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Clayton Family Law Attorney – Establishing Paternity Of A Child

As a Clayton family law attorney, I often see clients who haven’t established the paternity of a child in their life and they have a situation where they need to do so. In order to set up custody arrangements, visitation arrangements or child support, paternity must be established.

In Missouri, paternity is presumed in a few instances. For example, if a child’s natural mother and a man are married or have been married and a child is born either during or within 300 days after the marriage ends, the man is presumed to be the father. Paternity is also presumed if a man is obliged to pay child support, has been named the father on the birth certificate or he otherwise recorded his paternity and filed it with the Missouri Bureau of Vital Records. A Clayton family law attorney can help in this process should you need to determine paternity for a child. Continue reading

Brentwood Family Law Attorney – Who Determines Final Custody Arrangements In A Divorce

Child custody can oftentimes be the most important area defined in a divorce. When working out the terms, it is crucial you have an aggressive Brentwood family law attorney who will fight for a good arrangement that will work for you.

If the two parties in a divorce cannot agree on a custody arrangement, an experienced Brentwood family law attorney will draft a proposed parenting plan outlining what solution may work and why it is the best option. According to Missouri law, no preference is given to either parent due to a parent’s age, sex or financial status. Additionally, the age or sex of the child cannot be a factor in determining custody. Continue reading

Adoptions On Hold From Cambodia; May Be More Difficult From South Korea

The United States Department of State issued a notice they are unable to process inter-country adoptions in Cambodia currently under the Hague Convention. 

According to their press release, Cambodia has worked to strengthen its child welfare system along with improving the integrity of both domestic and foreign adoptions, but is still lacking a fully functional Convention process in place. 

The Department of State caution that many important steps need to occur between the United States and Cambodia before adoptions may resume and no adoption service providers should initiate nor claim to initiate adoption services in Cambodia for prospective adoptive parents until those steps have been taken and they receive notice from the Department of State. 

This week, the Department of State also announced the Republic of Korea Special Adoption Act, governing South Korean adoptions, took effect last August. The new law prioritizes domestic adoptions in an attempt to reduce the number of South Korean children adopted  abroad. 

The ROK's Ministry of Health and Welfare informed the United States Embassy in Seoul that adoptions in process, but not completed by August 5, 2012 will  be subject to the new law. Adoption agencies in Seoul confirmed to the Department of State that the files of all children under last year's quota who had not received Emigration Permits prior to that date are now being sent to the Family Court for approval once the Emigration Permits are issued. 

Adoption can be an exciting, but stressful time for a family. There are many legal hoops to jump through before a child's adoption can be completed. If you are seeking to adopt a child, it is in your best interest to speak with a Missouri family attorney who can help you navigate the court system in the process. Contact us today for your free, initial consultation.

To find out the latest on international adoptions, check out the Department of State's web site >>>

New Law Bars U.S. Adoptions Of Russian Children

A controversial new Russian law could prevent many U.S. families from bringing Russian children to the United States and completing their adoptions, making the children part of their families.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a controversial measure Friday that could affect hundreds of families from the United States seeking to adopt Russian children. According to U.S. State Department statistics, United States families adopted close to 1,000 Russian children last year and have adopted 60,000 Russian children over the past 20 years. The U.S. State Department called the move a "politically motivated decision" that will "reduce adoption possibilities for children who are now under institutional care."

They said they are concerned about statements from the Russian government saying adoptions underway may also be stopped and said they are hoping the Russian government to allow those adoptions to be finalized.

The law, Federal Law No. 186614-6 was approved by unanimous vote December 26 before being signed by Putin today.

The U.S. Department of State is asking families currently in the process of adopting a Russian child to reach out to the Department of State at AskCI@state.gov to provide information concerning where they are in the adoption process.

Stricter laws have been considered since a 7-year-old Russian boy was sent back to Russian by his adopted mom with a note saying she did not want him anymore. According to reports, 19 Russian children who have been adopted into U.S. homes have died after their adoptions. Many of the pending adoptions are those of special needs children in institutionalized care. Their prospective adoptive families are holding their breath, hoping their adoptions will go through. Many of the facilities lack the resources to meet those children’s needs.

The new measure also bars any political activities by non-governmental organizations receiving funds from the United States if those activities affect Russian interests.

The law takes effect January 1 and will include a list of U.S. citizens prohibited from entering Russia as well as suspend the activity of any legal entities controlled by these people in Russia.

The bill was a response to the Magnitsky Act, a law signed into law by President Obama earlier this month barring Russian citizens accused of violating human rights from traveling to the United States and from owning real estate or other assets here.

Adopting a child can be a long and difficult process. If you are considering adopting, it is best to consult a family attorney who can help you navigate the legal waters and help you complete your family. Call today for your free, initial consultation.

Study To Focus On Increase In Child Custody Cases

Researchers are studying why the number of child custody battles in Sweden has risen by 60 percent in the past six years. 

Analysts from Lund University announced they will study at least 1,000 parents, mapping out the ethnicity and class background of the parents and plan to look at other contributing factors such as social and financial crises, cultural or religious difference, substance abuse and mental health issues. The research project is expected to be the biggest of its kind.

If you are facing any type of child custody battle, it is important to obtain an attorney who can not only fight for you, but can protect who is most important in your life. Contact us today for a free, initial consultation.

Mother Detained In Immigration Raid Stripped Of Parental Rights

In a ruling last week, the Carthage, Missouri couple will retain custody of a young boy separated from his mother five years ago in an immigration raid.

The Greene County judge ruled against the Guatemalan mother Wednesday, determining the boy, who will be six this fall, should stay with Melinda and Seth Moser who officially adopted the boy in 2008. 

The complicated case began when Bail Romero was arrested during an immigration raid in Barry County, Mo. at a poultry plant where she worked. Her son, who she had named Carlos, was six months old. As she remained in jail, the boy was cared for by relatives, then others. After five months, the Mosers began caring for the boy in their house. They filed for adoption. 

This case has garnered international attention. Attorneys for the woman said she was originally handed notice of the adoption in English while incarcerated and did not have legal counsel for at least two months after the Mosers began to pursue the adoption. 

Although the initial adoption was granted, an appeals panel overturned the trail court decision, saying that court lacked the authority to grant such an adoption. Then the Missouri State Supreme Court heard the case in January 2011 and ordered a new trial. 

The boy, who goes by the name Jamison, is both a United States and Guatemalan citizen, but only speaks English. Romero’s attorneys said they were reviewing the ruling and deciding whether to file an appeal.

If you need to deal with a legal matter in family courts, you need a qualified St. Louis attorney by your side. Call today for a free, initial consultation.

Custody Battle Leads To Lawmakers Considering Adoption Rights Bill

A six-year custody battle in the Missouri Supreme Court has led lawmakers to consider a bill making it legal for a baby born to unmarried parents to be given up for adoption without the consent of the father. 

If the bill is passed into law. the proposed law would make an unmarried father's consent unnecessary if he has not been actively involved in the prenatal care and natal care of the child.  

A father would have to show a "consistent and substantial relationship" with the infant, unless actively stopped by the mother, in order to have a claim. 

This could include helping provide financial support for prenatal needs to the baby's mother; helping pay for medical expenses associated with child birth; making regular visitation and contact with the child; and assisting in the child's education and medical needs.

The bill was in response to a 2007 Missouri Supreme Court decision involving a child given up for adoption. In Missouri, a father is required to declare paternity within 15 days of a child's birth, but the father, Craig Lentz, hadn't because he was awaiting the results of a paternity test.

In the meantime, the child was placed in a Texas couple's house with the intent for the couple to adopt the child. Lentz sought an intervention in the adoption proceedings.He eventually regained custody of the child in 2011. 

Opponents of the bill argue that such a bill would take away a father's parental rights. Advocates, however, said the bill will help streamline adoptions for both for adoptive parents and for children. 

If you are facing any type of custody battle or adoption proceedings, you need a Missouri family attorney who will fight on your behalf and help guide you through the process. Call today for your free, initial consultation.

New Paternity Test May Determine Father Earlier, Safer Than Other Methods

A new test may pinpoint the father of a child as early as eight weeks into the pregnancy, according to a small study published in The New England Journal of Medicine. 

The study used a paternity test made by Ravgen, a Maryland company. According to the New York Times, the tests run from $950 to $1,650. Another company has a similar test that has not been studied. 

The test takes two blood samples from the mother and one from the prospective father or fathers  and then measures DNA fragments of the unborn baby, which is present in the mother's blood. The results from the study, albeit small, showed it to be reliable and that the test correctly identified the father in 30 cases. 

Tests such as amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling, which can occur between 10 and 20 weeks of pregnancy can also determine paternity, but they also run a higher risk for causing a miscarriage. 

The American Association of Blood Banks has not certified either test. A test must be certified before a person may be able to use the results from such a test in child custody cases.

Supporters of the test said that using such a test could help pregnant women get the support they need, emotional, monetary or both, even before a child is born. It may allow for a child support arrangement and custody arrangement to occur as well before birth. 

If you need legal advice concerning any type of family matters, it is important to speak with a St. Louis family law attorney. Call today for your free, initial consultation.

U.S. House Approves International Child Support Treaty

The U.S. House approved legislation earlier this month requiring the United States to cooperate with foreign countries in efforts to locate parents who owe child support to children living abroad as well as help the U.S. find parents who owe child support and are living abroad. 

The legislation, called the International Child Support Recovery Improvement Act implements a 2010 treaty approved by the U.S. Senate – the Hague Convention on International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance. Proponents said implementing this treaty reduces barriers for child who are owed support from a parent overseas.

The bill authorizes authorities to comply with the treaty as well as share information on the location of the parents owing support. 
Reportedly, the countries participating in the treat are all European Union countries, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Norway, Ukraine and the United States. 
If you are facing a new custody agreement, it is best to have an attorney by your side, looking out for your interests. Contact our office today for a free, initial consultation.

Contact Us

Jeffrey A. Heater
Attorney at Law

5205 Hampton Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63109

Phone: (314) 541-7421

Fax: (314) 932-7672


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