Missouri Child Custody FAQ

Answers to Common Questions

If you face a child custody case in Missouri, you may have many questions. What is the best way to protect my child's interests? How will custody be determined? Who will get parenting time? This blog post will answer some of the most common child custody questions in Missouri. Keep in mind that every case is different and you should speak with an attorney if you have specific questions about your situation.

How is Custody Determined?

In Missouri, child custody is determined based upon a number of different factors the court must consider, including the following:

  • 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 a frequent, continuing, and meaningful relationship with both parents and the ability and willingness of each parent to actively perform their functions as mother or father;

  • the interaction and interrelationship of the child with parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interests;

  • which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent, continuing contact with the non-custodial parent;

  • the child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;

  • the mental and physical health of all individuals involved;

  • evidence of domestic violence or child abuse by either parent or other members of the household;

  • whether the actions of either parent to establish a positive relationship with the child is impaired by drug or alcohol abuse; and

  • any other factors relevant to the child's best interests.

Missouri courts presume that joint legal custody is in the child's best interests. In deciding on joint physical custody, the court will consider each of these factors as well. However, there is no presumption in favor of joint physical custody. The court may award sole physical custody if it determines doing so is in the child's best interests.

How Much Time Will I Have With My Child?

The amount of time you have with your child depends on the parenting schedule that is ordered by the court. The parenting schedule will detail when the child will be in each parent’s care. The parenting schedule is based on what is in the child's best interest. Missouri law does not presume that any particular custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child, so each case is decided on its own facts.

What Makes Up a Child's Best Interests?

In a Missouri child custody case, the court will always consider the best interests of the child when making any decisions. There are many factors that the court will take into account when determining what is in the child's best interests. Some of these factors include:

  • The child's age

  • The child's physical and emotional health

  • The child's relationship with each parent

  • Each parent's ability to care for the child

  • The stability of each home environment

  • The distance between each home

  • Each parent's work schedule

  • The child's preference (if the child is old enough to express a preference)

Parents should keep in mind that the courts will look at all of these factors when making a decision and that no one factor is more important than the others. It is important to remember that the child's best interests are always the top priority. Parents should also keep in mind that they can reach an agreement on child custody without going to court. If parents are able to agree on a custody arrangement, they can submit their agreement to the court for approval.

Do I Need an Attorney?

You may be asking yourself whether you need an attorney to represent you in your child custody case. The answer is not always clear-cut, but there are some general guidelines that can help you make the decision.

If you have a complex custody arrangement, or if there is a history of domestic violence or abuse, it is generally advisable to hire an attorney. An experienced child custody attorney will be able to protect your rights and advocate for your best interests throughout the legal process. Even if your case is relatively simple, having an attorney can give you peace of mind knowing that someone is on your side and working hard to get the best outcome possible for you and your children.

At Rutter and Sleeth Law Offices, kids come first. We work hard to provide our clients with the personalized attention they deserve, and we will aim to meet your needs and the needs of your child throughout your case. Learn more about child custody in Missouri or schedule your consultation by calling us at (573) 279-1349 or by visiting us online.