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Missouri law seeks to give fathers equal parenting time after divorce

There may be nothing more important to a parent than the parent-child relationship. For as far back as anyone can remember, fathers in Missouri were not given much of a chance to spend time with their kids after a divorce. Sure, a father could get the court to order joint custody of the children in divorce -yet, that did not extend to visitation rights. Judges were directed under the statute to award "significant, but not necessarily equal" parenting time between the parents. That generally translated into fathers getting to spend time with their kids every other weekend and a few hours during one day a week.

A Giant Step For Fathers' Rights In Missouri

On August 29, Missouri became the fourth state in the nation to formally recognize shared parenting time. The new law seeks to give each parent an equal footing in parenting-time arrangement. Essentially, the law expects family court judges to make custody and parenting time determinations without regard to gender. The goal is to give each parent equal time with the kids, unless extenuating circumstances are present that could harm the children.

Equal Parenting Time Is Better For Children, And Parents

Fathers in Missouri can seek a 50-50 split in parenting time, giving them a better opportunity to maintain a meaningful relationship with their children. In recent years, studies have shown that shared parenting plans are beneficial to the well-being and personal development of children. However, some skeptics still believe that a child needs one primary residence -- a position that has been force-fed to judges for decades, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

It is important to note that the shared parenting law extends beyond divorce proceedings. Fathers who have minimal time with the kids may want to speak with an experienced child custody and family law attorney for guidance on modifying a custody order.

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Alan E. DeWoskin, P.C.
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