Child Custody Lawyer Clayton MO for Your Family Law Issues

As the top child custody lawyer in Clayton, MO, The Carson Law Firm has the experience you need to protect your family’s best interests.

When Do You Need Child Custody Lawyers in Clayton, MO?


If you are battling with your children’s other parent or guardian, you require the assistance of the best St. Louis child custody attorney in Clayton, MO.

Although the state of Missouri considers “joint custody” to be the optimal option for the child, many parents find it challenging to agree on custody and child support, especially while in the midst of an ongoing divorce and domestic violence. The court intercedes when the child’s biological guardians can’t develop a parenting plan.

The judge determines each parent’s role in the care and decision-making of the child. For mail and school purposes, the judge will choose one as the “residential parent,” and the other will likely be awarded visitation. The father and mother must disclose circumstances that might impact the child’s best interests, and in certain instances, the judge may order “sole custody.” 

In child custody cases where there is alleged abuse or neglect, your parenting time may be limited, or the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the child’s interests. Although it is wise to consult family law attorneys if you are going to court, you must do so if concerns about the child custody dispute, neglect, or child exploitation exist.

Consult with Louis’ child custody lawyers, who can help to determine the best possible option.

Types of Child Custody in Missouri

There are several types of child custody in Missouri that may be awarded to clients—whether they seek divorce or were never married but have children together. They consist of the following:

  • Joint Custody
  • Sole Custody
  • Legal Custody
  • Physical Custody

Joint Custody

As implied by its name, it means that both parents are responsible for decision-making concerning the child. It is a situation where each parent has an equal say in important matters such as education, healthcare, and religion. This is usually considered the best option for a child custody case.

Joint custody can be further divided into two types:

  • Joint legal custody

  • Joint physical custody

Joint Legal Custody

When joint legal custody is awarded, both parents have an equal right to decide the child’s welfare. This includes matters related to education, healthcare, and religion.

Joint Physical Custody

In joint physical custody cases, the child spends equal time with each parent. This arrangement can be challenging for some parents but can also create a more stable environment for the child.

Sole Custody

In cases where joint custody is not possible or in the child’s best interest, one parent may have sole custody. This means that one parent has full physical and legal custody of the child, while the other will likely have visitation rights. Sole custody is usually awarded in cases where one parent has a history of abuse or neglect or if they are deemed unfit to care for the child.

Legal Custody

Legal custody refers to which the guardian has the right to decide how the child is raised. Essential items that fall under this category typically include health and education. Typically, joint legal custody is awarded to both the mother and the father, who will have a say in the child’s upbringing.

Physical Custody

Physical custody determines which caregiver the child will live with. Sometimes, one parent is awarded. Other times, both the mother and the father are awarded. If the situation dictates that one parent will have custody and is known as the custodial parent, the other is referred to as the non-custodial parent.

St. Louis clients who retain the assistance of a family law firm in the area are more likely to have their side adequately represented when they go to court.

Important Information About Saint Louis Child Custody Laws and Divorce

State laws determine how divorcing parents in St. Louis County, MO, will share custody of their children. Typically, if you and your partner cannot develop an agreed-upon plan independently, a judge may decide how custody will be granted. 

Some critical factors a judge will consider when deciding child custody are:

  • The child’s best interest

  • The child’s wishes

  • The parent’s wishes

  • The need for children to have a relationship with each parent (and the parent’s willingness)

  • Mental and physical health for all involved

  • Home, school, and community environment

  • The possibility of homeschooling

  • The intentions of parents to relocate

A knowledgeable St. Louis child custody lawyer can help you know what to expect when you face a child custody evaluation to determine the child’s best interests. 

Filing for Child Custody in Clayton, Missouri

To request child custody in Clayton, MO, and get it advancing through the court system, you need to file several forms, including the following:

You can find printable versions, as well as the other necessary forms, here. Seek consultation with our Louis child custody attorneys to properly assess a reasonable amount for child support to care for your children.

A St. Louis Family Law Attorney Can Represent You in the Child Custody Courts Each county in Missouri has its own circuit court to hear child care cases. St. Louis city and St. Louis County have two different circuit courts. You can visit their websites here:

When you are required to go to the courtroom, whether as a petitioner or a respondent, you should have one or more family law attorneys in your corner to offer information and representation, the attorneys will ensure that your rights are protected and your child’s best interests are presented when the judge reviews your case.

A St. Louis Family Law Attorney Can Represent You in the Child Custody Courts

Each county in Missouri has its own circuit court to hear childcare cases. St. Louis City and St. Louis County have two different circuit courts. You can visit their websites here:

When you are required to go to the courtroom as a petitioner or a respondent, you should have one or more Missouri child custody attorneys in your corner to offer information and representation. The attorneys will ensure that your rights are protected, and your child’s best interests are presented when the judge reviews your case.

Petition for Child Custody in Clayton, MO

Under Missouri law, a Petition for Child Custody in Clayton, MO (CAFC201) is used in circumstances where paternity has been established, but no custody order exists. If both mother and father sign an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity when their child is born, paternity is assumed. 

When that doesn’t happen, but a man believes himself to be the child’s father, he can complete a Declaration of Paternity and file it with the Missouri Bureau of Vital Records. It becomes official when the courtroom finds the man is a child’s legal guardian. Child support may be ordered at this time.

In most cases, children have the right to enjoy frequent, consistent, quality contact with both of their parents. Child support and child custody are separate issues and may or may not be decided at the same hearing. An order for custody includes a Parenting Plan to specify:

  • Parental rights and responsibilities 

  • Parenting times and locations

A skilled advocate can help clients navigate custody and support issues during or after a divorce or in cases where the parents were never married. They will also advise on the options available to couples negotiating those issues after completing one or more adoptions.

How Do I Petition for Child Custody?

A family attorney will advise you that if you are petitioning the judge for child care, the burden of proof is on you. There are several steps that you must take.

  1. Gather the necessary documents, including a copy of the child’s birth certificate
  2. Complete the petition for child custody forms
  3. File the required paperwork and filing fees
  4. The other is hand-delivered the petition or summons and has 30 days to file a response.
  5. Hearing is scheduled
  6. Possible parent orientation program
  7. Possible mediation to discuss a viable parenting plan
  8. Possible pre-trial hearing so the judge can review issues to be resolved before the trial
  9. Final hearing or trial

If the other party fails to respond to the summons, the case will be decided without them.

If they contest the case, you will need to provide evidence to support your petition. This might consist of documents, exhibits, and witness testimonies. After the final hearing, the judge’s decision will be written up and signed as a “judgment.”

Since this process is complex, you should contact a child custody counsel from our family law firm in Clayton, MO, for a consultation.

Benefits of Child Custody Counseling in Clayton, MO

There are several benefits of child custody counseling in Clayton, MO. Counseling, also called mediation, is often a method family lawyers recommend to their clients to speed up the process and help them avoid a lengthy courtroom process.

Additionally, our attorneys would be able to help you understand your options in the following practice areas:

Family law cases are inherently delicate and complicated, and each client has their own version of what they think is in the best interest of their child. Usually, both people believe their rights to raise their child supersedes the rights of the other.

A skilled family counsel will sensitively provide resources and information to help them make the best decisions for their child and their family.


Who is the Best Child Custody Lawyer in Missouri?

The Carson Law Firm is among Missouri’s top family law firms and has an excellent reputation for practical and ethical service. We specialize in divorce, child support, military family law, and custody cases involving international parental kidnapping. To learn more about us, visit our website.

How Much Does a Father’s Rights Lawyer Cost?

The cost of a father’s rights lawyer varies. Several factors affect the price, such as your case’s size, type, and complexity. However, once you meet with an advocate for an initial consultation to discuss your specifics, they’ll be able to give you a better idea of what it will cost you.

What Type of Lawyer Handles Child Custody?

Two types of lawyers handle child custody: Family Court and Probate Court. Family Court Attorney handles legal issues involving adoption, child abuse and neglect petitions, family dependency cases involving juveniles, and juvenile delinquency proceedings. Probate Court Attorney deals with guardianship for minors involved in financial arrangements and handling estates when a parent dies.

Need an Experienced Family Law Attorney in Clayton, Missouri? 

If you face a potentially challenging battle in the Missouri Court system, a reputable team of child custody lawyers in Saint Charles or Clayton, Missouri, can provide you with child custody matter formal legal advice.

The Carson Law Firm has logged extensive experience helping families in St. Louis County navigate through family law matters. We are sensitive to your needs during this challenging time and are committed to helping you through it.

Childcare battles can be draining on both your and your child’s lives. Ensuring this process moves along as smoothly as possible in court is paramount.

The Carson Law Firm is well-versed in the intricacies of St. Louis child custody matters and can help you navigate this process. Please complete our online contact form for a free consultation to learn more about your situation and ensure you are represented in the best way possible.

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