Matters of child custody are extremely sensitive and must be handled with great care. Missouri courts and all parties involved should ensure that the resultant custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child or children.

Navigating through a complex child custody case on your own is nearly impossible, and it’s critical that you have support from the start of your case. By working with a seasoned St. Louis child custody attorney, you can protect your child’s well-being and your parental rights under Missouri law.

How Is Child Custody Determined in St. Louis, MO?

Missouri courts use a variety of factors to determine what custody arrangement might work best for the child. Ultimately, all arrangements are designed to guarantee that the child is safe from harm in a nurturing environment that maintains a healthy relationship with both parents.

To achieve this, the courts take a myriad of factors into consideration, including:

  • the child’s age and any possible disabilities
  • the parents’ ages and any possible disabilities
  • the employment and financial status of each parent
  • the living arrangements of each parent
  • the wishes of the child, if they are old enough to voice preference
  • who the child is currently staying with
  • what living arrangements support the child’s educational and social life
  • each parent’s willingness to foster a positive relationship with the other parent
  • any history of one parent restricting access to the child or children
  • any history of domestic violence

Coming to a verdict in a child custody case is no small feat. Careful consideration is a must, and courts understand their enormous responsibility when deciding where and with whom a child will live. However, many courts do not have the full picture. They can only make a determination based on the facts available.

It is your job as a parent to gather important evidence like pay stubs, photos, notes, and other documentation that best illustrates your case. Your attorney can help you gather this information.

Five Types of Custody Arrangements in Missouri

There are five different types of custody arrangements that the state of Missouri recognizes, including:

  • Joint Legal and Physical Custody to Both Parents: Both parents share equal physical custody of the child, with equal say in the child’s medical care, education, etc.
  • Joint Physical Custody to Both Parents, With Sole Legal Custody to One Parent: Both parents share time with the child equally, but one parent can make important decisions about the child’s education, medical care, etc.
  • Joint Legal Custody to Both Parents, With Sole Physical Custody to One Parent: Both parents have an equal say in legal matters; however, one parent has sole custody.
  • Sole Physical and Legal Custody to One Parent: One parent has rights to keep the child and make important decisions regarding the child’s care. The court recognizes that the other parent is not fit to make these decisions or have physical rights to the child; however, they may still award visitation in some form.
  • Custody and/or Visitation to Third Parties: In some situations, the court will find both parents unfit for legal and physical custody and will award custody to a third party, such as a grandparent. In other cases, grandparents may be granted visitation in order to prevent one or both parents from keeping the child from the grandparent.

Each custody situation is unique and must be carefully considered before a final verdict is made. When you work with an experienced child custody lawyer in Missouri, you can ensure that your attorney is advocating for your child’s best interests.

Paternity Testing for the Purposes of Child Custody

In some child custody cases, it is unclear who the father of the child is. Before awarding physical and legal custody in any form to a father, paternity must be legally established.

Paternity may be unclear when the parents aren’t married, or when paternity is contested. Proving paternity is critical in child custody cases if either parent desires for the child to have a continuing relationship with their father.

Not all paternity tests are equal. If you need a paternity test and want to be certain that the results will be accepted by a Missouri court of law, contact a seasoned paternity attorney as soon as possible.

Hire an Experienced Family Law Attorney Today

At Haefner Law Office, we understand how delicate child custody can be. We know that the court’s decision can impact your life and the life of your child. As a result, we are committed to providing each one of our clients with dedicated and zealous legal representation throughout the case proceedings.

We will help you gather important evidence that illustrates your case to the court, and we will passionately advocate for your parental rights under the law. You can be confident that you are being adequately represented with our office by your side, and that we will fight for the best outcome possible.

If you are involved in a child custody case or simply have questions about child custody laws in Missouri, don’t hesitate to reach out for a free phone consultation by calling (314) 200-6101.

(314) 200-6101