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Melissa A. Featherston

Traditional child custody arrangements are changing

Child custody can be incredibly complex and is one of the hardest aspects of a divorce. Because many couples are not able to work together to come to a suitable custody arrangement, Missouri family courts often have the final say. In many cases, child custody is still determined along traditional lines, but that trend could be changing across the country. 

Traditionally, courts usually grant primary custody to one parent, typically the mother. The other parent is only granted limited visitation as determined by the court. Recently, shared parenting has become more predominant for divorcing couples. It is well known that it is healthy for children to maintain a relationship with both parents after a divorce, which traditional custody arrangements do not necessarily allow. 

To meet the needs of the children and to resolve family-specific issues, many parents, including those in Missouri, are working together to draft custody plans. Parenting plans typically include details regarding visitation, decision-making authority and even conflict resolution methods. Parenting plans should be uniquely suited to the needs of the children affected by the divorce. 

Parents may not need the help of a mediator, but it is often beneficial to have a professional assist with the drafting of a parenting plan as part of the divorce process. An experienced legal ally can protect the interests of the client through negotiations and discussions. This is extremely important during a divorce and especially important when determining issues such as child custody. When parents can set aside differences and work together, it can benefit a family for many years to come. 

Source: The Washington Post, "There's a great way to figure out child custody. Most divorce courts don't use it.", J. Herbie DiFonzo, Nov. 14, 2014

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