When parents split or divorce, their first concern is their children. Parents have a lot questions about child custody and how Missouri’s family court determines which custody arrangement is best. They want to be sure their child adjusts to their new living arrangements and deal with such a drastic change to their daily life.
Which Child Custody Arrangement is Preferred?
Family courts in Missouri prefer joint custody arrangements. This custody arrangement gives each parent equal time with a child and allows them both to have input into a child’s upbringing. Family courts in Missouri prefer joint custody because many studies have shown the arrangement helps children cope with divorce.
Other custody arrangements in Missouri include:
Joint Legal Custody
Sole Physical Custody
Sole Legal Custody
While family courts prefer joint custody, there are circumstances that can result in one parent being awarded sole custody. Those circumstances include:
Prior child or spousal abuse
A history or drug or alcohol abuse
Trying to turn a child against the other parent
Unstable living arrangements
How to Request Custody in Missouri?
To file for child custody in Missouri, follow these steps:
- Get all your documents together including the child’s birth certificate,
- Fill out and submit a Petition for Child Custody, which you can download from here: https://www.courts.mo.gov/page.jsp?id=38352. Each county may have different forms so check with the court in your area to be sure you have the right form.
- Once the petition is completed
- A summons is prepared to notify the other parent of your custody request.
- You may be asked to attend a parent orientation before your case is allowed to proceed.
- Once your estranged partner responds, the court may ask both of you to enter mediation to come up with a child custody arrangement.
- Develop a parenting plan.
Family Court Locations in Missouri:
Missouri Courts – Family Justice Center
625 E 26th St., Kansas City, MO 64108
St Louis County Family Court
4568 Lemay Ferry Rd, St. Louis, MO 63129
16th Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri
415 E 12th St, Kansas City, MO 64106
If one parent is a granted sole physical custody, the other parent may be granted visitation, which means parents will need to come up with a visitation schedule which needs to be approved by a judge. You can get advice or help with negotiations if you and your estranged husband or wife cannot agree on a visitation schedule.
A parent who is denied visitation can petition the court and follow a judge’s recommendation to have their parental rights restored.
Should I Hire a Child Custody Lawyer?
Whether you need help figuring out a custody arrangement, a visitation schedule or getting child support, you could use the help of a child custody lawyer in Missouri. An attorney can assist you with all aspects of your child custody case and work to protect your child’s well-being.