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St. Louis MO Custody and Visitation Law Blog

Famous athlete in legal trouble for failing to pay child support

The ex-wife of the famous Harlem Globetrotters basketball player, Meadowlark Lemon, has filed a lawsuit against him, alleging that he failed to pay child support. Missouri readers may be interested to know that the basketball player is 83 years old, and the son which he reportedly failed to financially support is now 48. The son and his mother are seeking $250,000 in missed child support payments.

Meadowlark Lemon and his ex-wife divorced in 1977. She claims that he left her with overwhelming debt and meager financial means. The lawsuit states that the basketball star never complied with the original terms of their divorce, but it is not clear what those terms required. The son claims that the mother's post-divorce financial troubles are to blame for a series of misfortunes in his own life. 

Child custody fight pits parents against the state

In most Missouri custody fights, the parties include two parents who have decided to divorce and are at odds over the care and custody of their shared children. However, cases come before family courts in Missouri and elsewhere that do not follow this predictable pattern. An example lies in an unusual child custody case that has sparked a great deal of debate across the nation.

The case centers on a 19-month-old child who is failing to develop at a normal rate. The child's parents have taken their son to a number of doctors to try and determine the cause of the problem, but no diagnosis has been reached thus far other than a failure to thrive. Despite the family's concerns over the matter, the state in which they reside made the decision to remove the child from their care, alleging that he is the victim of medical neglect.

Divorce issues and how they may impact child custody

Missouri residents who are facing a potentially long and complex divorce may be wondering if it is possible to avoid costly litigation. Divorcing couples may find it useful to consider what factors led to their divorce, which may foster better communication between parties. A willingness to communicate and negotiate may help couples keep child custody and property division matters out of court.

Certain predictors may actually indicate if a couple is more likely to divorce. Younger couples with less education have a higher divorce rate, as do couples who have shorter engagements. Rushing to marriage may prevent a couple from taking protective steps, such as drafting prenuptial agreements and working through issues that can complicate a marriage. It is also said that couples with children from previous relationships have a higher divorce rate, perhaps as high as 60 percent. 

Visitation issues: resolving disputes between spouses

The decisions that are made during a divorce will impact a family for years, even decades, to come. Children are emotionally affected by their parents' divorce, even if the two parties are amicable and willing to work together to resolve custody and visitation issues. Since the best interests of the children are most important, parents may find it beneficial to work with a lawyer who understands the sensitive nature of custody arrangements.

A custody arrangement should reflect both parental rights and the needs of the children. Visitation schedules should allow the children adequate time with both parents as this can be beneficial for their emotional well being. If Missouri parents cannot reach a satisfactory arrangement outside of court, litigation may be the only way to reach a resolution.

Do grandparents have legal rights to custody in Missouri?

After parents divorce, it can change the dynamic of the entire family, affecting grandparents and other family members. In particularly complex situations, grandparents could be denied visitation with their grandchildren, even if there is no reason for preventing contact. When complicated family situations arise, it is useful to understand the legal rights of grandparents in Missouri.

The laws of the state of Missouri may provide visitation rights to grandparents in very specific circumstances. Grandparents may be granted visitation if the parents have divorced. A court may also be sympathetic to grandparents if one parent is deceased and the other parent is denying visitation. If parents deny visitation for more than 90 days, grandparents may seek a legal remedy to the situation. 

Understanding types of child custody in Missouri

Child custody is actually more complex than simply determining where a child will live after a divorce. Missouri parents can be awarded different types of custody, and it is important to understand the differences when navigating divorce negotiations. A parent can be awarded sole physical or legal custody, joint legal custody, joint physical custody, or a third party could be granted child custody

If a parent is awarded sole physical custody, this implies that the child will live solely with that parent. Sole legal custody implies that only one parent has the legal authority to made decisions for the child pertaining to medical needs, education and important issues. Parents have the right to petition for sole physical and/or legal custody of their children. 

Weighing parental rights against the emotional needs of children

Missouri parents know that divorce often has negative emotional impacts on children. In the midst of fighting for deserved parental rights, it is easy lose view of the emotional needs of the children. Fortunately, when parents commit to working together on a custody agreement, it is possible to protect the interests of the children and avoid litigation. 

Children are resilient, even after the difficulty that comes from watching parents divorce. One of the best ways to protect their emotions and ease the transition into life after divorce is by avoiding negative talk about the other parent. Kids benefit when they are able to maintain strong relationships with both parents, which can be arranged when two parents work together on a custody and visitation agreement. 

How life events may impact visitation issues after divorce

There are many factors that may contribute to a divorce, but significant or traumatic life events may increase the chance that a marriage will end. Studies have shown that when a couple undergoes a certain amount of upheaval, stress or change, it can significantly alter the dynamic of a relationship, eventually leading to a divorce. How these issues affect a Missouri couple will have an impact on visitation issues, even after a divorce is final. 

A major medical event can be a significant stress source in a marriage. In addition to significant medical debt, recovery from a serious illness can last for months or years. Similarly, birth is a major life event that can also be quite costly, both financially and emotionally. The pressure that these situations can place on a marriage can be detrimental. 

Missouri parents can strive to address visitation issues amicably

Common sense suggests that most Missouri parents who are engaged in the process of divorce want to proceed as amicably as possible, especially where their children are concerned.  Some data suggests that visitation issues, division of property and other pertinent decisions that either directly or indirectly involve children will be resolved in a more positive manner if both parents agree to keep the children's best interests in mind during negotiations. A recent article offered parents practical tips and advice.

The article stated that children sometimes experience their parents' divorce as a major upheaval and traumatic experience in their own lives. An extension educator from a university family development center stressed that adults need to put forth effort toward quality and consistency in parenting in order to create a positive experience for children and avoid negative long-term effects after divorce. The spokeswoman said that parents who remain in a perpetual state of discord and involve their children in their conflicts often cause potential problems for the mental health, future relationships and educational performance of their sons and daughters.

Man sentenced to probation, owes $71,000 in child support

The vast majority of parents in Missouri simply want what is best for their children. In many cases, parents are ordered to make child support payments to help ensure that a child's needs are met. Unfortunately, some people fail to make their payments for a variety of different reasons. One out-of-state man has recently been arrested on claims that he owes over $70,000 in child support.

The 43-year-old man was first ordered to make child support payments in 2004. At that time, he was told to pay $165 each week until 2017 when the child will turn 18. He allegedly left the state after that. He was initially arrested in 2010 for failing to pay child support and spent three months in jail at that time.

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