Parental rights are an important aspect when it comes to family law and single mothers should be aware of this. Single mom rights in Missouri are governed by state laws and regulation that mainly aims to safeguard the best interest of kids involved in family legal disputes. This guide will help you to understand different aspects regarding parental rights in Missouri including visitation, custody paternity as well as termination of parental rights.
What Parental Rights Can Single Moms Avail In Missouri?
The legal responsibilities and rights which parents have towards their kids are known as parental rights. Such rights include taking decisions regarding a child’s upbringing, healthcare, education as well as religious upbringing. In Missouri mothers and fathers both have equal rights related to their children. However, if you’re a single mom and have headed for divorce or separation then the court will grant any one parent the primary custody, and the other parent will receive visitation rights only. In other cases, the court will give joint custody where single moms and their partners can share the responsibility of taking all the decisions related to the child’s well-being and welfare.
How Can Single Mothers Establish Paternity In Missouri?
Establishing paternity is important for unmarried single mothers to secure their parental rights. There are three main ways in Missouri through which single moms can establish paternity.
1. AOP, Voluntary Acknowledgement Of Paternity
Single mothers and their partners can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement Of Paternity which is a legal document that acknowledges the partner as the biological father of their child. The Voluntary Acknowledgement Of Paternity should be filed with the Missouri Department Of Health And Senior Services Bureau Of Vital Records.
2. Genetic Testing
If any of the parents questions paternity then genetic testing will be conducted to ascertain the biological father. A court order is required or an agreement between both parents is required to go for genetic testing.
3. Court Order
If single moms and their partners fail to decide on paternity then the child’s legal representative or either parent can file a paternity action in the Missouri Circuit Court. This court will help in determining paternity based on genetic testing and evidence.
Is Missouri A Mother Or A Father State?
The state of Missouri is neither considered a father nor a mother state since the laws are not written to favor only one parent over the other. Missouri is popularly known as a 50-50 state. In other words, Missouri courts give both parents an equal chance to get custody rights. The courts typically prefer to provide joint custody to both parents whenever possible. Although Missouri State laws prefer joint custody arrangements for the child’s sake, it doesn’t mean each parent will be granted physical or legal custody rights over their kids. As per Missouri laws, courts may award custody in multiple ways. Missouri judges can award joint legal and physical custody which means parents have to split time in taking care of the children and also have to make joint decisions for the well-being and health of the child.
The court alternatively can award sole custody to any one parent. This includes sole legal custody, sole physical custody, or both. No one parent gets an inherent advantage therefore sole custody is awarded to either the father or the mother depending on the circumstances. Single mothers who are involved in child custody disputes should hire a legal counsel who can provide them with guidance and the right path to protect their parental rights when it comes to their minor childhood stuff. Missouri determines child custody by using the best interest of the child policy.
What Are The Child Custody And Visitation Rights In Missouri?
Child custody as well as visitation rights are ascertained by the Missouri court in the best interest of the child. Legal custody refers to the right to make decisions about the child’s upbringing such as education, religious instruction, and healthcare. The legal custody can either be sold or joined depending on the decision of the court. Physical custody is the time a child spends with his or her parents. Similar to legal custody, physical custody can either be sole or joint. The Missouri court will create a parenting plan where a specific schedule related to visitation will be outlined including vacations and holidays. While determining custody and visitation rights the Missouri court will consider a lot of factors such as the following:
- Child’s relationship with each parent, significant individuals, and sibling
- Child’s adjustment to school, home, and community
- The physical and mental health of the parties involved
- Any history of domestic violence or abuse
Missouri courts do not favor any one parent over the other based on gender. Both mother and father have equal rights to visitation and child custody.
On What Grounds Can Parental Rights In Missouri Be Terminated?
Termination of parental rights may take place in certain situations; this refers to a severe legal action that permanently terminates the bond or relationship between a parent and a child. Parental rights in Missouri can be terminated involuntarily or voluntarily. Voluntary termination is a situation when a parent desires to relinquish their parental rights and this happens in the case of adopted children. Involuntary termination parents have to sign legal documents or consent to terminate parental rights. Involuntary termination of parental rights occurs when the Missouri court decides that it is in the best interest of the child. Some grounds for involuntary termination include abandonment of a child, severe or chronic abuse, negligence, the conviction of criminal offenses, failure to maintain or support contact with the child, substance abuse by the parent, prolonged illness, etc.
Single mothers need to understand their parental rights in Missouri while navigating family law matters and child custody. Irrespective of whether you’re seeking custody, establishing paternity, or facing parental rights termination it is important to learn the responsibilities and rights under Missouri law. If you require any legal assistance and help with single mom rights in Missouri, you should consult with an experienced and professional family law attorney who can advise you and guide you through the legal process.