Child Custody & Visitation Overview
No issue carries more emotional impact than resolving how you will share the physical time with your children and the decisions regarding their health, education and welfare.
In Missouri, we decide two different types of custody – Legal and Physical. And each of those may be awarded Solely or Jointly. This may sound a little confusing so let me try to clarify things for you.
The phrase “Legal Custody” refers to which parent is entitled to make decisions regarding the health, education and welfare of your child. If you want to be involved in those important decisions, then you should seek Legal Custody.
Physical Custody refers to where and when the child will live with each parent.
And because there are two parents in the picture, the court must decide how to divide those responsibilities and that’s where the concepts of Joint and Sole come in to play. Joint Custody, whether for Legal or Physical Custody means you share responsibility and Sole Custody, again, whether it’s for Legal or Physical Custody means that EITHER you or the other parent will be primarily responsible. It’s also important to understand that even if one parent is given Sole Custody, the other parent may still be involved to some extent.
Remember, that the court is guided first by the best interests of the child but will take into account many other factors in its decision. The court must enter a detailed Parenting Plan and this will set out the specific duties and conditions for both parents.
Experienced legal counsel can help you understand the many options before you when it comes to this important area of your divorce.