Child Custody Lawyer in St Louis
In 2018, the child custody laws in Missouri changed, doing away with the winner-take-all mindset that gripped custody cases for years. Traditionally, custody plans gave mothers sole custody while divorced fathers were allowed visitation over the weekend. Now, separating parents have significantly more control over the time they spend with their children.
When going through a custody case, it’s essential to have a child custody lawyer who understands how important it is to maintain a relationship with your child. At St Louis Family Law Group, we understand the dynamics of custody cases and how the outcome can affect everyone involved. Our child custody lawyer will advocate for you to protect your child’s interests and yours as a parent.
Types of Custody
Under Missouri law, there are two concepts of custody:
This refers to which parent has possession of the child. Courts recognize two types of physical custody:
- Joint physical custody: If a child spends significant – but not necessarily equal – time with both parents, it is considered joint physical custody. The child may reside with or be under both parents’ supervision and care. Joint custody is planned in such a way that ensures that the child has frequent, meaningful and continuous contact with each parent.
- Sole physical custody: Sole custody means that the child resides with and spends most of their time with a single custodial parent. In such cases, the non-custodial parent may still have visitation rights to see their child from time to time. If the courts have found the non-custodial parent guilty of neglect or abuse of the child, they may only be allowed supervised visitation.
Legal custody determines which parent has the legal power to make decisions affecting a child’s welfare. There are two types of legal custody under Missouri law:
- Sole legal custody: Only one parent is responsible for making major decisions for the child. The other parent often doesn’t have a say in these decisions.
- Joint legal custody: Parents consult each other and share decision-making power for the child.
If you and your ex-spouse do not reach an agreement during mediation, the courts will decide on sole or joint custody. In most cases, courts favor joint legal and physical custody, allowing both parents to spend time with the child and make decisions together regarding the child’s education, medical treatment, financial affairs and general welfare. Our child custody lawyer will help guide you through the process.
How Will the Court Determine Custody?
A judge determines custody cases based on the best interests of the child – not of the parents. To make an informed decision, they consider various factors, such as:
- The parenting plan submitted by each parent, stipulating their wishes
- Either parent’s intention to relocate the child
- The child’s wishes regarding their custody
- The child’s relationship with their parents, siblings and other relatives who can significantly affect their welfare
- Each parent’s willingness to encourage the child to maintain a healthy relationship with the other parent
- The child’s adjustment to home, community and school
- The mental and physical health of both parents
- Any history of abuse (emotional, verbal or physical) or neglect