Missouri legislator introduces bill to change custody hearings

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House Bill 566 would give fathers who have established paternity expedited hearings for violations of custody or visitation. A representative of Springfield, Missouri, who sponsors the new child custody bill, said that parental and marriage ideals of today have changed and that many couples share children without the benefit of traditional vows.

For married couples, Missouri law provides expedited hearings in the case of disagreements or violations of custody and support agreements. However, that same protection does not currently extend to partners who are not married, meaning that a father may not be able to bring violations of agreements to the court’s attention in a timely fashion.

The Missouri Supreme Court has already ruled that both married and unmarried parents must be given the same rights and treatment. Therefore, fathers who have never married the mothers of their children must be given the same expedited hearings as former spouses. However, the law has not fallen into line with the Supreme Court’s decision, creating inequity for unmarried fathers. The new bill proposes to create a law that reflects what the court has already ruled and will give equal rights to any father who has established biological paternity.

A father facing a custody or support issue may wish to seek the advice of a Missouri family law attorney. Family law attorneys may be able to explain the laws surrounding custody and child support and advise their clients on ways to proceed toward equitable goals for sharing the responsibility of raising their children.

Source: News-Leader, “Bill proposes change in handling custody hearings,” Jonathan Shorman, Feb. 21, 2013

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