When a couple chooses to divorce, one of the first questions asked is, “Who will get custody of our child?” Sadly, child custody is one of the toughest and most litigated issues in any divorce.
The best way for parents to handle custody of their child is to work together to make an agreement they can both support. The parents will avoid a long, expensive court battle, and it will spare their child from additional emotional turmoil. When parents are unable to reach an agreement regarding child custody, then a court must decide the outcome.
How is Child Custody in Missouri Decided?
As in most states in the U.S, Missouri’s child custody laws follow the standard of what is in the “best interests of the child.” Each parent has an opinion about what is in a child’s best interest; however, what a parent believes or wants is only one factor that a court must consider. The court considers many different factors before any decision is made about child custody.
In family and custody law, the state of Missouri attempts to give each parent a completely unbiased chance at obtaining custody rights of their child. Missouri does not give preference to mothers. Missouri does not give preference in child custody decisions based upon the age or sex of the child.
Examples of Child Custody Arrangements in Missouri
According to Missouri child custody law, the court can consider several different types of custody arrangements. Again, the ultimate goal is to do whatever is in the best interests of the child. Some of the different types of custody are:
Joint Legal Custody
Both parents have an equal say in all matters regarding how they will raise their child. This can include decisions on education, health, religious beliefs, and other issues that affect the welfare of the child.
Joint Physical Custody
Physical custody determines the amount of time the child lives with each parent each year. It may not necessarily be equal amounts of time to be considered joint.
Joint Legal and Physical Custody Examples
Joint legal custody to both parents with sole physical custody to one parent
Joint physical and legal custody to both parents
Joint physical custody to both parents and sole legal custody to only one
When one parent is awarded sole custody, the other parent is given visitation rights. Sometimes it’s necessary to have supervised visitation if there were instances of neglect or abuse.
4 Steps To Gain Custody Of A Child
1. Maintain a respectable and polite demeanor at all times
Do not engage in verbal or physical confrontations with the other parent or your child at any time. Avoid talking to anyone negatively about the other parent, especially mutual friends. Don’t post anything online, in an email, text message, or anywhere else that you would be ashamed or embarrassed for a judge to hear or read.
If at all possible, refrain from dating and do not introduce a new love interest to your child during custody proceedings. Do not use the child as a pawn between you and the other parent. Above all, prove that you have the child’s best interest in mind first.
2. Do not neglect any parental responsibilities
If you owe child support, pay child support on time. If you’re responsible for taking your child to a particular event, stick to your word. Do not neglect your responsibilities. You need to show you’re an active and vital part of your child’s everyday life and that you’ll provide continuity whenever possible. If you have an agreed-upon custody schedule or a temporary custody schedule, make sure you follow it. Do not ask the other parent or the court for time with your child and then fail to exercise that time.
3. Plan for a Child Custody Schedule
You need to plan for how you intend to spend time with your child. You need to think realistically about the amount of time you can spend with your child and when you can actually exercise that time. You may have work commitments or professional responsibilities. Talk to your employer and see if your employer can provide you any flexibility in your work schedule. If your child is or will be attending school, you need to think about the arrangements you need to make to drop off or pick up your child from school. If you’re married and going through a divorce, you will most likely no longer spend holidays with your spouse. Think about a holiday schedule. Give some thought as to any holiday or special traditions you would like to continue
4. Obtain legal counsel that specializes in family law
Divorce and custody cases are usually filled with animosity and a get-even mentality. Both parties are often filled with anxiety and nervousness. You need a lawyer who will keep you grounded while pursuing the best interests of you and your child.
Scott Hamblin works to provide reassurance to his clients. By explaining the process and the law, Scott will take the confusion and stress out of the case. At our firm, we provide a full support team to assist you. The goal is to work efficiently and save you time and money. If you and your ex are willing to work together, Scott can also assist with settlement negotiations and family law mediation to resolve situations without trial. This will provide a quicker and less emotional resolution for everyone, especially your child.
If you are unable to reach an agreement, then reach out and Scott can assist you in preparing for court and trial. Scott has more than twenty years of experience litigating cases. He has tried divorce and custody cases in numerous courts throughout Missouri.