Family Court Lawyer Missouri

Divorce & Family Law Attorney Kansas City MO | Child Custody

Almost everyone wants what's best for the children in a divorce, and the law is no exception. The state of Missouri is legally required to decide child custody matters based on the best interests of the children. Judges are not permitted to grant sole custody based only on one parent's gender, income, location or any other factor. Both parents are likely to get at least some custody unless one parent has committed domestic violence or abuse, has a substance abuse problem or is in prison. Parents with these problems may be granted supervised visitation.

Factors the court must consider, by law, include:

  • The wishes of the parents and any written parenting plan they've agreed on.
  • The wishes of the children, if they're old enough to decide.
  • The ability and willingness of each parent to be a good parent, and the children's need for a meaningful relationship with both.
  • The children's relationship with siblings or other people who can affect their best interests.
  • Which parent is most likely to allow the other to have a meaningful relationship with the children.
  • The children's adjustment to a home, school and community.
  • The mental and physical health of everyone involved.
  • Whether either parent plans to move. (Parents cannot by law leave Missouri before a divorce is final.)

There are two different and coexisting types of child custody:

  • Physical custody is exactly what it sounds like - who has the children at any given time. When children are in your physical custody, you're responsible for feeding, sheltering and supervising them.
  • Legal custody is the legal responsibility and right to make decisions for the child. Legal custody gives a parent access to the child's grades, medical records and other information, and decision-making power in those areas.

In joint physical custody, both parents have at least some time with the children, though it doesn't necessarily have to be equal time. Joint legal custody means both parents have equal access to the child's information and must make legal decisions together. Although it's rare for one parent to be granted sole physical custody, it's even rarer for only one parent to be given sole legal custody. However, if a court does grant sole legal custody to one parent, it's very difficult for the other parent to reverse. For that reason, it's essential to make sure you're well-represented from the start of your child custody case.

Related posts: