How Does the Court Determine Who Gets Custody of Any Children of the Marriage?

When parents get divorced or decide that their current custody arrangement is not working, they can petition the court to determine who gets custody of a child. Custody is determined pursuant to the Best Interest of the Child. While the court makes this decision, having a strong advocate on your side can make a world of difference. Call us today at (573) 995-4077 to discuss your child custody case!

Father and Daughter

Best Interest of the Child Factors

Under Missouri law, the best interest of the child is the analysis by which the court is bound in making a decision. Simply put, the factors the court considers are as follows:

  • The wishes of the child’s parents as to custody and the proposed parenting plan submitted by both parties.
  • The needs of the child for continuing contact and a relationship with both parents; and the ability and willingness of each parent to play an active role in the child’s life.
  • The interaction and interrelationship of the child with parents, siblings, and any other person who the child will have significant contact with.
  • Which parent is more likely to allow the child to have a relationship with the other parent?
  • The child’s adjustment to school, home, and community.
  • The physical and mental health of all individuals involved.
  • The intention of either parent is to relocate the child.
  • The wishes of the child.

The court will consider all relevant factors.

The Parenting Plan

A parenting plan is essentially a contract between the parents. The parenting plan outlines the rights and responsibilities of each party. One provision of a parenting plan is physical custody vs legal custody.

Physical Custody is much like it sounds. Physical custody determines the time each parent will physically spend with the child.

Joint physical custody means an order awarding each of the parents significant but not necessarily equal, periods of time during which the child resides with or is under the care and supervision of each of the parents. Joint physical custody shall be shared by the parents in such a way as to assure the child of substantial, frequent, continuing, and meaningful contact with both parents. RSMo. §452.375.1(3)

Legal Custody is comprised of three types of decisions: 1) Major decisions 2) daily or everyday decisions and 3) emergency decisions.

Major decisions are life-altering decisions such as choice of school; religion; selection of child care providers; major medical care, surgery, etc.

Daily decisions would be things such as minor medical treatment, bedtime routines, chores, clothing, and other normal daily decisions.

Emergency decisions are decisions that affect the health and safety of the child, which have to be made prior to contacting the other parent because of urgency.

Other provisions of a parenting plan include things such as claiming the child for tax purposes, holiday schedules, and health insurance. Parenting plans typically range from basic or standard to complex based on the circumstances of the parents and the child.

If you have questions related to child custody, please contact us today at (573) 995-4077

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