As a father, I am often confronted with the situation of defending my beloved daughter from a harmful and neglectful stepfather. Recently, she confided in me that she wanted me to be involved in her life. She wanted to meet with her stepfather on a weekly basis but was told that this could only happen if I stayed home with her. She also confided in me that she had been sexually abused by her stepfather since she was eleven years old.
Recently, after an intensive study of family law, I have concluded that unmarried fathers are often less effective in enforcing their rights in the courtroom when dealing with issues involving their child’s welfare. When a parent has custody and refuses to allow their child to see his/her father, the child is often exposed to physical or sexual abuse by that parent. If a father has visitation rights and refuses to acknowledge his paternity, his children are likely to experience neglect, physical abuse, and other detrimental effects when residing with his/her mother. Although paternity should remain a priority for an unwed father, he should not give into the whims of his ex-wife which may result in less than loving relationships with the children.
In my professional opinion, there are two main issues that will determine the ultimate outcome of a custody dispute in St. Louis. The first main issue is whether or not the child has a relationship or trust with both of the parents. If there is no trust between the parents, the courts will usually favor a joint custody arrangement. However, if the parents have established a relationship, the courts will attempt to recreate that same relationship to help the child adjust to his/her new environment. The second main issue that will determine the ultimate outcome of a St. Louis child custody agreement is what type of custody arrangements will be accepted in light of the parents’ ages.
In most cases, the younger of the two parents is more favored in a custody schedule. A child who spends more time with one parent, usually at their home, will be more likely to feel comfortable with that parent. On the other hand, if the child spends equal time with both parents, a more unbalanced custody schedule will be preferred. Therefore, co-parenting an older child can be very difficult. A good example of this situation is where a father with physical custody of his daughter will accept parenting time with his son and vice versa for the sake of their daughter’s well being.
On the other hand, there are two types of St. Louis child custody orders that exist. These types of orders include Physical and Legal. In a physical order, a mother and father are ordered to provide their children with both physical and legal protection throughout their life. For example, if a father wants to be involved in his daughter’s life and her day-to-day decisions, he must ensure the protection of her as well as the safety of his home and his family. As a result, a father who co-boards a parenting plan with his partner, or a mother and father who do not board such a plan, must abide by the requirements set forth in their parenting agreement or court order. For more information, check out www.stlouisdivorcelawyers.net/child-custody/.
A legal custody order is different from the physical custody in that a court does not have the power to make decisions for either parent. However, the courts can appoint guardians ad litem for either parent. In addition, they also can allow either parent to petition for custody directly, via court order, or allow both parents to participate in a mediation process. Mediation is designed to provide both parents with a neutral party to mediate a solution, hopefully amicably. Once the parents reach an agreement through a mediation process, a court hearing is then held to determine the custody issues. If the parents cannot agree, they will go before the courts to determine which parent has custody of the child.