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Melissa A. Featherston

Child Custody: Most emotionally difficult element of any divorce

Divorce can be, as many know first-hand, emotionally and financially taxing for both parties involved. When child custody issues and/or concerns are a part of the process, it can become exponentially more difficult for both the adults involved and the children. There are many options Missouri parents contemplating separation should consider with regard to child custody and disputes over child custody agreements.

The first thing parents should consider is the affect a divorce may have on the children, whether the process is amicable or not. Studies attempting to show whether parents involved in an unhappy marriage should stay together in the interests of the children involved have returned mixed results. Experts disagree as to whether parents should stay together, even if their unhappiness is difficult to mask in the home. Missouri parents should give this first decision careful consideration. It is important to take the time necessary and seek advice from those they trust to ensure they make the most-informed decision possible.

Assuming the decision is made to separate, it becomes extremely important for both sides to work to find agreement as to child custody and/or a parenting plan. There are several options available to Missouri parents when developing this plan and resolving any disputes that may arise. These options include an agreement between the spouses, filing a custody action as part of the divorce, and alternative dispute resolution or mediation. Specific circumstances will help determine which of these is best.

Understandably, divorce can be difficult. It is important to consider carefully all of the decisions involved throughout the process and always keep in mind the best interests of the children involved. It may be beneficial for Missouri citizens considering, or already involved in, divorce to seek professional legal advice for assistance in weighing the options related to parenting plans and child custody agreements or litigation.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Custody Thoughts," Mark A. Barondess, Sept. 23, 2012

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