Steps in appealing a child custody ruling

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Child Custody on Wednesday, February 26, 2020.

Parents who are unhappy with a judge’s child custody ruling might wonder how they can appeal it. First, they should make sure they understand the rules that are specific to Missouri.

Usually, it is not possible to appeal the child custody order until it is final and complete. During the process of determining custody, courts may issue what might be known as interlocutory or temporary orders. These cannot be appealed. The complete custody order that the court finally releases is supposed to include a resolution of all the parents’ custody issues.

Parents who want to appeal this final order may want to consider contacting an attorney. The attorney may be able to assist in preparing the brief that appeals the order. However, parents should go into this process knowing that the judge will still make a decision that is based on the best interests of the child. Furthermore, they will not be permitted to introduce new witnesses or testimony. The ruling in an appeal will be based on the original information the court received and the brief prepared by the attorney. In most cases, the parent will not appear before or have any contact with the appellate court judge.

Protecting the parent-child relationship is important to a court, but keeping the child safe is as well. A parent who develops concerns about the child’s safety with the other parent or who needs to make changes for other reasons after the child custody decision has been finalized may want to talk to an attorney about how to seek a change. Parents might also informally agree on a modification, but it can still be important to get this modification approved if it is not just a short-term change. Having a legal agreement in place protects both parents and children.

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