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Melissa A. Featherston

Understanding the types of child custody arrangements

Missouri parents naturally wish to protect the emotional and physical needs of their children during and after a divorce. One of the main ways of doing so is by determining a child custody arrangement that is suited to the needs of the children and the dynamics of the individual family. When custody arrangements cannot be agreed upon by the parents, the court will determine an arrangement that is considered to be in the best interests of the children.

The three main categories of child custody include sole custody, joint custody and joint physical custody. Custody is considered both a parental right and duty and encompasses the right to make decisions about education, medical care and religious training for the children. Sole custody is where one parent is granted primary care of the child and the authority to make these important decisions without input from the other parent.

In joint child custody arrangements, parents share the responsibility of making major decisions for the child and may also share parenting time. When parents have joint legal custody, it may be required that parents seek mediation for major issues that they cannot agree upon. Joint physical custody refers only to the time that a child is physically with a parent, and that amount of time is determined on a individual basis. 

Child custody is often one of the most contentious issues in a divorce, and it is not uncommon for parents to be unable to agree upon an arrangement that is suitable. It is important for any custody order to be sustainable well into the future in order for a child to have stability during a difficult time of transition. By consulting with a lawyer, a Missouri parent can better understand custody options available.

Source: americanbar.org, "Child Custody and Support", Accessed on Jan. 5, 2016

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