When a mother and father can’t agree about which parent will be the custodial parent of their child or children, or when the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent can’t come to an agreement about the day-to-day care of the child or children, a judge may decide in the best interest of the child or children to award custody to one of the parents. In the past, the court did not have a great deal of flexibility in determining custody; it usually deferred to what was found in the custody statutes of the state. These statutes had the guidelines that the courts used to determine who the custodial parent was likely to be.
Today, most states have statutory guidelines for Missouri child custody determinations. Often these guidelines require that the judge consider all of the relevant factors surrounding the child or children involved. One of the most significant of those factors is the best interests of the child. The court takes into consideration how the child would be able to achieve a meaningful relationship with both parents if the parent was not granted custody. Factors such as the ages of the children, whether either parent has any previous criminal records, their current living situation, the ability of each parent to provide physical care, and the amount of time they have spent with the child must all be taken into consideration.
Generally speaking, Missouri child custody laws allow sole physical custody, joint physical custody, equal parenting time, frequent visits (occasional), and paid visitation. When joint physical custody is awarded, the non-custodial parent is likely to have supervised visitation with the child. During this time, both parents play an active role in the child’s life, and the non-custodial parent may spend long periods of time at the residence of the child. If sole physical custody is granted, only one parent is permitted to visit the child on a regular basis. Although frequent visits are permitted, the court generally requires that parents provide a written agreement regarding the frequency of the visits.
When joint physical custody is granted, both parents may establish visitation rights. Depending on the jurisdiction, joint legal custody grants to one parent the responsibility for making child care decisions and attending to the welfare of the minor children. Once the court decides that the joint custody is in the best interest of the child, the court will issue a child custody order that details the visitation schedule, including the dates and times each parent is allowed to spend with the child. Both parents have the right to make changes to the visitation schedule, but to do so they must notify the court.
When the divorce is final, a St. Louis child custody lawyer will prepare and submit the divorce decree and any required additional papers to the court. This includes the adoption and physical custody arrangements. Along with these documents, the St. Louis divorce attorney prepares the final parenting plan. This is a broad plan of care that details how the couple’s property and financial assets will be divided. The plan also covers all aspects of day-to-day child raising, including schooling, religion, healthcare and other issues. For more details about child custody processing, check out this site at www.stlouisdivorcelawyers.net/child-custody/.
If the couple agrees on an arrangement and signs their child custody forms, they should visit the courthouse and appear before a judge to sign the forms. If there are any conditions or stipulations, they should submit them to the court clerk for approval. Then, the clerk will forward the completed forms to the judge. A St. Louis divorce attorney can assist with filling out the forms and submitting them to the court for approval. If the parents want to continue making modifications to the parenting plan after the divorce, they should consult with the St. Louis divorce lawyer.