Seven Informational Facts About Missouri Family Law and Child Custody

If you are going through a legal separation, a divorce or a child custody dispute, you should learn about the family laws for Missouri to educate yourself.

Missouri Family Law and Child Custody Laws

Missouri family law courts handle the areas of the law that covers all domestic related issues such as marriage, divorce, legal separation, spousal support, child support and child custody. If you are in the position in need of a family court matter, it helps to know the laws for Missouri so you will know what to expect.

1. Missouri Family Law Court System

In the state of Missouri, you file your legal paperwork with the Missouri Circuit Count in the county where you live or in which your spouse or child’s other parent lives.

2. Missouri Child Custody

For the child custody in Missouri, If you are one of two parties that share custody of a child and are going through a legal separation or divorce or sole custody of a child, you will need to file a petition for child custody with the proper court.

When these types of cases arise, the most difficult decision for a judge is to decide whether they award sole custody or joint custody. The main overall factor in the decision is “in the best interest of the child.” Many factors need to be considered to do what is seen as the very best for the child. It could be sole custody of one or the other parent depending on the circumstances.

3. The Parenting Plan

Each parent should have a parenting plan in place and their wishes will be taken into account by the judge. The parenting plan includes items such as things that essentially define your day-to-day life with the child and will be enforced until your child becomes of legal age. Parenting plans often include custody and visitation such as which parent gets the child on which days per week and the times the child is picked up and returned. If you and the other parent have a high conflict relationship, it is best to pick up or drop off the child at a public place or at the home of a mutual friend.

Parenting plans also include the division of expenses for extracurricular activities of the child, who pays their health insurance, who pays daycare, who pays for dental visits and travel and vacation schedules. You can add procedures for how and when the children will visit extended family and friends and decide how far in advance either parent needs to ask for a change in the schedule. You should also decide how the child would communicate with a non-custodial parent such as email, phone calls, texting or video chatting.

4. Factors that the Judge Bases Custody On

The family court judge will look at the parenting plans and the willingness of each parent to allow the child a relationship with the other parent. They also consider the interaction and interrelationship of the child with each parent, siblings and other close relatives or friends that affect the child’s best interest. Other considerations are if the child moves to another home will they have to attend a new school and be in a new community that can cause distress on the child. Any history of abuse as well as the metal and physical health of each parent is taken into account as well as the wishes of the child.

5. Factors in Deciding Missouri Child Support

Missouri family law courts have judges presiding over the child support cases that factor in several things when making a decision. The child’s financial needs and resources are examined, as some children have special needs. The financial and resources of both parents are examined as well. The judge will also look at the child’s standard of living that would still be if the child had lived with both parents. The child’s physical and emotional condition of the child is important factors too. The judge also looks at the specifics of the custody agreement and the work-related childcare expenses of each parent if they both work.

6. Modifications of Child Custody or Child Support

According to Missouri family law, the child custody and child support orders have to be made by a judge in order to stand up in court. If either parent requests a change in these items, they need to file a motion to modify child support or a motion to modify child custody and support. The parent will have to show that circumstances have changed since the original order was enforced and that the new arrangement is in the best interest of the child.

7. Mediation in Child Custody Disputes

Both parents can decide to use a mediator to avoid the stress, time and expense of a long trial. They can negotiate all of the terms of a divorce, child custody and child support with a third party to facilitate communicates to come to a mutual agreement. Then the agreements made in mediation are brought before a judge to allow the judge to enforce the agreement through a court order.

The review of the Missouri laws in family court will advise you of actions you can take and give you an insight in what to expect in the event of a divorce, legal separation or child custody and a child support case. The most important thing to remember in these stressful times is that the child is more affected by changes than adults are. Children need to be reassured that everything will be okay and that they will still see the non-custodial parent on a schedule.

Disclaimer: I am not an attorney and this should not be considered legal advice. It does state the Missouri laws of family court, which are correct and can be used for informational purposes. You should seek appropriate counsel for your own situation.