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St. Louis MO Custody and Visitation Law Blog

Understanding types of child custody in Missouri

Child custody is actually more complex than simply determining where a child will live after a divorce. Missouri parents can be awarded different types of custody, and it is important to understand the differences when navigating divorce negotiations. A parent can be awarded sole physical or legal custody, joint legal custody, joint physical custody, or a third party could be granted child custody

If a parent is awarded sole physical custody, this implies that the child will live solely with that parent. Sole legal custody implies that only one parent has the legal authority to made decisions for the child pertaining to medical needs, education and important issues. Parents have the right to petition for sole physical and/or legal custody of their children. 

Weighing parental rights against the emotional needs of children

Missouri parents know that divorce often has negative emotional impacts on children. In the midst of fighting for deserved parental rights, it is easy lose view of the emotional needs of the children. Fortunately, when parents commit to working together on a custody agreement, it is possible to protect the interests of the children and avoid litigation. 

Children are resilient, even after the difficulty that comes from watching parents divorce. One of the best ways to protect their emotions and ease the transition into life after divorce is by avoiding negative talk about the other parent. Kids benefit when they are able to maintain strong relationships with both parents, which can be arranged when two parents work together on a custody and visitation agreement. 

How life events may impact visitation issues after divorce

There are many factors that may contribute to a divorce, but significant or traumatic life events may increase the chance that a marriage will end. Studies have shown that when a couple undergoes a certain amount of upheaval, stress or change, it can significantly alter the dynamic of a relationship, eventually leading to a divorce. How these issues affect a Missouri couple will have an impact on visitation issues, even after a divorce is final. 

A major medical event can be a significant stress source in a marriage. In addition to significant medical debt, recovery from a serious illness can last for months or years. Similarly, birth is a major life event that can also be quite costly, both financially and emotionally. The pressure that these situations can place on a marriage can be detrimental. 

Missouri parents can strive to address visitation issues amicably

Common sense suggests that most Missouri parents who are engaged in the process of divorce want to proceed as amicably as possible, especially where their children are concerned.  Some data suggests that visitation issues, division of property and other pertinent decisions that either directly or indirectly involve children will be resolved in a more positive manner if both parents agree to keep the children's best interests in mind during negotiations. A recent article offered parents practical tips and advice.

The article stated that children sometimes experience their parents' divorce as a major upheaval and traumatic experience in their own lives. An extension educator from a university family development center stressed that adults need to put forth effort toward quality and consistency in parenting in order to create a positive experience for children and avoid negative long-term effects after divorce. The spokeswoman said that parents who remain in a perpetual state of discord and involve their children in their conflicts often cause potential problems for the mental health, future relationships and educational performance of their sons and daughters.

Man sentenced to probation, owes $71,000 in child support

The vast majority of parents in Missouri simply want what is best for their children. In many cases, parents are ordered to make child support payments to help ensure that a child's needs are met. Unfortunately, some people fail to make their payments for a variety of different reasons. One out-of-state man has recently been arrested on claims that he owes over $70,000 in child support.

The 43-year-old man was first ordered to make child support payments in 2004. At that time, he was told to pay $165 each week until 2017 when the child will turn 18. He allegedly left the state after that. He was initially arrested in 2010 for failing to pay child support and spent three months in jail at that time.

Can a child custody agreement provide long-term stability?

When navigating the divorce process, all members of the family will be impacted. Children often feel the emotional upheaval of what has happened more than any other member of the family, but parents can make concerted efforts to provide stability and a nurturing environment, even during the legal process. A child custody agreement can and should include the needs of the children and protect their long-term well-being. 

Children are flexible and resilient, but parents should note how a divorce will impact them in the years following a divorce. A custody arrangement should include details determining education, religious preferences, medical treatment protocols and visitation schedules. Issues should be resolved during negotiation, mediation or litigation in an attempt to forestall conflict and legal battles in the future. Missouri parents can seek custody and visitation arrangements that provide stability and uproot the children as little as possible.

Avoiding child custody litigation may have long-term benefits

Missouri parents who are divorcing are often concerned with potential child custody litigation and the effects it could have on the long-term emotional health of their children. After a lengthy study into this issue that looked at families 12 years after the parents' divorces, parents can now have a better understanding of how their decisions during divorce can affect their kids for years to come. In this particular study, families were asked to either mediate to resolve custody disputes or pursue arrangements in court through child custody litigation. 

Parents who were assigned mediation instead of litigation found that the non-custodial parents were more likely to have had direct influences on many aspects of their children's' lives. Additionally, it was learned that over the years, more of these parents were able to effectively co-parent, allowing children to have more contact with the non-residential parents. It is known that it is extremely beneficial for children to be able to maintain strong relationships with both parents after divorce. 

Successfully navigating visitation issues during divorce

Visitation issues are some of the most important factors that will be decided during a divorce because they will ultimately determine a permanent parenting schedule. Visitation issues are also an important issue for unmarried parents or those dealing with a paternity dispute. For the interest of resolving these matters in a timely fashion and in a way that is beneficial for the parents and children, it is best to seek assistance from an attorney who is experienced in complex family law issues. 

Visitation issues involve more than simply determining how parenting time will be divided. Drop-off procedures, holidays, frequency of visits and vacations should be factored into parenting plans. Missouri parents have the right to seek a preferred visitation situation. Parenting plans are based on the needs of the children and should allow both parents to have an active role in the children's lives. 

How support arrangements impact post-divorce finances

Support arrangements are some of the most hotly contested issues for divorcing couples. During a divorce, spouses may find that they are unable to come to an agreement over spousal support arrangements, division of marital assets and even child support. Disagreements over money and an unwillingness to compromise may lead to a lengthy legal battle that can be financially and emotionally exhausting. 

It is normal for Missouri couples to have financial concerns during divorces. Couples worried about the monetary impacts of divorce should note that contentious divorces typically take longer and cost more. Even couples who are not amicable can still work together, with the assistance of their respective legal teams, to come to reasonable resolutions on certain divorce issues. This is a legitimate way to ensure that divorces do not become unnecessarily expensive. 

How is child support determined in Missouri?

Determining child support is one of the most important aspects of the divorce process, but it can also be one of the most emotionally challenging. Parents can benefit from a closer understanding of child support laws in Missouri in order to better protect their rights. There is a specific formula that is used to determine child support, as well as guidelines for enforcing support orders after the divorce. 

A child support order will dictate the amount of money that is paid each month, as well as the frequency of payments. Certain guidelines are used to establish the amount of required support. Factors that are considered include the income of each parent, additional financial support, the number of children and any special needs. The support payment should also include assistance for health care and child care.