Child Custody & Visitation Overview

Divorce & the Parenting Plan

Divorce & Legal Custody of Your Children

Divorce & Physical Custody of your Children

St. Louis Child Custody & Visitation Attorneys

No issue carries more emotional impact than resolving how parents will share the physical time with their children and decisions regarding their health, education and welfare.

In Missouri, we decide two different types of custody – legal custody, which involves who shall make decisions regarding the health, education and welfare of the child, and physical custody, which involves when and under what conditions the child resides with each parent.

Legal and physical custody awards may be either joint or sole awards. Missouri has a preference for joint custody awards. Joint legal custody means both parents jointly make decisions regarding the health, education and welfare of the child – they share information, they consult prior to decisions and collectively agree on a course of action. Sole legal custody means one parent makes the decisions regarding the health, education and welfare of the child, though the sole legal custodian still may have to consult with the other parent in advance of decisions and keep that parent informed about schooling, medical care and activities.

In determining whether to award sole or joint legal custody, the court is guided first by the best interests of the child, but also must consider a list of factors, including:

  • The wishes of the parents
  • The need to assure a continuing and meaningful relationship with both parents and which parent would be more likely to facilitate that relationship
  • The interaction of the child with parents, siblings and other family members
  • Which parent would more likely allow frequent, continuing and meaningful contact with the other parent
  • The child’s adjustment to home, school and community
  • The mental and physical health of both parents, including any issues of domestic violence
  • The intention of either parent to relocate
  • The wishes of the child, if the child is sufficiently mature to express such wishes

Joint physical custody awards both parents generally equal time with the minor child. However, just because a court gives the parties joint physical custody does not mean the time must be exactly 50-50. The court may decide it is in the best interests of the child to minimize transitions between households during the school year, for example. In any joint physical custody award, the court still must designate one parent the residential custodian for mailing and educational purposes – an important issue if the child will attend public school. Sole physical custody awards one parent principal time with the minor child, but still must insure frequent and meaningful continuing contact with the other parent. The parent without sole physical custody has what we call visitation rights rather than physical custody rights. In determining whether physical custody should be sole or joint, the court must use the same factors set out above for legal custody.

In all cases, the court must enter a detailed Parenting Plan that will set out the specific duties and conditions of each parent with regard to legal and physical custody, and will set out a specific schedule of temporary physical custody.

Important Missouri Child Custody Information

Getting Help

As you can see from the issues to resolve, the process is not just a short set of simple, self-executing rules, but involves many complex and often difficult questions of proof. Only a skilled and experienced attorney can properly advise you as to your rights with regard to custody, property and support, and protect those rights in a legal proceeding.

At The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C, we have over fifty years of combined experience handling family law matters. We help individuals understand their rights with regard to all issues, including child custody and visitation. We have handled hundreds of trials before family court judges; if you choose The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C., you will have the benefit of a St. Louis divorce attorney unafraid to go to court, advocate on your behalf and fully present your case.

Time to Act

Time is of the essence. As soon as you select The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C. to represent you, we will immediately put our considerable experience and resources to work on your case. The sooner we can review the necessary information, the sooner we can formulate a strategy for your unique circumstances, helping to insure the best possible outcome.

Your future is at stake. Make the right call and contact us today at (314) 993-6300. There is no charge for the initial consultation – and the only obligation you have is the one you have to yourself to gain the best representation possible.

Contact The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C.

For a free initial consultation with an experienced St. Louis family law attorney, contact us or call our office at 314-993-6300. We will set up a telephone consultation, if necessary, and will meet with you on Saturday upon request. Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express are welcome.

Child Custody