Moms in Divorce: Know Your Maternal Rights Before You File for Divorce
By Adam Peer - Owner of The Law Office of Adam Peer, LLC
In the past, courts applied a maternal preference in fashioning visitation and child custody orders. That is no longer the case. By statute, Courts are now required to look at the parties equally, irrespective of gender. This is a tacit, legislative acknowledgement that children typically need participation from both parents as they grow and develop. Generally, this includes providing mothers and fathers the ability to be involved in issues concerning the child’s education, welfare and health as well as recognizing that each child has a right to meaningful contact with both parents. To this end, state statutes now generally express that, in the eyes of the law, and in Courts throughout the greater Kansas City metro area, women and men receive equal treatment as parents in the context of constructing a custody arrangement and visitation schedule.
If you are a mother thinking about filing for a divorce or going through a divorce, you and your attorney will need to develop your position and strategy as you fight for your rights to parent your child and for the best interests of your child. The following information is an overview of some of the issues you could face during your divorce if your case is poised to address the issues of child custody, visitation, and child support.
Requirements for Child Support
A common misconception is that a formula based on state guidelines is always used to determine the specific amount of child support awarded. While a formula is used, it allows some flexibility. A skilled attorney can help you maximize the child support benefits you receive while navigating challenging disputes that often arise over issues like:
- Whether income should be imputed either party based on the underemployed of either party
- Whether an overall financial condition credit should apply
- Whether children off of the worksheet should be considered
- Whether and to what extent a parenting time credit should apply
- The potential for a long-distance parenting time credit
- If an insurance credit is warranted
- Whether a work related child care cost credit should be used
Parenting Time and Visitation Rights
Courts apply a ‘best interest of the child’ standard in determining the appropriate visitation level for each parent. Fighting for the visitation rights you deserve and that are best for your child are critical as visitation rights determine the amount of time (duration and frequency) that you will get to spend with your child when the divorce is finalized.
Child support is also impacted by the visitation rights awarded as part of a divorce. A skilled attorney will aggressively seek to secure your meaningful and frequent contact with you and your child. Parenting time typically ranges from the standard minimum of every other weekend with evening time once per week to both parties being awarded equal time where the child’s time is shared 50/50. Parenting time should ultimately be determined by the best interests of the child in view of the specific facts and circumstances of the parties involved in the divorce.
Child custody refers to the parental decision-making process relating to the minor child’s education, health, upbringing, activities and general welfare. Joint legal custody is awarded to both parents in the vast majority of divorce cases. Absent a clear and convincing demonstration of unfitness, abandonment, apathy or dire circumstances, courts heavily favor an award of joint legal custody and generally shy away from awarding sole legal custody to either parent.
Sole legal custody is more common in temporary orders, but very rare in final custody orders throughout Kansas and Missouri courts. Although rare, sole legal custody should be sought aggressively and should be awarded by the court if it is in the best interests of the child. Ultimately, the best interests of the child is the applicable legal standard and should be used in determining the appropriate legal custody arrangement to seek during your divorce case.
An experienced attorney will sit down with you at the inception of your case, gather all of the relevant information, and assist you in formulating a strategy that will aggressively seek to protect your parental rights as you proceed from filing through settlement or trial. The issues discussed in this article are all pieces of a bigger puzzle that require individual and collective consideration. Choose an advocate who believes in you and who is willing and able to aggressively fight for your right to parent your child.
Contact The Law Office of Adam Peer for more information or to schedule an initial consultation with an experienced Divorce Lawyer you can trust. Adam’s goal is to resolve your legal issues effectively, quickly and affordably.Adam will work with you directly, keep you informed, and work tirelessly to aggressively fight for and protect your interests.
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Adam Peer – Attorney at Law
The Law Office of Adam Peer, LLC
“Adam was highly professional, I trusted him throughout the entire process. He was eager to help fight for my kids and I, for that I am truly thankful. He was always available even when it was probably inconvenient for him. I HIGHLY recommend Adam! Thank you Adam!”
~ Danielle C.