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Melissa A. Featherston

How can you change a child custody agreement in Missouri?

Once a divorce is final, a child custody agreement determines how and when a child visits with a parent. These agreements are legally binding, and when one parent deviates from the agreement, it can result in tension and further legal complications. Occasionally, circumstances may make it necessary for one parent to seek a modification to a child custody agreement, but it is imperative for an individual to have legal assistance. 

When a modification is needed, Missouri parents may be able to work together on the terms of a new agreement. Whether an agreement will be temporary or permanent, it can be useful to work with a legal professional to negotiate terms. For a major change in a child custody agreement, such as changing which parent gets primary custody, a court order is required. When a modification is possible by agreement, the final agreement for modification must be filed with a court.

If a change in a custody arrangement is contested, a motion to modify must be filed with a Missouri court. An attorney can advise on how to seek the desired terms, which can include details such as visitation days and the wishes of the child. When parents are not in agreement on these terms, the parent who is seeking changes must present evidence to the court in order to validate the need for a modification.

Legally obtaining a modification to a child custody agreement can be difficult, but it is possible to achieve desired goals with proper legal help. When circumstances change, it is important to seek a third-party opinion in order to understand the best way to proceed. Missouri parents have the right to assistance with every step of the modification process, from filing a motion to the final judgement.

Source: selfrepresent.mo.gov, "Motion to Modify Child Custody (and Support)", Jan. 7, 2015

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