Navigating Family Court

Family law covers a wide variety of legal matters. These include divorce, child custody, domestic violence, legal separation, property division, alimony, and more.

Divorce can be a stressful time, especially when children are involved. However, there are several things that can be done to lessen the impact on everyone. Clear your doubts about navigating Family Court in St. Louis County.

Child Custody

Children are at the center of most family law cases. Regardless of the legal arrangement, it’s important for each parent to take care of their children. This can include providing them with a safe environment and caring for their physical needs.

When deciding on a custody arrangement, courts will consider several factors to ensure that the child’s best interests are preserved. Ultimately, judges make these decisions with care and thoughtful consideration.

Parents who are awarded custody usually live with the child the majority of the time, and the other parent has access rights. Courts also have the ability to grant grandparents visitation rights.

Despite this, some parents deliberately violate their legally enforceable parenting plans. This can cause distress to their co-parents and may even qualify as contempt of court. Our team can help you address this type of situation by guiding you through the necessary legal steps. Our office can help you gather important evidence like pay stubs and photos to illustrate any instances of violations.

Parenting Coordination

Parenting coordination is a child-focused dispute resolution process designed to aid families in managing high conflict parenting issues and disputes. Parenting Coordinators (PC) help parents identify and resolve issues, avoid escalation, reduce delays and legal expenses associated with litigating disputes, and provide a framework for effective parenting going forward.

PCs work with both parents to find out what is behind the conflict. They also help to educate the parents about the children’s needs, and if necessary (and with the agreement of the parents) make decisions on disputes.

Parents should be aware that a PC has significant power which they could potentially abuse. They can establish rules, decide whether parents are complying and access information other professionals would need a warrant to obtain like conversations between parents and private documents. This gives them the ability to enforce certain behaviors and even take steps to punish parents. They can also require that the parents attend counseling and therapy.

Parenting Plans

Parenting plans must include a time-sharing schedule, which is also known as a “custody and visitation agreement.” Some parenting plans allow both parents to share decision-making rights, while others grant one parent sole legal custody. A parenting plan may also specify that parents must consult each other before making major decisions, and it should list the days or weeks each parent will spend with their children.

Parents must also create provisions for extracurricular activities, holiday celebrations and vacations. A parental agreement should also detail how parents will handle disagreements over schedules and other issues.

Generally, parenting agreements can be amended outside of court. However, changes must be made in accordance with the terms of the child custody order, and any disagreements between parents should be documented carefully. Parents who deliberately violate legally enforceable parenting arrangements can face serious consequences. Parents who wish to change their parenting plans should contact a St. Louis family lawyer to discuss options and protect their rights.

Contempt of Court

If a spouse fails to follow a court order in your case, such as child support or custody, you may be able to file a contempt of court motion. Depending on the specific circumstances of your situation, this could result in the other party being ordered to pay back child support or grant you additional parenting time.

There are two types of contempt: civil and criminal. In general, civil contempt happens when someone violates a court order without intention or without justification. This could include yelling at the judge during a trial or intentionally obstructing justice. Criminal contempt is a more serious offense, and involves intentionally defying the authority of the court or hindering its functions.

Both forms of contempt can carry varying penalties, including jail time. However, the most common punishment is ordering the violating spouse to comply with the original court order. This could mean having their wages withheld, garnishing their income tax refund or seizing their federal and state bank accounts.