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  1. #1
    Miette is offline Junior Member
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    Filing for Full Legal Custody / Signing away rights

    What is the name of your state? Missouri

    Background: I have never been married to my sons father. The father would not allow his name to be put on the birth certificate when my son was born. After I left his father I was still receiving Medicaid as was his child, the Division of Family Services ordered the father to pay child support. Paternity was established by the court by telling the father that he could admit to being the father or have a DNA test, a test was never performed, he admitted that he was the father. The father was ordered by the court to pay child support in the amount of $117 per month. Over the last 3 years (as of Feb 2005) the father has rarely made child support payments on time and has been in default over $500 since the order was established (except when the debt of child support was paid off in 2006 due to him claiming our son on his taxes which was illegal as my son spent all his time with me since 2005). I have been informed by countless lawyers, including the Prosecuting Attorney, that I do not have legal custody, I only have parental custody. No visitation rights have been established. I would like to obtain full legal custody of my 5 year old son. The father does not seek to be involved in his son's life unless it fits him. I have tried setting up a schedule for the father to see his son but he will not adhere to the schedule (all on his terms). I have tried everything within my power to involve the father in his son's life but he does not call, ask for holiday visits (or visits at all for that matter), and does not attend school functions. My sons father has recently told my child and myself that he will be moving out of the area (1hr to 4hrs drive time away).

    My questions: At this point I would like to file for full legal custody of my son, or have the father sign away his rights. Can I file my own papers, or do I need to get a lawyer and have the courts involved in the process?

    ( I have been told by every lawyer in my town that I will be charged at least $3000 for the lawyer just to file the papers and I will be responsible for court costs as well. I cannot afford this. I have contacted legal aid and was denied due to the nature of the case.)

    If the father signs away his rights or if I obtain full custody, will the father be required to continue with child support payments?

    (My son is still on Medicaid and I am myself uninsured at this time.)

    My closing comments: I am in no way trying to keep my child from his father. I would love for the two of them to be more involved, but the father has made it very clear that he only wants his son around when it is convenient for him. Losing the child support will not be a problem as I do not rely on it for any purpose, in fact it's just a nice surprise if I do happen to receive it. This whole issue is taking its toll on myself and my son mentally. My son cries to see his father, and on the off chance that his father does try to visit with him, he cries and will not go with him and is suffering from server anxiety attacks. If my son does leave with his father for a visit, the visit usually lasts no longer than 2 hours. Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated, if more information is needed I will answer any and all questions.

    Thank you

    -Beth
  2. #2
    LdiJ is offline Senior Member
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    You can't have him sign away his rights. You would have to be married and your husband would have to be willing to adopt your child before a court would ever consider terminating his rights, particularly since you are receiving state assistance.

    As far as full legal custody is concerned, you basically already have that at this point. He has no custodial rights because he has never established any. Full legal custody would also not give you any control over visitation or anything else.

    It would be best to establish everything legally, since you intend to relocate, (you will need either dad's permission or the court's, to be safe), but you clearly don't understand how the law works, and that makes it really difficult to do this kind of thing without an attorney.
  3. #3
    Miette is offline Junior Member
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    Legal Custody

    I was informed through consultations with lawyers and also the Prosecuting Attorney that I only have "parental" custody, not full legal custody. At any time the father can pick my child up from school or any other public place and take him and refuse to give him back. I was told that should this happen I do not have legal rights to press charges to get my son back.

    While this may never happen, I refuse to live in fear for the rest of my life that it will.

    I want to be certain that if anything ever happened and his father took him for some reason that I will be able to fight to get him back, at this point I do not have that option should it happen.

    I was informed that whichever parent my son is with, has parental custody, so in other words, we both have as much custody rights as the other at this point.

    I have not talked to my sons father yet regarding signing over his rights, I was just curious if he could if he chose to do so.

    Again, I do not mind that the father is entitled to visitation rights, I am however concerned that he does not visit his son at all. I only want the option to fight for my son should his father decide to do anything drastic to hurt either my son or myself.

    Also, I am not the one relocating, the father is.

    I hope this new information helps clarify my standing.

    -Beth
  4. #4
    txrose1998 is offline Member
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    I am not an attorney....I can only tell you what I know based on my dealings with this. HE cannot sign over rights and you cannot force hhim to do so. Cannot be done without a stepparent willing to adopt. And even then, it is a costly and long process.

    What I did...of course, I was married to the father so the situation may not be similar. When I filed....I requested that in order for the father to get visitation, he must petition the court to do so. And if he chooses to petition the court, he must first go through parenting classes, drug/alcohol awareness classes, ect....

    That might be the best thing to try to do in this case.
  5. #5
    TinkerBelleLuvr is offline Senior Member
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    No visitation rights have been established.
    You HAVE full custody. If he were to leave without the child, he could be charged with kidnapping.

    For the year that he claimed the child, you can file an amended return claiming your child - he would have to PROVE that he had a right to the child. This would be worth your time/money.
  6. #6
    Miette is offline Junior Member
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    I was told specifically by the Prosecuting Attorney (who is over the local Child Support Enforcement Office) that I have "parental custody". I do not have legal custody, nor do I have full custody. I have physical custody when my son is with me, but when he is with his father, the father has the right to take him and not give him back and I cannot press charges.

    As it stands both the father and I have the same rights as the other when our son is with each of us.

    If this is not true, why would the Prosecuting Attorney give me this information?

    I do not wish for his father to sign away his rights, but I am afraid that this is what he will want to do. I was just curious if he could chose to do this on his own.

    And as far as my taxes were concerned, I did get to file them months later through correspondence with the IRS, however when I tried to turn him in for fraud they told me "eventually we will catch up with him but that is not a concern of ours at this point."

    -Beth
  7. #7
    TinkerBelleLuvr is offline Senior Member
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    OP - with DAD having paperwork saying he can't have the child, he has NO rights of visitation. Now, it would help you in the even dad pulls a fast one to have it stipulated WHEN he can have the child. If you are afraid of dad taking the child, make sure that anywhere your child is (school, daycare, etc) have a copy of your court order that shows that dad doesn't have any rights.

    Remember that you MUST have the child available for parenting time. The FATHER doesn't HAVE to take the child.
  8. #8
    Miette is offline Junior Member
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    There are no legal documents at this time giving custody to either the father or myself. We were never married and there were no custody agreements drawn up. I was informed by my sons school that since I cannot provide any documentation that I have custody that his father can pick him up at any time he chooses without my consent. The only documentation I have from a court is the child support order which was filed on Feb. 14th 2005. And as stated before this was solely for the purpose of establishing paternity and child support.

    My original question was if I can write my own agreement, have it signed by the father and myself and by whomever I legally have to have it signed by, and file the papers at the court house myself without involving a lawyer or the courts.

    I can not afford the legal fees to have a lawyer file the papers for me.

    I know the process may be very difficult, but I will fight for what is best for my child no matter what.

    -Beth
  9. #9
    TinkerBelleLuvr is offline Senior Member
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    A court order that DOESN'T give dad parenting time IS a valid court order showing that dad does NOT have parenting time. In the case of parents who were NOT married, parenting time ABSOLUTELY has to be spelled out.
  10. #10
    payingdues is offline Junior Member
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    Yes, you can do all of this yourself. And yes, it will be difficult.

    Your ex will NOT be prosecuted for kidnapping if he can prove that he is the father of the child. The police will NOT interfere if he DOES take the child from school unless you can also prove that the child is in danger.

    It IS in your child's best interests to have a court order protecting you. It's a 'golden document' that will at least show the COURT that you have custody in the event that he DOES pull a snatch and run.

    However, EVEN WITH the document/order, the police still would not get involved and the school still could not prevent him from taking the child. THAT would require a restraining order specifically barring him from picking up the child - and you're exceedingly unlikely to get that.

    Are YOU staying local, and DAD is moving? Is he planning to move out of state?
  11. #11
    payingdues is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ginny J View Post
    A court order that DOESN'T give dad parenting time IS a valid court order showing that dad does NOT have parenting time. In the case of parents who were NOT married, parenting time ABSOLUTELY has to be spelled out.
    Ginny, that's not going to work in Missouri. Trust me on that. It's a fear I live with every day.

    And yes, it may seem like I'm a newbie stepping on your toes, but just trust that I'm not. K?
  12. #12
    Miette is offline Junior Member
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    I was told by both a lawyer and the school district that if I provide documentation showing that I have full legal custody of my son that I can stop him from picking our son up from his school.

    And yes, I currently live in Poplar Bluff, Missouri and his father would be moving to Malden, MO, or Paducah, KY (with his new wife and her 3 children). Anywhere from a 1 to 3 hour drive time away. I have no plans on moving at this time.

    Is there anyone that has filed custody papers themselves, or an agency possibly that might help me? I'm looking into any and all options at this point. I do not think his father will be around much longer and I would like to get this taken care of as soon as possible.

    -Beth
  13. #13
    payingdues is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miette View Post
    I was told by both a lawyer and the school district that if I provide documentation showing that I have full legal custody of my son that I can stop him from picking our son up from his school.

    And yes, I currently live in Poplar Bluff, Missouri and his father would be moving to Malden, MO, or Paducah, KY (with his new wife and her 3 children). Anywhere from a 1 to 3 hour drive time away. I have no plans on moving at this time.

    Is there anyone that has filed custody papers themselves, or an agency possibly that might help me? I'm looking into any and all options at this point. I do not think his father will be around much longer and I would like to get this taken care of as soon as possible.

    -Beth
    [url]http://extension.missouri.edu/xplor/hesguide/humanrel/gh6130.htm[/url]

    [url]http://missourifamilies.org/features/divorcearticles/divorcefeature11.htm[/url]

    [url]http://www.williamquick.com/demo/form14v2.xls[/url]

    ANY court filing in MO for custody MUST contain a form 14 calculation worksheet - EVEN IF CS was already set by CSE.

    Also, ANY parenting plan MUST contain this section from the statutes.

    Absent exigent circumstances as determined by a court with jurisdiction, you, as a party to this action, are ordered to notify, in writing by certified mail, return receipt requested, and at least sixty days prior to the proposed relocation, each party to this action of any proposed relocation of the principal residence of the child, including the following information:

    (1) The intended new residence, including the specific address and mailing address, if known, and if not known, the city;

    (2) The home telephone number of the new residence, if known;

    (3) The date of the intended move or proposed relocation;

    (4) A brief statement of the specific reasons for the proposed relocation of the child; and

    (5) A proposal for a revised schedule of custody or visitation with the child.

    Your obligation to provide this information to each party continues as long as you or any other party by virtue of this order is entitled to custody of a child covered by this order. Your failure to obey the order of this court regarding the proposed relocation may result in further litigation to enforce such order, including contempt of court. In addition, your failure to notify a party of a relocation of the child may be considered in a proceeding to modify custody or visitation with the child. Reasonable costs and attorney fees may be assessed against you if you fail to give the required notice.

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