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Melissa A. Featherston

Understanding child custody in Missouri

When it comes to child custody, there are many factors that will be considered by Missouri family courts. The welfare and best interests of the child will be the primary concern in any child custody arrangement. It may be useful for parents to understand state laws pertaining to this issue, whether the parents are working together on a custody plan or facing a litigious legal battle. 

In order to determine what is in the best interests of the child, family courts will consider both the custody plan proposed by the parents, if they have one, and the emotional needs of the child. It is important for children to maintain a healthy relationship with both parents after a divorce, if it is possible. Occasionally, a parent may wish to move after a divorce, and any relocation proposals will be factored into a court-approved plan. 

Depending on the circumstances of the particular situation, joint physical and legal custody may be granted to both parents. If there is a history of abuse, neglect or other factors, physical and legal custody may be granted to just one parent. A parent may petition for sole legal custody or both physical and legal custody.  Additionally, Missouri laws allow the courts to consider visitation for third parties, such as grandparents. 

Determining child custody is one of the most challenging and potentially complex aspects of a divorce. When a parent would like to pursue a specific arrangement or learn more about custody laws, it can be useful to seek a legal opinion regarding the desired outcome. With guidance and a clear understanding of the family court system, it is possible for a parent to achieve a beneficial outcome for their children after a divorce. 

Source: Findlaw, "Missouri Child Custody Laws", Accessed on Jan. 31, 2015

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