What Mistakes to Avoid When Preparing for a Missouri Custody Case

When going through a Missouri divorce, don’t make these common mistakes to avoid when preparing for your Missouri custody case. Look at the mistakes here.

What Can Be Used Against You in a Custody Case?

Divorce is exhausting enough, even without the added stress of worrying about children throughout the process. If you do have children, the stakes (and the stress levels) are even higher.

Regardless of how much stress you are under at this time, it’s important to act appropriately. Every action you take during or outside legal proceedings can significantly impact the outcome of your child custody battle in court.

Understanding what can be used against you in a child custody battle and avoiding these issues from the beginning can save you a lot of heartache, time, and money.

That said, the following are some factors that may be used against you in your child custody case:

  • Verbal and physical altercations

  • Rushing to start dating or introducing new partners to the children

  • Painting your ex-spouse in a negative light in front of friends and family

  • Ignoring child support payments and spousal support payments

  • Ignoring parenting time and other parental responsibilities.

  • Keeping your children from contacting your ex-spouse

  • Taking your children away from their regular activities.

Consult a divorce lawyer today to ensure you have the most optimal preparation for your upcoming child custody hearing.

How Does a Custody Case Work?

All custody cases in Missouri are governed by Missouri family law and are thus heard in a family court.

The court is required by Missouri custody laws to determine what is in the children’s best interests.

It must decide on two factors when deciding on a child’s custody case:

  1. The court must determine which parent will have the right to make significant decisions, responsibilities, and authority over the child’s health, education, and welfare. If the court finds that both parents should share these rights and responsibilities, it will determine how they are shared between the parents. Legal custody is the term used to describe this factor.
  2. The court will also decide where and with whom the child will spend their time and how the parents will divide that time between them. Physical custody is the term for this factor.

What Does the Court Consider in Child Custody Cases?

According to Missouri custody laws, the court must consider all relevant factors in determining the child’s best interest, including:

  • The child’s parents’ wishes for custody, as well as the proposed parenting plan submitted by both parties
  • The child’s desire for a frequent, ongoing, and meaningful relationship with both parents, as well as the parent’s ability and willingness to perform their roles
  • The child’s interactions and relationships with their parents, siblings, and anyone else who could have a significant impact on the child’s best interests
  • How a child adjusts to a new home, school, and community
  • The child’s mental and physical health and that of every person involved in the child’s life
  • The wishes of the child regarding their custodian
  • The intention of either parent to move the child’s primary residence
  • Which parent will likely allow the child to interact with the other parent on a regular, ongoing, and meaningful basis?
  • Whether there is any history of abuse.

How Long is a Custody Case Supposed to Last?

There’s no average length for custody battles. This is because many factors affect a custody battle. Some child custody cases are resolved in weeks, while others can take years.

You may want to “prepare for the worst and hope for the best” when anticipating how long your custody battle will last. Major disagreements over your child’s future with the other parent can significantly impact the length of your child custody battle.

You might consider a settlement if you want to avoid a lengthy time in court. Although not always possible, mediation can also help you avoid going to court and waiting for a judge’s decision.

What Should You Not Do During Child Custody Cases?

The following are some tips to secure a successful outcome to your child custody battle.


Don’t Put Your Child in Middle the Custody Case

Putting your child in the middle of a custody battle is stressful. Spare them the details and focus instead on maintaining their routine and spending quality time with them. Extracurricular sports, lessons, or other activities may help in this regard by providing distractions.


Don’t Refuse to Cooperate With the Other Parent

Not participating in a custody case could cost you legal custody of your child. If you don’t respond to the parenting plan submitted by the other parent, the court may rule against you. It is helpful to seek the counsel of a child support attorney to avoid negative outcomes for your child custody case. A lawyer will help you file relevant documents and meet all deadlines set by the court.


Don’t Lie in Court

Lying in a custody case destroys the credibility of your child custody case. Remember that witnesses can and will testify, and the judge will evaluate the circumstances of the case to confirm each parent’s claims. Lying in court could cost you your entire child custody case.


Avoid Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is a significant custody issue, showing that a parent is unfit. When you’re affected by drugs or alcohol, you can’t be the parent your child needs. This is especially so if you have an addiction. Show the court you can parent responsibly by appearing with a clear head.


Don’t Deny Your Child from Having Contact With the Other Parent

Withholding your child from your former spouse is a big mistake. Denying the other parent reasonable contact with the child without any safety concerns reflects poorly on you. The court prefers to keep both parents in a child’s life and wants to see you encourage a positive relationship with your former spouse.


Don’t Start Dating Immediately

Introducing new partners to your child is a common mistake during a divorce proceeding. A new partner could cause confusion and anger for your child. The court may want to examine the impact of having a new partner in your child’s life. If the court finds that your new partner may have a negative impact on your child’s life, it could cost you your custody battle.


Don’t Demand a Trial Before Alternative Dispute Resolution

A trial should be a last resort after other resolution attempts fail. Stay in charge of parenting decisions by negotiating and entering into mediation with the other parent. Try alternative dispute resolution if you can’t resolve your differences alone.


Be Prepared for Court

Custody battles require preparation. You will need to testify in court, propose a parenting plan, and present evidence. You may need a child custody lawyer in Clayton, MO, to help with your preparation. Most child custody case lawyers offer free consultation in this regard.


Don’t Overlook Proof

You must keep track of evidence to win a custody battle. Any lawyer will tell you to document interactions with your child or former spouse.


Child Custody Case Tips

In addition to the above, the following are some additional tips:

  • Comply with your co-parenting plan
  • Respect the visitation rights of your ex-spouse
  • Obey any court orders
  • Behave yourself while in court.

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