Missouri Custody Law


With the complicated, emotional nature of cases related to Missouri custody law, most people require the assistance of skilled local lawyers to understand the process.

The Basics of Custody Law in Missouri


Custody law in MO is governed by the Child Custody Act of 1975. The law establishes the parental rights and responsibilities of both parents.

The court may decide that one or both parents have custody of the child, in whole or in part, or that neither parent shall have custody of the child. If a court orders joint custody, it shall state the terms and conditions for joint custody and provide a frequent and continuing meaningful relationship between both parents and the child.

Generally, Missouri courts prefer to give parents joint legal custody believing that ongoing meaningful contact with both is in the interests of the child. On rare occasions, they will grant one parent sole custody.

If you are facing a challenging situation, a skilled Missouri child custody lawyer can fight for your parental rights.

The New Custody Law in Missouri

Custody law in Missouri has undergone changes in recent years, and a new custody law took effect on August 28, 2019. Passed by the Missouri legislature and signed by Governor Mike Parson, it changed how custody cases are handled in Missouri.

Recent Changes in Custody Law Missouri

Family law, like most legal areas, is subject to regular updates. Many of which require a family law or divorce attorney to explain how they may affect your custody arrangements or child support order. Recent changes in Missouri child custody laws relate to the following:

1) The parental rights of fathers and mothers have been strengthened.

2) Custody decisions are now based on the best interest of the child, not just the mother or father.

3) There is a presumption that joint legal custody is in the interest of a child unless there is evidence to show otherwise.

4) A parent who has been denied custody may be granted visitation rights.

5) If a parent has been denied visitation rights, they may seek a modification of those rights after one year from denial.

If you are dissatisfied with your parenting plan or visitation schedule, you can modify a custody order when you have a substantial change in circumstances. For instance, if your child’s school schedule changes or if you make another significant change to your work schedule, these are examples of substantial changes in circumstances.

Common Missouri Custody Factors

The court will consider factors that it decides are relevant to the child’s best interest when determining custody. That could include:

  • The wishes of the child’s parents, as well as those of any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest

  • The child’s adjustment at home, at school, and in the community

  • The mental and physical health of everyone involved

  • Any history of abuse against the child or either parent

  • Which parent is more likely to allow the most contact with the noncustodial parent and grandparents, if applicable

  • The parents’ willingness and ability to foster a close continuing relationship between family members

Regardless of which parent the child resides with, it is essential to promote a frequent, continuing, and meaningful relationship with both. Child custody arrangements in Clayton can be emotionally challenging, but the process can be more straightforward with a solid attorney-client relationship with the Carson Law Firm attorney.

Understanding Missouri Custody Laws

Under Missouri law, there are two types of custody: physical and legal. Physical custody is the right to have a child live with you for a certain period. Legal custody is the right to decide your child’s welfare, such as education and religion.

Missouri courts may award joint legal custody if it is in the child’s best interest. In deciding whether joint legal custody would be in a child’s best interest, Missouri courts will consider factors such as:

  • The wishes of the parents

  • The age and sex of each parent

  • The physical and mental condition of each parent

  • Whether one parent has been convicted or pleaded no contest to one or more felony offenses against any person

  • Whether one parent has been convicted or pleaded no contest

A reputable family law or divorce attorney can help negotiate terms between married and unmarried parents during a child custody dispute.

How to File for Custody in Missouri

Custody cases are nuanced, and there are a variety of things you need to prepare before you can file for custody.

The following are some things you need to know when filing for custody in Missouri.

You need to understand the different types of custody that exist and what they mean before you can file for custody. There are two types of legal and physical custody, which are joint legal and physical and sole legal or physical.

Joint legal means both parents have an equal say in the child’s life, while joint physical means both parents have equal rights to see the child at all times. Sole physical means that one parent has more control over where the child lives, while sole legal means that one parent has more control over who can make decisions about the child’s health, education, and welfare.

What Are the Laws for Child Custody?

The laws for child custody are different in every state. Every state has its own statutes and guidelines that determine the rights of both parents. In most states, the courts will award joint legal custody when both parents have the right to make decisions about their children’s education, religion, health care, and other important aspects of their lives.

Joint physical custody is where the child will live with one parent most of the time and then visit with the other parent on a regular basis.

In some states, there is a presumption that joint physical custody is best for children. This means that if one parent wants to have sole physical custody of the child or if they want to move away with them permanently, it must be proven that this arrangement would be better for the child.


Hire a Family Lawyer for a Custody Arrangement

Without a custody arrangement, a legal process is required to make the decision for you. When the parents cannot agree on who should have custody, judges will often ask for a custody evaluation to help them decide what is in the interest of the child.

To represent your interests, as well as the interests of the child, hire an experienced law firm to help resolve your child custody issues.