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How courts decide child custody in Missouri

29493362_S (1).jpgAside from the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, which is used to help prevent interstate child abduction, child custody laws are set at the state level. Custody decisions made by a court in Missouri are based on what is in the best interests of the child.

In determining what the child's best interests are, the court will take a number of factors into account. These include each parent's plan for custody, whether either parent is considering a move and the child's preferences. The court considers it important that the child maintain a relationship with both parents, so it also looks at how willing each parent is to make sure the child has that relationship. Furthermore, it will consider the mental and physical health of all parties and whether there has been any neglect or abuse.

There are five possible arrangements for legal and physical custody. Legal custody is about who makes decisions about religion, education and other major issues in the child's life while physical custody is about where the child lives. Both types of custody can be shared; alternatively, one type of custody could be shared while the other is not, or one parent might have sole custody. The other possibility involves third-party custody or visitation. This includes grandparents' rights to visitation.

The emotions involved in dealing with issues around child custody and visitation can make it difficult for parents to negotiate an agreement. However, if they are able to do this instead of going to litigation, it may be less expensive, less stressful and less time-consuming. Whether a judge or parents make the final decision, different arrangements are possible. For example, a noncustodial parent who has visitation rights may still be able to have the child for nearly half of the time if the parents agree or the court mandates it.

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  • Saint Louis County: 120 S. Central Ave., Suite 450, Clayton, MO 63105: Clayton Office
  • West County: 16024 Manchester Rd., Suite 103, Ellisville, MO 63011: Ellisville Office
  • Jackson County: 256 NE Tudor Rd., Lee's Summit, Missouri 64086: Lee's Summit Office
  • Jefferson County: 16 Municipal Drive, Suite C, Arnold, MO 63010: Arnold Office
  • St. Charles County: 2268 Bluestone Drive, St. Charles, MO 63303: St. Charles Office
  • Franklin County: 5 S. Oak St. Union, MO 63084: Union Office
  • Lincoln County: 20 Centerline Drive, Troy, Missouri 63379: Troy Office
  • Boone County: 1506 Chapel Hill Rd., Suite H, Columbia, MO 65203: Columbia Office
  • Greene County: 901 E. St. Louis, Suite 404, Springfield, Missouri 65806: Springfield, MO Office
  • St. Clair County: 115 Lincoln Place Ct., Ste. 101, Belleville, IL 62221: Belleville Office
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  • Sangamon County: 400 S. 9th St., Suite 100, Springfield, IL 62701: Springfield Office
  • McLean County: 1012 Ekstam Drive, Suite 4, Bloomington, IL 61704: Bloomington Office
  • Johnson County: 7300 West 110th Street, Suite 560, Overland Park, KS 62210: Overland Park Office
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  • Shawnee County: 800 SW Jackson Street, Suite 812, Topeka, Kansas 66612: Topeka Office
  • Tulsa County: 6660 S. Sheridan Road, Suite 240, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74133 Tulsa Office
  • Monroe County: 116 W. Mill St., Waterloo, IL 62298 (by appt. only): Waterloo Office
  • St. Louis City: 100 S. 4th St., #549, St. Louis, MO 63102 (by appt. only): St. Louis Office
  • Jackson County: 2300 Main St., #948, Kansas City, MO 64108 (by appt. only): Kansas City Office

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