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St. Louis Missouri Legal Blog

Criminal defense attorneys will monitor new role for deputies

Sheriff's deputies in Missouri can make arrests just like police officers. Well, that is, everywhere in the state except in St. Louis. That is going to change quickly, however, because the state legislature passed a law in May that gives St. Louis sheriff's deputies the same arrest powers as deputies throughout the state. Criminal defense attorneys may be keeping a sharp lookout at the new practices to assure that defendant's rights are being protected in the transition that looms ahead.

St. Louis has been the only sheriff's department in Missouri where deputies are confined to providing courtroom security, serving a summons and transporting prisoners. There will be a period of training and certification of individual deputies before they can function in their new capacity. The current Sheriff of St. Louis stated that the department will meet all professional standards met by sheriff's offices across the state.

Divorce is not necessarily bad for the health

The last thing one person in a couple is likely to believe is that splitting up may actually be good for his or her health. Divorce won't necessarily make Missouri residents unhealthy. Researchers in London found those who have remarried after their divorces aren't more prone to having cardiovascular or respiratory ailments in middle age than those who have remained married.

Divorce in the 21st century has come a long way. It is no longer stigmatized. The thought of the day is that when it's over, it's over. Get uncoupled and move forward with life anew. It seems that the end of the baby boomers who cohabit without marriage or who have divorced have similar health to those who marry. 

Missouri legislature passes major change in juvenile law

Missouri will be coming into line with 45 other states with respect to the age at which a person is automatically charged as an adult. For many years, the state criminal laws have set 17 as the age for being charged as an adult. That will change to age 18 due to a new statute passed overwhelmingly by both houses of the General Assembly. The juvenile law doctrine that gives the prosecution the ability to move the court to have certain juveniles prosecuted as adults will still apply.  

The law, however, does not take effect until 2 1/2 years from now. The measure is hoped to lower incarceration rates in Missouri while bringing the state into compliance with a national standard for delineating adulthood in the state and federal criminal courts.  There is a vast difference in the way the prosecution processes an adult prosecution compared to a juvenile proceeding. There is a similarly vast difference between how punishment is handled in the two systems. 

3 assets that may be difficult to divide

Divorce is rarely an easy process, but there are certainly some parts that are more difficult than others. Issues such as property division tend to be the most contentious, but there are steps you can take to mitigate any conflict and ensure you get what you need out of the settlement.

Asset division is a particularly tricky part of divorce if you do not have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Even without such a contract, though, you can deal with property division in a way that is productive and minimally stressful. Enlisting help from a legal representative may make the process even easier, and this is especially true when it comes to handling any of the following three difficult-to-divide assets: 

Joint custody of older children

For younger children, there are many factors when deciding child custody. Small children have countless needs that must be met, and they are not able to make important decisions on their own.

Older children need a much different parenting style than younger children, so the process of deciding who lives where and when can be significantly different.

Divorce sometimes includes negotiations over the family dog

There is a growing realization among most people, including here in Missouri, that domestic pets are cherished family members. People readily find that each domestic animal has a distinct personality of its own, and the animal's loyalty and unswerving affection toward its care keepers is reciprocated by its human counterparts. Stories abound of dogs who react valiantly to save their owners in emergencies, and dogs are recruited to calm and comfort the elderly and people who are hospitalized. It is no wonder, therefore, that the decision of who gets the family dog in divorce can raise nearly as much strife as a dispute over child custody or visitation.

Despite the increasing bond between humans and animals, only two states view domestic pets as anything other than property. This creates a degree of uncertainty when divorcing parties cannot decide on the disposition of their pets during a divorce. Where each party has a special bond with the animal, they often cannot agree to a satisfactory custodial arrangement.

Ranking states according to child custody equality

With Father's Day approaching, many dads may be thinking about how they will spend the day with their kids. Their custody arrangements likely include Father's Day weekend so the children can celebrate the influence of their dads in their lives. Missouri dads going through divorce may be encouraged by the recent child custody trends that provide a more balanced time for the children to be with both parents. Although shared parenting looks good on paper, a recent study shows that it may not be put into practice as often as it should be.

The Custody X Change, a website that provides access to parenting schedules for both parents, conducted a survey to determine how well states are doing in providing the equal parenting that their laws require. About 40 states have laws requiring family courts to divide parenting time as equitably as possible when parents are no longer living together. Of course, the court makes exceptions in cases such as when there is abuse, incarceration or parents living in different states.

Child custody is a co-parenting partnership for the children

At least in theory, Missouri and most other states have adopted the modern view that parents should share equally the burdens and joys of raising their children after a divorce. Studies have consistently reported more positive outcomes for children who had both parents remaining active in their lives after a divorce. That does not necessarily mean that the hours with the children each week should be split down the middle; instead, it refers to child custody being a shared experience with an equal commitment by both parents to the children's upbringing.

Shared custody requires a continuing partnership between the divorced former spouses. Although it is difficult for most people, the feelings of ill will or negativity toward the other parent must be subdued and replaced by a positive attitude of working together for the best interest of the children. Other obstacles may exist, such as opposing parenting styles, the tendency to use the children against the other parent, unreliable schedules, breaking promises and possessiveness over the children.

Divorce negotiations can find a plan to pay college tuitions

Divorce in Missouri generally follows the contours of procedure and substance that exist in other states. Although each state has its own variations, most divorce statutes today have a provision for a no-fault divorce. This means that neither party has to be blamed for causing the dissolution of the marriage.

Nonetheless, no fault divorces can get just as contentious due to the need to engage in equitable property distribution and the determination of custody, support and alimony. Where there are children who will be going to college, the negotiations should take up the issue of financing their college educations. This can raise real problems with the average tuition per year being $46,950 according to the College Board.

Adoptive parents win child custody battle with natural father

In Missouri and other states, a natural parent does not always have superior rights to his or her child over an adoptive parent. Where a natural parent tries to challenge the rights of adoptive parents after the adoption has been duly processed and finalized by court order, the biological parent will usually have a tough legal challenge to overcome. However, each child custody case by necessity involves a very personal and in-depth determination that cannot be predicted in advance.

The Supreme Court of another state recently resolved a child custody case between adoptive parents and the biological father. The adoptive parents were originally the child's foster parents, a role they assumed when the girl was 3-weeks-old. After a few years in that capacity, they adopted the girl when the biological mother relinquished her parental rights.

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