Fox Family Lawyers
Cynthia Moseley Fox
Attorney at Law
7751 Carondelet Avenue,
Suite 700
Clayton, Missouri 63105
(St. Louis)
314.727.4880

Child Custody & Parenting Plans

The following articles were all written for Cynthia Fox's weekly column in the Suburban Journals.

What Should You Do If Your Child Asks to Move From Your “Ex’s” Home Into Yours?

If your child insists on moving from your former spouse's home to yours, proceed cautiously. First, recognize that this request may be an impulsive reaction to a passing problem in the other home. Secondly, do all you can you to work out a solution with your "ex" before taking it to court. Thirdly, investigate why your child wants to make the change. Is there a deeper-set problem or issue that needs to be addressed? Lastly, if you decide to take it to court, remember that the "best interests of the child" will be the judge's first consideration, while he/she will also look for a significant and continuing change in cirumstances to justify the modification. Rarely, will a child's preference be enough on its own to carry the day.     read more

Grandparents and Stepparents Have Limited Rights in Missouri

This article describes the visitation and custody rights of "third party" parents, such as grandparents, steparents and others that have been significantly involved in raising a child not their own. The circumstances that would permit third party visitation rights are limited--only grandparents can apply and only if the natural parents have filed for divorce or are divorced, or if the natural parent that is the grandparents' child dies and the surviving, non-descendant parent cuts the child off from the grandparent(s). Perhaps surprisingly, the opportunities for a third-party parent to acquire custody rights are a bit wider. Any person, even siblings, neighbors, or friends that have been significantly involved in the raising of the child, may apply. However, both natural parents would have to be dead, or have abandoned the child, or divorced, with the further consideration that each divorced parent would have to be judged unfit to meet the child's needs, or the "welfare of the child demands" that custody be awarded to the third-party parent.     read more

What To Do If Your “Ex” Fails To Return Your Children On Time

If one parent "willfully" refuses to return a child to the other parent, without good cause, in violation of a lawful custody order, this is a Class D felony in Missouri, punishable by up to four years in prison. The article describes what you should do if this happens to you.     read more

A Pokey “Ex” Could End Up in The “Pokey” If They Refuse To Bring Your Kids Back On Time

According to a St. Louis County Assistant Prosecutor, "the police have a legal duty to investigate a crime". This same prosecutor also says that the police, though, "have the discretion to decide if a crime has been committed". So, if you think your "ex" has willfully withheld your child from you, without good cause, and in violation of a lawful custody order, this could be a class D felony in Missouri. But, what do you do if you go to the police and they refuse to get involved? This article tells you what to do next.     read more

Couples Often Avoid The Hard Work Of Drafting A Parenting Plan When Getting A Divorce

This article discusses the importance of creating a "parenting plan" customized to your own family's situation for your divorce rather than using the "stock draft" offered by the court. Be forewarned, drafting a custom plan can be very hard work, but it will ultimately pay you both back in many ways. Read the article to learn more.     read more

Parenting Plans Should Be Custom Tailored To Each Family’s Unique Situation

So, you are you going through a divorce, or about to, and do you have minor children? If so, you will soon have to agree with your spouse on a "parenting plan" for your kids. This article talks about the 3 elements Cynthia Fox considers most essential to creating a great parenting plan. Read the article to learn more.     read more

Should Children Testify About Where They Would Like To Live After The Divorce?

By law in Missouri, children aged 10 and above are entitled to testify in a divorce case involving their parents, or a paternity case, as to which parent they would prefer to live with. Even so, many judges are reluctant to let that happen, particularly in open court, but also "in chambers" with only the judge and the lawyers present. Read more to learn why.     read more

Children Should Be Heard in Divorce Cases

Although family court judges are hesitant about allowing children to testify about where they would prefer to live after their parents divorce, Cynthia Fox believes that having them heard by the court gives children "ownership" in the court's decision. Judges are concerned that the prospect of testifying raises the child's anxiety level, while Cynthia argues that kids are already anxious enough about what is going to happen that "including them in the loop" can have a calming effect.     read more

If You Move, Can You Take Your Child With You?

If you share custody or visitation rights of a minor child with someone else and want to move for a period of longer than 90 days, you must notify that other person at least 60 days in advance, including a modified custody and/or visitation plan, among other required contents, within that notification. And, if you receive such a notification, you must object within 30 days or the proposed relocation will be deemed accepted by you. Read more to learn more.     read more

At What Age Can Children Decide With Whom To Live?

A reader of Cynthia's column asks at what age her children will be allowed to decide with which parent they want to spend time with or live. Apparently, her kids aged 12 and 14 have said that they don't want to spend as much time with their father as the court-issued custody schedule provides for. Read the article to learn how this situation should be addressed.     read more

Going To Trial Because Your Kids Don’t Like Visiting With Your “Ex” Usually Isn’t Worth It

Absent a credible claim that your "ex" is abusing your children, or another significant failure as a parent, family court judges are reluctant to significantly reduce one parent's time with his/her kids simply because the kids don't like being with him or her. As such, taking a motion to modify the custody plan to court without evidence of abuse or parental failure is likely to be very costly financially and emotionally, with a low likelihood of obtaining the desired result. This article points out the pitfalls of trying to accommodate your children's demands and suggests alternatives to going to court.     read more

Parents Must Communicate Their Travel Plans To Each Other

Once parents are divorced, the complexities associated with traveling with your children increase. By statute, a parent is required to inform the other parent about any "extended" travel plans. Further, it is advisable to check out whether your children's health insurance will apply when traveling to a foreign country, or whether that country will require that you present written permission from the other parent to be traveling with your kids.     read more

The Anna Nichol Case Illustrates How a Conflict in Laws Can Affect The Outcome

A foreign-born couple now living in St. Louis County, but married in a "ritualistic" ceremony back in their native country, faced the possibility that their St. Louis County adult abuse case and, ultimately, their divorce will be adjudicated by applying the law of their homeland. This possibility motivated the husband to concede to many of his wife's demands in the adult abuse case even though he and his wife both agreed that his wife was already married when the their marriage was performed. That's because the law in their native land allows for someone already married to be married to another person.     read more

Recognizing Differences in State Laws Can Be Critical to How a Custody Issue Is Resolved

In a custody battle between parents where two states are involved, each state's court typically looks to the language of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) passed by its legislature for guidance on how to determine jurisdiction. In Missouri, its UCCJA requires that a child reside in Missouri for 6 months before Missouri can be declared as the child's "home state". Read the article to learn how this fact undermined a father's attempt to have his divorce from his Oklahoma-based wife heard in Missouri.     read more

When Spouses Live In Different States, Winding Up a Marriage Can Be Complicated

This article discusses the hypothetical case of "Julia" and "George" and how their marriage might be terminated with two different states involved. Read more to learn why Julia filed her divorce case in Missouri and why George filed his in Tennessee.     read more

Parallel Custody Cases in Two Different States Can Create Unenforceable Outcomes

This article returns to the hypothetical couple, “Julia" and George", discussed in the last article and their parallel divorce cases in Missouri and Tennessee. The case has been complicated by the fact that their 2 children have been living with Julia in Missouri, with George's permission, for the past six months while Julia was in Missouri on a temporary business assignment. At each parent's request, both Missouri and Tennessee have each decided they would hold separate custody cases. Read more to learn about the potential consequences.     read more

If One Divorced Parent Proposes To Move, The Other Parent Must Object Within 30 Days

"Carla" had only 30 days to formally object when her ex-husband "Hal" notified her that he was moving from South County to St. Charles. Under their divorce agreement, Carla was obligated to drop the kids off at Hal's home twice during the week. This was no problem when both of them lived in South County, but with the pending move to St. Charles, Carla just didn't see how she could manage the extra driving time in a schedule already cramped her having to hold two jobs. Read the article to learn how this was resolved.     read more

Going To Jail To Protect Your Child

What should a mother (or father) do when their "ex" refuses to provide their child medication vital to that child's health and well-being while in the "ex's" care? A reader describes just that situation in a letter to Cynthia Fox. Read about the alternatives this reader is facing, including the possibility that she may have to go to jail rather than allowing her child to visit with the "ex".     read more

What to Do If Your Spouse “Snatches” Your Child

Cynthia Fox's personal story about the taking of her child by her (former) husband, part 1.     read more

How I Got My Child Back After He Was Taken To California by My Husband

Cynthia Fox's personal story about getting her son back after he was taken by her (former) husband, part 2.     read more

Fed Up Parent Risks Losing Custody and Child Support By Dumping The Child With the “Ex”

If you are divorced and the custodial parent, be careful about turning your child over to the other parent for an extended period of time. Doing so could result in your forfeiting your custody rights and the child support you receive. If you are the non-custodial parent and suddenly find your child or children thrust upon you, you should investigate whether you want to go back to court to permanently modify the custody and child support arrangements before the other parent has a change of heart.     read more

Why Brad Wants To Adopt Angelina’s Children and Should She Let Him

This article explores the competing considerations that may have been at play when Brad Pitt announced that he wanted to adopt Angelina Jolie's children, even though the two were not married. It is easier to understand why Brad wanted to do that than it is to understand why Angelina was willing to let him.     read more

Judges Have A Great Deal of Discretion in Approving Adoptions in Missouri

The previous article discussed the possible issues in play due to Brad Pitt's desire to adopt Angelina Jolie's children and Angelina's willingness to let him. This article describes how a Missouri Family Court judge might react if Brad Pitt's petition to adopt was put before him or her.      read more

Family Access Motions Enforce Custody Orders, But Older Kids Often Live Where They Want

If your "ex" withholds your child in violation of your court-ordered custody schedule, you can file a Family Access Motion that, if sustained by the court, could result in you being awarded compensatory time with your child to make up for the time you have missed, and your "ex" being fined up to $500. However, if your child is 16 years old, as is the child described in the article, and he/she prefers living with your "ex", there may be little you can do if the child decides not to come back.     read more

Threatening To Withhold The Children Can Tilt The Balance in a Custody Battle

This article discusses how what one says to their spouse in the anger can come back to haunt them in a divorce when the court is trying to determine how much time each parent will have with the children. A threat to withhold the kids from the other parent as a way of "punishing" that spouse can lead the court to award more custody time with that parent than with the one making the threat. This is because the court must give consideration to which parent is more likely to allow the children “frequent, continuing and meaningful contact with the other parent”.     read more

Children Can be the Pawns of Divorcing Parents

This article tells the story of "Frank", son of "Juan" and Rose", and the lengths that Juan went to turn Frank against his mother. But, thanks largely to Frank's loyalty to his mom, Juan’s efforts failed. When the court learned of Juan's attempted undermining it reacted by severely limiting Juan's time with his son, while also awarding Rose sole physical and legal custody.     read more

Bans on Live-In Lovers Must Benefit the Children In Order To Be Enforced

Many men/women when divorcing complain during the divorce run-up that their soon-to-be ex-wife or husband is entertaining an overnight guest with the children present, yet very few will include such a prohibition in the final decree because each knows that the restriction will apply to them as well. However, anyone seeking to have that limitation included should make sure that he or she provides evidence to the court demonstrating that the provision will serve the best interests of their child(ren).     read more

Missouri Supreme Court Reunites Mother with Child Taken Away Years Earlier

Cynthia relates the story of Angela Williams, a Park Hills Missouri mother with significant physical and mental health impairments, who overcame all odds to reunite with her 4 year old son, who was unjustly taken from her when he was just 5 days old. Read more about her case, which was ultimately decided by the Missouri Supreme Court.     read more

Why Just Call When You Can Video Conference?

This article discusses how video conferencing has the potential to improve upon and, ultimately, replace the telephone calls that now regularly occur between the child of divorced parents and the non-custodial parent.     read more

Mom Seeks Custody of Only One of Her Two Kids While Dad Wants To Keep Them Together

In this article, Cynthia advises two readers who written with interesting custody questions. The father of two girls, 13 and 8, is confronted in his divorce with a proposal from his wife that she be given physical custody of just the 8 year old. His lawyer has advised that he accept this offer, but Cynthia argues strenuously that he demand that the girls be kept together and that he find another attorney. In second instance, an ex-wife and mother has moved with her children 45 miles away from her ex-husband and the father, despite the father's objection to the move. Cynthia counsels that as long as the dad files a formal objection to the move with the Family Court within 30 days of his learning about it, he will likely have several options for mitigating the impact of the move on his relationship with his kids.      read more

Husband Barred From Seeing Child He Helped Raise Since Birth

Cynthia relates the story of James Warlop, who was denied the right to visit with the child that he and the mother had raised together since birth, after he and the mother divorced. The child was born during the marriage of Mr. Warlop to the mother and, absent any other evidence to the contrary, the child would have been presumed to be Mr. Warlop’s daughter. However, after entering into a private agreement with the mother detailing his visitation rights, but before the divorce was finalized, Mr. Warlop participated in DNA test that proved he was not the father. Read the article to learn more about this puzzling case.     read more