Family law is an umbrella term that covers several family-related services and domestic relations. The base level of family law involves children whose parents live in separate homes. However, not all family law cases involve a child; some only involve a divorce. Some additional services we provide within the family law category include maternity, paternity testing, custody, visitation, child support, decision-making, marriage, and adoption. Regardless of the particular lawsuit, family law covers family relationships, rights, duties, and finances.
A divorce, otherwise known as a “dissolution of marriage,” is the termination of a marital union, which dissolves the legal responsibilities of marriage. Under Missouri law, all assets and debts owned or owed by either spouse are to be divided and allocated between them. Although it might sound simple in theory, this process can be difficult without legal assistance. If difficulties arise between spouses when making separation agreements, especially when involving a child or abuse, it is best to seek consultation from a divorce lawyer. Rachael Kennedy can help you reach a settlement as efficiently as possible in any divorce situation.
A modification can be used when a court order is already in place and needs to be changed. For example, terms of child support and custody agreements ordered by the court can be adjusted due to changes in circumstances. For custody changes, the circumstances could involve a parent moving to a new location, the child growing older and having different needs, an act of violence, or a custodial parent going to jail. A modification can lead to changes in child support amounts or an adjustment from primary custody to shared custody.
Mediation is when a neutral third party helps other parties solve a dispute. In many cases, a mediator is needed when parents are trying to figure out how to take care of a child from two different homes. Rachael Kennedy acts as a professional mediator for domestic relations disputes such as divorce, custody, and visitation, and can also assist with contract and civil damage cases. Using a divorce lawyer as a mediator facilitates the process in a neutral manner, making it the most efficient way to reach a settlement.
Paternity testing differs from DNA testing in that it is a legal matter. Paternity, in the eyes of the law, is the legal establishment of the father-child relationship, when the parents are not married to each other. Until there is a paternity order, that father does not have as many rights or responsibilities as a father who was married to the mother when the child was born. If a man is determined to be the father, court-ordered child support payments and visitation rights will be determined. The assistance of a family law attorney can help establish or deny paternity.
In family law cases, custody focuses on two main points – where a child lives and who has rights to the child. Missouri courts always prioritize the best interests of the child. Before going to court, Missouri courts prefer that the parents negotiate a parenting plan together (or with the help of a custody attorney) that includes a mutual custody agreement. The two kinds of custody in Missouri are legal and physical. The three types of legal and physical custody are joint, sole, and third party. Legal custody deals with decision-making rights about and for the child.
Visitation is the time allotted for parents to spend with the child based on an agreement between the parents and the court. A visitation schedule should consist of three main parts: a basic residential schedule of time the child will spend with each parent on a regular basis, a holiday schedule, and a vacation schedule based on the child’s school breaks. Missouri policies state that it is in the best interests of a child to have meaningful, frequent, and ongoing contact with both of his or her parents after dissolution, unless a relationship would cause harm to the child. With this protection against harm, a parent might be required to have supervised visitation rights.
Child support is an ongoing, periodic payment for children made by a parent after a divorce. It takes certain factors into consideration, like who will cover health insurance costs, childcare costs, and so on. Legal assistance might be needed to negotiate monetary support or custody terms for children, especially if disputes arise between parents. Rachael Kennedy can also assist in child support situations where one parent does not keep up with child support payments. In addition, modifications can be made to adjust child support plans based on changing circumstances.
Relocations occur when one of the parents wants to move the child to a different address. It is only an issue that involves a family law attorney if the child will be moved out of town. In this case, specific information on the relocation must be physically mailed to the co-parent. If the information is not sent, the court can choose to adjust the parenting plan, order the child to stay in his or her original residence, or require the relocating parent to pay the co-parent’s custody attorney fees. In addition, the parent requesting relocation has to state his or her case to a judge to prove that the relocation is in the best interest of the child.