Missouri Lawmakers Discussing Custody, Maintenance Bills

  • Many fathers struggle with family courts, due to gendered stereotypes that prevent them from having equal custody of the children.
  • The state of Missouri is discussing a bill that would award equal parenting, based on the best interests of the child.
  • The state of Missouri also is discussing a bill that will reform the spousal maintenance system.

Nothing can replace the precious moments that you spend with your children. You are better because of them, and as their parent, you are responsible for giving them a life to call their own. That is part of your identity, regardless of your marital status or current child custody arrangement.

Nothing can replace the precious moments that you spend with your children. You are better because of them, and as their parent, you are responsible for giving them a life to call their own. That is part of your identity, regardless of your marital status or current child custody arrangement.

During the divorce process, you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse may allow the emotional volatility of the situation cloud your judgment and supersede your responsibility to be putting your children first.

They may ask to receive spousal maintenance for an undetermined amount of time. This forces you into a payment system that may drag you into poverty and prevent you from both financially recovering from the divorce experience and from being the parent that your children need you to be.

This is why it is imperative to have a family law attorney who understands the unique circumstances that fathers face during the divorce and child custody process. They understand the outdated gender stereotypes that still permeate the family court system and will fight for the best outcome for you, your children, and your future.

For many fathers, the stereotypes prevail in family court over the love and responsibility that they have displayed in court to be able to love and care for their children. In these courts, it may not matter.

As a result, these dads see their children according to a predetermined schedule that does not put the children’s needs first. It does not grant equal parenting time between each parent, and the children suffer as a result.

They also are saddled with spousal maintenance that puts a financial strain on the post-divorce recovery process. They may want to inflict as much financial damage as possible in a system that allows them to do so.

Lawmakers and parenting groups are hoping to change these trends in the state of Missouri.

The custody bill

The Missouri state House of Representatives is discussing HB 229, which states that there should be a rebuttable presumption, that an award of equal or approximately equal parenting time to each parent, is in the best interests of the child.

The bill, sponsored by Representative Kathryn Swan of District 147 in Cape Girardeau, Mo., focuses on what the children need and the abilities of each parent to satisfy them. For groups like the Americans for Equal Shared Parenting, they know that not every situation warrants a 50/50 custodial split. However, they understand that it is a necessary starting point for family court judges, and that automatically limiting the father’s access based solely on gender stereotypes regarding his ability to provide a stable, loving, and responsible home for his children, is not the answer.

This bill would require family courts to consider the mental and physical health of all individuals involved, including any history of abuse of any individuals involved. This would disqualify any parent who has engaged in acts of domestic violence and several other outlined crimes.

According to FOX2 in St. Louis, the bill went to the Missouri house floor for debate April 4, 2019 and was perfected with Amendments.

While Missouri lawmakers are hopeful that this bill becomes law and gives both parents a chance to be a more equal part of their children’s lives, this is not the only area related to the divorce experience that they hope to reform.

The maintenance bill

The Missouri state House of Representatives actively is discussing HB 254, a new bill that modifies provisions related to maintenance orders. The bill, sponsored by Representative Lynn Morris, of District 140, just south of Springfield, Mo., was placed on the Informal Perfection Calendar. It is in line to be debated, amended, substituted, or altered, looks to change the language of the previous provisions related to child support and maintenance.

The bill, if passed, will allow courts to grant a maintenance order to either spouse, but only if it finds just cause. The causes that the bill outlines include an insufficient amount of marital property distributed to him or her; or being unable to support himself or herself through appropriate employment.

Additionally the bill states that if the custodial parent is the recipient of the maintenance, then they are not required to seek employment outside of the home.

The amount of the maintenance and the length of time that the paying spouse will be required to pay will be decided based on a variety of factors, according to the bill.

These factors include the financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, the time necessary to acquire education or training to enable the receiving spouse to find a job, the comparative earning capacity of each spouse, the standard of living established during the marriage, the obligations and assets allocated to the receiving spouse, the duration of the marriage, physical and emotional condition of the receiving spouse, age of the spouses, the ability of the paying spouse to meet their needs while meeting the receiving spouse’s needs, the conduct of the parties during the course of the marriage, and any other relevant factors.

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

The movement

These two pieces of legislation are two of many bills around the country that are giving those paying life-long maintenance and parents who have gone through family courts without the presumption of joint custody or the, hope. More than 20 states, including IowaMichiganIllinois, and Kansas, have considered laws promoting shared parenting and an updated standard in child custody proceedings.

Additionally, states like Alabama and New Hampshire have passed laws regarding maintenance, in an effort to promote the financial relief of those who have gone through a divorce and have been paying alimony for longer than the actual duration of the marriage itself.

The efforts are being pursued, in order to reflect the changes within society and culture. Fathers equally are capable of taking care of their children and providing a loving and stable home for them to thrive in. Additionally, the obligation of maintenance is meant to aid in the adjustment process after divorce and is not meant to be a permanent fixture in the receiving ex-spouse’s bank account.

By pursuing these changes, Missouri is taking similar steps to many states in the how they treat parents, children, and spouses throughout the divorce experience.

End of Content Icon

Leave a Reply