Methods to Determine Custody:With all custody cases, a judge must determine whether the custody arrangement is in the best interests of the children. This is true whether the parents mutually agree on the custody arrangement or whether the parents present their case to the judge to decide the custody arrangement. If the parents mutually agree upon a custody arrangement, the court must review and approve the parties’ written custody agreement as being in the children’s best interests. The most common ways to resolve custody cases are through litigation, mediation or by settlement between the parents.
Types of Custody:“Custody” means joint legal custody, sole legal custody, joint physical custody or sole physical custody, or any combination thereof. Joint legal custody means that the parents share the decision-making rights, responsibilities, and authority relating to the health, education and welfare of the child, and requires that the parents confer with one another in the exercise of decision-making rights, responsibilities, and authority.
Sole legal custody means that one parent has the decision-making rights, responsibilities, and authority relating to the health, education and welfare of the child. The parent that has sole legal custody must keep the other parent apprised of decisions/issues related to the health, education and welfare of the child.
Joint physical custody involves an arrangement whereby each of the parents are awarded significant, but not necessarily equal, periods of time during which a child resides with or is under the care and supervision of each of the parents. Joint physical custody must be shared by the parents in such a way as to assure the child of frequent, continuing and meaningful contact with both parents. A number of custody arrangements are possible with a joint physical custody arrangement. The arrangements can include an equal split of time with the children to a situation whereby one parent has custody every other weekend with extended time in the summer.
Sole physical custody of a child can be awarded to one parent. This generally occurs when one of the parents is deemed unfit to have custody of the child for one or more reasons.
Factors to Determine Who is Awarded Custody:In Missouri, a judge must determine custody in accordance with the best interests of the child. When the parties have not reached an agreement on all issues related to custody, the court must consider all relevant factors, including the following:
- The wishes of the child’s parents as to custody and the proposed parenting plan submitted by both parties.
- The needs of the child for a frequent, continuing and meaningful relationship with both parents and the ability and willingness of parents to actively perform their functions as mother and father for the needs of the child.
- The interaction and interrelationship of the child with parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests.
- Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent, continuing and meaningful contact with the other parent.
- The child’s adjustment to the child’s home, school, and community.
- The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, including any history of abuse of any individuals involved.
- The intention of either parent to relocate the principal residence of the child.
- The wishes of a child as to the child’s custodian.
If you find yourself in need of a divorce lawyer at the Lake of the Ozarks, we can help you! From explaining the divorce process to knowing your rights for child custody, there are a number of options you should know about. Our Lake of the Ozarks law office is here for all of your child custody needs. From filing for divorce to fighting for your custody rights, Gibbons Law Firm can assist. Give us a call today to schedule your FREE consultation to discuss your child custody case.
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