]