If you do not see your kids at all because the other parent won’t let you and there is no
court order, you need to file a case in court to seek an order for parenting time. If the
State has entered a child support order against you, pay the child support even though
you are not seeing the kids.
Until you get to court and are able to establish specific times for you to see your
children, do everything you can to try to at least maintain contact with them – keep a
record of your attempts to contact the children directly or the other parent, whether
directly or through relatives, mutual friends and school. I once represented a father who
had no court-ordered time and whose other parent would not let him see his daughter
and he went to the dollar store and got some chalk and drew a birthday message on the
street in front of her house for her 6th birthday. She was delighted and the Judge was
impressed. No judge will be sympathetic to you if you just sit on your hands and blame
the other parent. Most people get at least some snail mail, so make a request to the post
office closest to their last known address to request a forwarding address. Search
Facebook and Instagram. Your children may be on Snapchat or TikTok.
Don’t feel like it is too late: the judges in St. Louis want children to have contact with
both parents as well as to get financial support from both parents but the lack of past
financial support, while frowned upon, will not prevent entry of a custody order. I have
had visitation rights granted with respect to a 16-year-old (against my client’s wishes)
and a 17-year-old (as my client wished). Of course, at that age, a court ordered
schedule is just a suggestion.
If you have a court order in St. Louis for something less than 50% of the time, if the
other parent will agree to more time for you, that’s great. In that event, the presumed
amount of child support will likely change and there is no guarantee that Family Support
Division (the State) or the courts will uphold a private agreement regarding child
support, even if the parent receiving support informs the agency that they no longer
wish for child support to be collected. If the recipient of child support has been on public
assistance such as TANF, the State will pursue reimbursement of that money from the
other parent. It is best that both the new Parenting Plan and the new child support be a
court judgment. That can be a little complicated, so hiring an attorney is best, rather
than doing it yourself.
If the other parent will not agree to a 50/50 schedule or something very close to that,
you should consult with an experienced St. Louis family law attorney to discuss your
case, because 50/50 custody is not automatic. Factors such as work hours and
distance between the two homes and distance between your home and school or
daycare may indicate otherwise.