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Kansas City Divorce & Family Law Blog by Stange Law Firm, PC

Fathers have equal rights to child custody

Fathers in Missouri may be concerned about their future relationship with their children if they are going through a divorce. Many dads worry that family courts will be biased against them and in favor of the child's mother even though they are loving, active participants in family life. Historically, child-raising was seen as the natural province of mothers, and fathers were expected to be more distant. Many of these views date back to a time when two-income households were far less common. There was a general expectation that the mother would have primary custody of the children while the father would pay child support and visit the children from time to time.

However, all of this has changed. Fathers not only regularly receive joint custody but also primary residential custody of their children. Many family courts are eager to foster the involvement of the father in a child's life, especially as multiple studies have proven that children have better outcomes and happier lives when both parents are involved in their development. Of course, there are still some biases to be found from time to time. Some judges may still believe that fathers are less likely to be "natural" caregivers than mothers, but this approach conflicts with state law and public policy.

Handling the holidays after a divorce

48072296_s.jpgThe holidays can be a challenging time for Missouri parents who have recently gone through a divorce. Scheduling plans with extended family members can be difficult to sort out at any time, but this is especially true if the child custody situation is still settling into place. Both parents' families may have traditions that they want the children to be part of, and as a result, the kids may become the center of a battle for control of the holidays. As with other issues dealing with family traditions and parenting time, it is important for divorced parents to put the kids first.

When parents do not focus on the needs of the kids, it can be easy for the holidays to become just another subject for ongoing arguments about the divorce. Parents may feel that they need to "win" the battle of holiday planning with the other parent. As a result, their children may feel even more hurt and confused. As much as possible, parents should work together to put their differences aside and make a plan for the winter holidays. Children benefit from a strong relationship with both of their parents, and the holiday season should give them plenty of close time with both sides of the family.

How attitudes toward custody for fathers have changed

52458598_S.jpgSome fathers in Missouri may be concerned that they will face bias in family court when they are trying to get custody of their children. Traditionally in divorce cases, mothers were awarded custody because it was assumed that they would stay home with their children while the fathers continued to work outside the home to continue caring for their children. However, attitudes toward the roles of mothers and fathers have changed over time, and courts have followed suit.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case for fathers. A judge is supposed to make a decision about child custody based on the best interests of the child, and some may assume that it is in the child's best interests that the mother has custody. Typical myths that may guide this decision are that fathers cannot be nurturing, do not have the time to care for children or do not know enough about how to care for children.

Zooey Deschanel's husband files for divorce

73066587_S.jpgMissouri fans of actress and singer Zooey Deschanel might be interested to learn that her husband, Hollywood producer Jacob Pechenik, recently filed for divorce. Apparently, the pair separated in September.

According to media outlets, Pechenik, age 47, filed the divorce papers in Los Angeles Superior Court on Oct. 22. He and Deschanel, 39, were married in 2015 and share a 4-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son. The former couple released a joint statement saying they came to the decision that they are "better off as friends, business partners and co-parents" than they are as spouses. They also said that they are still planning to run their two food-related businesses and raise their children together.

Protecting business owners with prenups

51813666_S.jpgWhen Missouri entrepreneurs decide to get married, they may be concerned about the future of their businesses. A growing number of tech startup founders and other business owners are rediscovering the importance of a prenuptial agreement. Once considered by many to be a realm reserved for the ultra-wealthy or celebrities, prenups are particularly important for business owners. As people choose to marry later in life after establishing successful careers, they can benefit from thinking about a potential future separation. Of course, some couples prefer to avoid prenups, as they don't want to think about divorce before they marry.

On the other hand, given the percentage of marriages that end in divorce, people may consider prenuptial agreements a form of an insurance policy. Business owners in particular have a lot to be concerned about. Privately held companies may increase dramatically in value if a big breakthrough comes during a marriage. As a result, the company may be split up or even sold off during a divorce, as one spouse would no longer be able to buy out the other. Some angel investors even decline to finance tech startups where the founders are not protected by a prenuptial agreement that ensures continuity of the business.

What is the financial reality of a gray divorce?

109260376_S.jpgIf you are one of the many people in Missouri who is over the age of 50 and approaching or in the midst of a divorce, you should make it a priority to learn how you can minimize financial losses and set yourself up for a stable future. This can be a difficult task indeed when you must split your assets with your former spouse. However, it is possible to make wise decisions if you know the questions to ask and have the right guidance during your divorce process.

As reported by Bloomberg, it seems that many people experience serious financial hardships after getting divorced later in life. Termed "gray divorce", this is an event when a divorce happens after 50. The financial challenges associated with a gray divorce appear to be especially noticed by women.

Wife claims she was held hostage by estranged husband

112437101_M.jpgSadly, they are indeed households within Jackson County in which domestic violence is a constant presence. For those on the outside looking into such situations, the solution to the problems facing abuse victims seems to be simple: just leave the abuser. Yet in many cases, that is much easier said than done. For those who are the victims of domestic abuse, there may be a consistent fear that if they try to leave their abusers, they (or those they love) will be met with further violence. 

A recent case involving a couple in Michigan reinforces this fear. Law enforcement authorities were called to a home where a woman said that she was being held hostage their by her estranged husband. She claimed that the ordeal began earlier in the week when she told him that she wanted a divorce. He responded by brandishing a knife and threatening to kill her if she tried to leave. She was held captive in this way for two days before escaping and being rescued by family members. She returned to the house a couple of days later to get some personal belongings, yet her husband tried to detain her again. He was taken into custody by police. 

Challenging a proposed relocation

37513596_S.jpgIt is understandable that following your divorce in Jackson County, both you and your ex-spouse will want to move on with your lives. Yet if moving on to them includes moving away (with your children in tow), then you certainly may have objections to that. Many in your same position have come to see us here at the Stange Law Firm PC questioning if there is anything that they can do to prevent such a relocation from happening (or modify their custody agreements so that their time with their kids is not limited). If you share the same question, you will be happy to learn that there is. 

First and foremost, your ex-spouse simply cannot move away with the kids. They have to follow the proper procedures for parental relocation set forth by state law. Per Section 452.377 of Missouri's Revised Statutes, if your ex-spouse fails to comply with these requirements, the court will consider their actions when determining whether or not to mandate that your children be returned to you and how your custody arrangement should be modified going forward. Only when there are concerns for the children's safety might your ex-spouse be permitted to move without giving notice. The court may also require them to cover any legal fees that you have to pay to return your kids to your local jurisdiction. 

Custody dispute extends into space

47703433_S.jpgIt may be no secret to most in Jackson County that child custody proceedings between divorcing or separated parents can become heated. The emotion that both parties to such proceedings feel towards their kids is no doubt strong (and is often equaled in the negative feelings they may feel towards the other parent). If and when one who is a party to a child custody dispute does something rash, it may be easy to dismiss such a person as having little self-discipline and control. Yet the emotions that can go into a child custody dispute (both good and bad) can often prompt otherwise calm, rational people to act in ways that they normally would not. 

Such actions can include reckless behaviors that might easily be interpreted as unethical or even unlawful. Such is what an astronaut is being accused of. The woman allegedly accessed her ex-wife's private financial records. This accusation against her is the latest episode between the former couple as they battle over custody of their young son. What makes their case even more unique is where this alleged offense occurred. A trace of the access of the ex-wife's accounts showed that the astronaut viewed while serving on the International Space Station. It is being argued that her actions were criminal, which could potentially make her the first person to ever be charged with a crime while in space. 

Is your marriage in trouble?

84207917_S.jpgWhile one might think that the signs of a failing marriage are obvious, this is not always the case. In fact, some couples fail to recognize that their marriage is in trouble until divorce papers are filed. There are actually a number of signs a person can look for, which will help them prepare for the next steps, whatever they may be. Business Insider explains a few of the common signs of a marriage in trouble. 

Marriage can often pull both partners in separate directions. For example, one person may work while the other cares for the children. Both might feel resentment at the other for failed expectations, which can be hard to resolve. As a result, it can be difficult to see things from the other person's perspective, and in turn, it's more difficult to resolve conflicts in a reasonable manner. 

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  • Saint Louis County: 120 S. Central Ave., Suite 450, Clayton, MO 63105: Clayton Office
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