During these uncertain times, the number one family law questions right now are:

  1. What do I do about visitation between the child and the other parent or myself?
  2. I lost my job what is going to happen to my child support?

First, continue to maintain your parenting plan/temporary visitation order unless the two of you come to a mutually agreed upon decision to deviate from the plan/order. If you do agree to deviate, document the agreement in writing whether by text, email or written document. Parenting plans/temporary visitation orders are deemed essential orders and need to be followed. If a child is immunocompromised then you need to talk with your attorney.

Second, even though schools are suspended for the next month, parents should continue to follow the school’s schedule that would have been in place if school was still in session. In other words, if your school is out for Good Friday and your plan/order says one of you gets Thursday through Sunday on 3-day weekends then follow that part of the plan.

Third, and finally, carry your parenting plan/visitation orders with you in case you get stopped while out and about doing the exchange.


Recently, I attended a webinar in which Judges from across the state participated in an answer/question session.  Following are some of their thoughts:

*Be safe and stay at home but do not use Covid 19 as a reason to withhold

*A fear is not simply enough to stop custody exchanges

*If parents cannot cooperate during this time of pandemic then it is going to be very hard to persuade the Court that they will cooperate with each other at other times and on smaller issues.

  • Parents are cooperating during these unsettling times will be looked upon more favorably when it comes time to decide whether joint custody or sole custody is in the best interests of the child(ren).
  • A parent who had unilaterally decided that since school has been suspended that it is time to either move to the summer schedule or to withhold completely will be looked upon quite unfavorably
  • If someone in one of the households has been exposed or is exhibiting symptoms AND the child has been in both homes during the 2 weeks prior, then it is presumed that the child has already been exposed.
    • Quarantine both houses meaning neither house goes anywhere else until the 2 weeks is up
    • Continues to exchange the child with the other parent
    • Follow all medical advice if there is a parent who is positive in the other home
  • If someone in one of the households has been exposed or is exhibiting symptoms and the child has NOT been in both homes during the 2 weeks prior then you must seek medical advice and follow it but consider keeping the child out of that home and then make up the time later.
  • If the other home tests positive and the child has not been there during the 2 weeks prior to the positive test then you must seek medical advice and follow it but consider keeping the child out of the home and then make up the time later.
  • If the child is immunocompromised and the other parent refuses to temporarily stop visitation then seek and follow medical advice and talk to your attorney
  • If the child lives with a parent who is immunocompromised then it may be necessary for the child to go live with the other parent until the danger has passed and then make up the time later.
  • If one parent is a healthcare worker/front line worker look for alternative ways to engage in visitation or if there is reason why a child is not going to the other house then offer Virtual Visitations even if your parenting plan does not specifically mention it. The parent who is willing to give the other parent unfettered access to the child will be looked upon favorably:
    • Zoom/Facetime/Skype/Telephone calls/Facebook messenger/Portal – you can eat a meal together, read a book, play a game, etc.
    • Arrange for a walk in the park where each person and child has taken the necessary precautions and maintains social distancing
  • If one parent is a healthcare worker/front line worker and refuses to stop visitation talk to an attorney
  • If one parent is supposed to only get supervised visitation then:
    • Supervised due to physical harm – permit the Virtual Visitation
    • Supervised due to emotional harm – try Virtual Visitation but if it becomes a problem then may need to end it
  • If a Motion for Contempt has been filed, it is most likely not going to be granted but it will depend upon the specific circumstances of the case plus that the answer may change down the road. Right now, the situation is too new to really know what hindsight will tell us when handling these issues.
  • If a Family Access Motion has been filed, it will most likely be granted especially if the parent not getting visitation is not be offered compensatory time, but it will still depend upon the specific circumstances of the case
  • One parent should not make the other parent choose between keeping their visitation or keeping their job especially right now when unemployment is so high. Again, fear is not enough to withhold in the majority of cases.
  • If the other parent lives out of state, then parents need to be looking at travel by car rather than by airplane. Even time spent in a car is quality time with your child.  Consider extending the time that the other parent receives to reduce time on the road for the child.
  • If the parent who is supposed to pay child support has lost their job that parent must still continue to pay something to demonstrate their willingness to continue to support their child. The other parent needs to demonstrate patience.
    • If the parent paying child support loses their job due to the current pandemic, then that is a temporary loss in income versus those who simply choose to remain home to shelter in place – pay something – don’t completely forget your obligation
    • If the case is nearing a settlement, then look at agreeing to child support but setting the start date out a couple of months for the paying parent
  • If a parent fails to take a child in for testing against medical advice, then it may be necessary to talk with an attorney and hold a hearing.
  • Demands by one parent to split any stimulus money received by the other parent will not be heard by the courts unless the check has been sent out in both names, but the Courts feel that will be a rare circumstance

If you have additional questions or concerns please talk to your attorney and they will help you out to the best of their abilities.

Posted by Keith

Landlord Tenant

Every once and a while someone walks into my office or calls me on the phone and asks, “How do I get someone out of my house?” (And he/she is not talking about a 20 something child who does not have a job and is not in college.)

First and foremost, it is important to remember that both Landlords and Tenants (owners and renters) have rights. For the most part, a landlord has the right to expect rent to be paid on a timely basis, which usually means at least once a month on an agreed upon date. Tenants have a right to live in that property free from unidentified health and safety concerns and free from unwarranted interruptions by the landlord.

The problem most often boils down to the payment of rent, which will be the first question asked by the judge if this goes to court. If you are not paying rent then you better bring a really good excuse that has something to do with the property because the “economy” will not be enough. On the other side, if your tenant is timely paying rent then you better bring a good reason for trying to remove them because the judge will listen to their side of the story.

There are two main types of residential rental cases: Rent and Possession and Unlawful Detainer. More complicated cases may be tried under various case types including breach of contract, eminent domain, declaratory judgment and even trespass. In this post, I will attempt to describe the typical rent and possession case type and touch on unlawful detainer. Stop by my office for a copy of the Missouri Attorney General’s handbook called Landlord-Tenant Law: The Rights and Responsibilities of Landlords and Tenants, or go online to get a copy today.

Landlords and Tenants have rights described in the contract and often other rights not in the contract that are provided by common law, statutes or case law. The best way to know what is expected is by reviewing your contract and keeping the pathways of communication open between you and the other side.

A typical contract would include when, where, how, and how much to pay, as well as length of the lease. These terms seem to speak to the rights of the landlord more than the tenant when in fact knowing that you must pay $500 a month on the first of each month to the apartment complex office for the next 12 months means that the landlord cannot raise your rent until this portion of the lease is over, under normal circumstances. To avoid future disputes, it is best that both the landlord and the tenant keep track of any agreements that are not in the original contract by putting them in writing and both parties signing it.

Many of you were probably hoping I would come out and tell you whether you can kick out your tenant for letting a girlfriend/boyfriend move in who is not on the lease, or whether you can stop paying rent until the landlord fixes toilet. Unfortunately, specific questions like those require an in-depth analysis of each issue and the facts surrounding them. The best course of action is to consult an attorney before you do it, because the answer could be yes, or no, depending on your specific facts and your action, or failure to act, could get you sued. If you are a landlord and want some “non-legal” advice, you should consider joining a landlord association. In Webster County contact Doris McFarland (417) 839-5759 or in Springfield go to: If you are a tenant, you should make yourself more familiar with the Missouri Attorney General’s website, or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website, Knowing your rights and responsibilities will protect you in the long run.

Whether you are suing your landlord or you are being sued, your case begins with the filing of a petition and some sort of notice to the other party that they are being sued. If you are suing your landlord then you will find a plethora of options you must wade through – which theories of law apply such as breach of contract, unjust enrichment; which remedies apply, for example, do you want out of your contract or do you want to force your landlord to do something you believe is covered, or should have been covered in the contract; and, then how much money is at stake.

Depending on the above answers, you will either file in Circuit or Associate court. Each court has its own rules and timelines. In circuit court a 30-day notice is sent out to the other party requiring them to file an answer to your petition within 30 days of receiving notice of the lawsuit or they are in default. In associate court the clerk will set your lawsuit for hearing, generally within 30 days and the other party receives notice of that date and is commanded to either appear or contact the court to reschedule to a date they can appear.

If you are suing for, or being sued for, possession (eviction) specific rules apply, which are set out in detail in chapters 534 & 535 of the Missouri Revised Statutes. These rules provide for an expedited court date but separate out possession and judgment for rent based on type of notice actually given. For example, the court is required to set the initial hearing date within 21 days. To be lawful, service of this petition on the renter must be done at least 4 days prior to the court date. It can also be posted on the door of the rented room or structure and mailed, but this must be done at least 10 days before the court date. If the renter does not appear, or contact the court to reschedule, the court can issue a default judgment against them for possession and/or unpaid rent, plus interest. If the landlord does not appear, or contact the court, but the renter does, the judge can dismiss the action for want of prosecution.

Your best avenue to handling a case is to remember, good communication between you and the other party may resolve these issues without going to court, and settlement is always an option.

Before we discuss the end, let us go back to the beginning for a second. The only win-win situation in a lease or purchase agreement is communication. There are no real winners in a rent and possession, or unlawful detainer action. A landlord only truly wins if the property is continually rented and minimal repairs and updates are required. On the other hand, the renter/purchaser, only wins if they can remain in possession of the property with minimal interruption and minimal inflation of the property price. That being said, in the scenario we have been exploring, the landlord and tenant ended up in court and a judgment has been issued because they did not reach a settlement among themselves. I will reiterate that parties can settle at any time, even up to 30 days after a judgment is entered.

If you are the tenant, and you won, you now have a dilemma. On the one hand, you could gloat because you really showed that landlord how smart you and/or your attorney are and beat him/her and/or his/her attorney down in court. You can stay on the property and the landlord must comply with the judge’s order. Unfortunately, there is always a next time. Once communications have deteriorated so far that you had to sue the landlord in court future communications might be even more difficult. And, then there is the issue of the renewal of your contract which will no longer be a pleasant experience. On the other hand, you can leave, but do not expect a glowing referral. All of that time making payments on time and being a “good” tenant was just wiped away. It is for these reasons that we strongly recommend both communication up front and if a law suit is initiated. Giving a little (compromise) can go a long way to future happiness.

If you are the landlord, you have similar problems. Obviously, if the tenant is not paying then they serve no purpose to you as a business person. But, if it is a dispute over anything else other than rent payment, then communication and settlement can go a long way to being successful. As you must already know, every time you re-let the property you have to change locks, paint, clean or replace the carpet and even spray for bugs which eats into your pocketbook. And, if you are dispossessing the tenant then you have to worry about the damage they may do either to the property or to the peace among your other tenants in the 10 days they have to move out.

Posted by Keith

Debt Collection

This post will present the issue of debt collection from both the side of the collector and the side of the debtor. Each party has rights as well as responsibilities. There are hundreds of laws in this area from the federal Fair Credit Collection Practices Act, 15 USC 1692, (FDCPA), to Title 27 Revised Missouri Statutes “Debtor-Creditor Relations,” and case law both in state and federal courts.

To begin, let us first consider whether you are a debtor, someone who owes a collectible debt, or a creditor, someone to whom a collectible debt is owed. Note the choice of the word “collectible.” Not all debt is collectible. In Missouri, the statute of limitations for the collection of most debts is 5 years. There are many circumstances in which the 5-year rule does not apply to your specific circumstances. For example, the process of re-aging is where a person makes a payment on a debt which is close to, or older than 5 years and that payment could start the clock over. Also, in many contracts, especially those for revolving credit, such as credit cards, a choice of law and forum (location) may had been agreed to by the parties and Missouri law would not apply. You will need to review your agreements to determine whether Missouri law even applies in regards to your debt.

Other factors may weigh on whether the debt is collectible such as mistake, fraud, or duress in the initial process which cause someone to incur the debt.


If you are a debtor do not ever give a credit card, bank information, or even discuss your debt over the phone. If you are a creditor do not ask for credit card, bank information, or to discuss the debt over the phone. Identity theft is a reality. If you do not want your bank account to be emptied or your life to be ruined financially just make it a rule to not discuss these matters over the phone. As a creditor, if you do not want to be misquoted, accused of badgering, or sued under fair debt collection laws then send a letter.

Anyone serious about a debt will take the time and effort to provide the information in writing. As a debtor, after you thoroughly review your accounts to determine whether it is a valid debt then you can call the company back and try to reach an agreement, or contact a group, agency or attorney’s office for assistance.

As creditors, your best chance of getting a full settlement from the debtor is providing accurate and thoughtful documentation. Reminding a debtor of the agreement, especially specific parts that the debtor may not have remembered or understood will go a long way in front of our local judges. Judges will consider each person’s individual circumstances when making a final determination in the case.

There are specific laws regarding telephone communication in debt collection – remember though, as a debtor, cutting off communications with a creditor will likely result in them proceeding to court to get a judgment against you. Then they can, and will, begin attaching your assets for collection.

• Under the Fair Credit Collection Practices Act, 15 USC 1692, (FDCPA) debt collectors can only call between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.
• Leaving a message on your voice mail or recorder can be a violation under 1692c, if anyone else has access to the voice mail or recorder and is not a debtor on the specific debt.
• Under 1692b they can only call your work to verify your location and must cease if you tell them that you cannot receive calls there.
• While not setting an exact number of times a collector can call 1692d(5) does state that “engaging any person in telephone conversation repeatedly or continuously with the intent to annoy, abuse or harass” would be a violations of the FDCPA.

Both the FDCPA & the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. 227(b)(1)(A) prohibit automated debt collection calls to cellular phones where the recipient has not given express consent. Each and every violation of these provisions can result in penalty to the collector. The penalty for violations of this provision is the greater of the amount of actual monetary damages or $500 for non-willful violations or $1,500 for willful violations.

Assuming that everyone agrees that the debt is valid and the creditor is willing to enter into a payment plan if the debtor is unable to pay the full amount upfront then the matter can either be settled without the need to open a court case or a consent judgment can be entered. In cases involving payment plans, the judgment is entered and the court will stay execution of the judgment. In other words, so long as the debtor makes timely payments then the creditor will not garnish the debtor or take other actions to obtain full payment immediately.

If either party fails to perform their part of the new agreement the parties can look back to the original agreement for their rights and responsibilities, or the parties can now use the new agreement and sue as a breach of that agreement. It ultimately depends on what was agreed to in the new agreement. Therefore, while these agreements are usually beneficial, make sure that you understand what you are offering and what you are accepting. Read the fine print carefully and/or consult an attorney or financial specialist who can help you understand your rights.

Some things to look for when you are making these new agreements. Some agreements are required by law to be in writing. Some examples are agreements to purchase real property, or for goods or services above a certain value or that cannot be completed in a certain time period. These rules generally fall under a legal theory called the Statute of Frauds. In Missouri, this has been codified as 432.010 RSMo. While the courts are not supposed to make laws some of the rules applying to these agreements may also be found in cases heard before the appellate courts. Therefore consulting an attorney may be a good idea before you make a new agreement.

Judgments are debts ordered by the court. A judgment can be any writing signed by a judge (even by initials), denoted as a judgment somewhere in the document and entered into the record (filed). Under Missouri law, judgments can be collected for 10 years, unless the creditor has made reasonable attempts to collect and been unsuccessful, then the creditor can revive it for another 10 years.

If the Court has not entered a stay as mentioned previously, then collection, or execution, of a judgment can occur immediately upon entry, unless an order or bond is entered to stay execution. Execution usually comes in the form of a garnishment. Garnishments are usually against wages but can be done against bank accounts also. Writs of sequestration (order for property to be seized) can be entered against your property or a court can order a sell of property.

If a judgment is entered in Circuit Court a lien is immediately placed against any real property (land/house) owned by the debtor, which would require payment of the debt in conjunction with the sale of the property.

If the available assets of a debtor are not known by the creditor he/she can file a notice of a “Debtor’s Exam” in order to discover assets. The debtor is placed under oath to testify as to his/her assets and the information can be used to collect the debt.

This article is not intended to be a substitute for legal counsel. If you need assistance please contact an attorney with whom you are familiar with and trust for advice on your specific set of circumstances.

Posted by Keith


Dissolution – What to Expect

Discovery:  During the initial whirlwind of your divorce, you will hear phrases like “Rule 68”, “interrogatories”, “request for production of documents”, “income and expense” and “assets and debts”. You will be handed page after page of forms to fill out and suddenly your head is swimming. You are already overwhelmed with the fact that your marriage has ended and now you are being bombarded.  The best piece of advice I can give to you at this point is to breathe and not to panic.

Rule 68 is a local rule that requires a mandatory exchange of paperwork in every divorce such as your income tax returns for the last three years and the most recent 6 paychecks. Rule 68 sets forth which documents must be exchanged and provides a time frame for when everything should be exchanged and/or answered.

The statement of income and expense form seeks information regarding your income, including withholding information, as well as your monthly expenses for yourself and any children that might be living with you. The statement of assets and debts seeks information about your assets such as cars, real property, certificates of deposits and your debts such as credit cards. On the assets portion, there is a place to list out household furnishings and a place for you to note who you believe should receive the items at the end of the divorce.  The best way to approach these two forms is to complete one section at a time without worrying about the rest of the document.

Separate from the Rule 68 are other forms of discovery. Interrogatories are a series of questions designed to elicit information specific to your case. The Request for Production of Documents is a series of questions which ask you to provide copies of items such as your bank statements or your mental or medical health records. Finally, Admissions are a series of questions that have either “admit” or “deny”. All three types of discovery need to be answered or objected to within 30 days.  This is especially true for Admissions. Failure to answer those particular set of questions within the necessary timeframes could result in the court believing that you have admitted all of the questions which could seriously damage and/or hinder your case.

Parent Education:  In cases involving children, you may be required to attend a parent education class. The purpose of the class is to “educate parents as to the possible detrimental effects of court actions on children and how to avoid these negative effects.” Depending upon the county, there may be deadlines to complete the class.

High Conflict:  In some counties, in highly contested cases, the parents may be ordered to attend an additional class that deals with high conflict. The end result of these classes is to help parents remember that while they are dealing with their own emotional trauma, they must be open to the fact that children experience their own emotional trauma during family law cases.

Alternative Dispute Resolution:  In Greene County the parties are ordered to attend ADR classes whereas in other counties the parties may be ordered to attend mediation.

Trial:  Unless your case ends in a settlement, then your case will go to trial. If you do not have counsel the judge may remind you that you will be held to the standard of an attorney and not given any special leeway because you are unrepresented. While you may be given some leeway, do not expect it. Even if you are represented by counsel being prepared for trial is as important for the client as it is for his/her attorney. Your attorney relies on your knowledge of the facts to prepare properly for trial. The days before trial, communication between the attorney and the client is even more important than at any other time.

On the day of trial, your appearance speaks volumes to the judge. You should be well groomed and well dressed. You should also be respectful of the judge and follow the bailiff’s instructions immediately. In smaller counties like Webster County, the bailiff is the judge’s only direct employee and in all courtrooms the bailiff is the judge’s first defense from angry participants.

In most courts, if they have not been handled already, the first course of business are pre-trial motions. These motions include limiting evidence, calling for “the rule” on witnesses (requiring non-party witnesses to sit outside until called for specifically) and an announcement of “ready for trial.” The judge will then probably ask whether a settlement has been reached or whether the parties want time to attempt to settle without trial. Parties can settle some issues and go to trial on the remaining unsettled issues.

Settlement:  In my office settlement will be discussed repeatedly from the first consultation to the day of trial and sometimes even after trial.  The parties themselves can talk to each other at any time and come to any agreement they wish, and our office always encourages it. Attorneys have an ethical and legal duty to present any and all settlements offered, even if it is absolutely detestable and the attorney feels completely confident his/her client will refuse it. That being said, clients who can settle are happier on a whole with the results than clients who leave it up to the judge in trial. If no settlement is forthcoming the attorneys will announce ready for trial.

Once trial has begun you will immediately recognize that it is an event bound by hundreds of rules. There are rules of evidence, rules of procedure, rules of decorum and many other miscellaneous rules. These rules often refer back to the original documents in the case, such as whether you asked for maintenance or attorneys fees in your Petition. If you did not ask for these items then opposing counsel will object if you request them at trial and the court will likely sustain the objection.

Other rules include what evidence can be admitted in trial. The most common type of evidence in dissolutions is testimony of the parties which is otherwise known as “giving their side of the story.” It is crucial that you are both honest and perceived as being honest. The judge will weigh your believability against your evidence and if you are not believable then your evidence will lose weight to the judge. This could decide your case. Being honest with your attorney is tantamount to him/her presenting your best case. ALWAYS provide your attorney with all the information requested, and even any other information that may not have been requested, in order for the attorney to be prepared if that information is presented at trial by the opposing party.

After trial is over the judge may make an immediate ruling and ask attorneys to prepare documents for his signature or take the case under advisement and ask the attorneys to prepare evidentiary arguments for his review. There are numerous post-trial motions that can extend a case but suffice it to say that most cases end at trial and the judge is prepared to enter judgment fairly quickly. The best statement I can make about trial is “whoever is best prepared usually wins.” An attorney needs the client’s full assistance to be prepared. Make yourself available, open up to your attorney, and give him/her everything he/she needs to present your case in the best light possible. And remember, throughout this whole process breathe.

Posted by Keith


How Do You Begin?

Spring brings thoughts of birth and rebirth but for many, becoming pregnant may be medically dangerous or impossible which makes adoption a beautiful and loving choice for them. Unfortunately it may seem difficult to know how to begin. To simplify matters, think of adoptions in this way – agency adoptions which involve a state child welfare agency placing a child for adoption and private adoptions which include either placement by a parent privately or placement by a private domestic or international agency; and step-parent adoptions.

As a birth parent, choosing to free your child for adoption is a loving and beautiful choice. Many parents fear the label of “bad parent” if they place their child for adoption when it may be the most selfless act of love that a parent can ever make. As a proud adoptee I simply want to help children achieve the life that they so richly deserve.

To locate an agency the internet is a valuable resource. For the Missouri Children’s Division, go to the Missouri Children’s Division where you can find a wealth of information to begin the process. For domestic or international adoptions click go to Adoption Agencies By State to find a list of agencies by state. It is important to look up any reviews of the agency you want to work with and try to locate a parent group for advice and support from those who have been through the process already.

In all but a select few situations, you must go through a home study. If you use a state agency, you might be asked to go through classes as many adoptions begin as foster placements during which a home study will be completed.  The home study is a written report to the court which includes information regarding the condition of your home as well as your educational, financial, marital, medical and psychological status. Things you might be asked to do include providing the names of personal and professional references, undergoing a physical, and providing information about your family history. You must also undergo a criminal background check which might include a check of the state’s child abuse and neglect registry and submitting your fingerprints to the FBI. The report’s conclusion is whether you would be recommended as an adoptive placement. In many cases, there may be a cost associated with the home study.

Except in exceedingly rare situations, you must have an approved home study to complete your journey. The one case where a home study may be waived is in a step-parent adoption where the ex-spouse has signed a voluntary consent to the adoption. However, you will still have to undergo a criminal background check.

In private and state agency adoptions, the home study will come first.  In state agency adoptions where you are the foster parent, you will have gone through a home study to ensure that you are suitable to accept placement of a child as a foster parent.  The home study will then be updated and turned into an adoption home study once you are chosen through a process called an adoption staffing.  In private adoptions that do not include an agency the home study will be ordered by your attorney during the process and after the child has been placed with you. This holds true for step-parent adoptions as well if the non-custodial parent has not signed a consent.

In private agency and private placement adoptions the birth parents will sign a power of attorney handing over legal authority to either the agency or the adoptive parents.  The birth parents will also sign a consent to termination of their parental rights.  In cases of newborns, this permits the adoptive parents to go home with the child.

At some point, depending upon when an attorney became involved, the paperwork process begins.  In all but state agency adoptions, the paperwork can be filed with the court immediately (or in the case of newborns 48 hours after the baby is born).  In state agency adoptions, the adoptive parents enter into a contract with the state known as an adoption subsidy.  This is a contract between the adoptive parent and the state wherein the state offers to perform certain tasks such as maintaining the child on Medicaid, covering certain medical and/or mental health needs for the child, and paying for the legal fees associated with the adoption.  In the contract is a start date. Depending upon which county the adoption is being filed in the paperwork can either be filed immediately or only after the start date however, regardless of the county the adoption cannot be completed until after the start date.  Each county handles the start date a little differently.  It is vitally important to know when the start date is because completing an adoption before the start date nullifies the contract and, at least the legal fees, will be the responsibility of the adoptive parent.

Once the paperwork is filed, it is time to schedule the matter for a transfer of custody hearing.  At that hearing, the court will grant legal custody with the adoptive parents.  After that, under Missouri law, six months must pass before the adoption can be finalized.  In some cases, where a person has had “lawful and actual” custody of the child for a period of six months or longer the transfer of custody period may be waived.  This is in instances of step-parent adoptions, foster children, children under guardianship, and, other limited situations.

In either case, at the hearing to finalize the adoption, the Court terminates the parental rights of the biological parents and finds the adoptive parents to be the natural parents.  Birth certificates are ordered, names are changed, and the child is now deemed to be the child of the adoptive parents as though born to them.

This is a short explanation of the process.  There are more steps involved.  Many attorneys will advertise that they handle adoptions even though they have never filed a single one.  Adoptions are complex and require strict adherence to Missouri Law.  Any failure to complete a step along the way could subject the adoption to being overturned down the road.  Speak with several attorneys before choosing one so that you are comfortable that you have chosen an attorney knowledgeable in the adoption process.

Posted by Keith