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Melissa A. Featherston

Missouri child custody: Should you fight for a teenager?

Missouri parents of teenagers know the frustrations that can go with raising one. For many, the question of child custody may now be at the back of their mind especially since teenagers can often decide who they want to live with now that they are older. Many courts will take a teenager's desires into account when trying to determine custody. However, parents realize their teenager can be easily swayed by monetary gifts and lax discipline on the other parent's part.

While it may seem unfair and sometimes like a betrayal from the child, teenagers are often very emotional and go where they feel they are treated the best. That can often be colored by the parent who tends to buy the child more or who may not be viewed as a harsh disciplinarian. However, matters of child custody tend to also involve matters of child support. And this

Many states recognize the child's right to choose, especially older children and teenagers. If a teenager, or an older child who is deemed to show maturity, makes it clear that there is a parent they don't want to spend time with, many judges have shown a willingness to not force them into custody situations or visitations with those parents.

When younger children are involved, there's less flexibility. Some states may allow children as young as 10 to express their preference of custodial parent, but the courts may be restricted from making that preference a determining factor. As in all child custody matters, it is the child's best interest that is supposed to be the overriding concern of the courts.

Any Missouri parent who has tried to deal with a teenager knows that it can be a challenge. Teens tend to be self-serving and often have enough experience in the ways of interpersonal relations that they know how to push buttons. That can make for a particularly difficult situation if the child doesn't want to be with a particular parent. Perhaps the question to ask is whether child support is driving the desire for custody, and whether locking horns with a determined teenager is worth it.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Who Gets The Kids?," Jacqueline Harounian, Nov. 23, 2012

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