When to Employ a Parenting Plan Lawyer in Clayton MO


If you need a parenting plan lawyer to help you with your divorce, contact The Carson Law Firm Firm. We provide a complete evaluation of your situation.

What is a Parenting Plan?


A parenting plan is required in all cases involving child custody in Missouri. It is also known as a custody agreement. It spells out how the parents’ rights and responsibilities in raising their children should be divided.

The document is a plan for parents that cannot co-parent for whatever reason. The Missouri General Assembly introduced it into Missouri custody laws in 1998.

A parenting plan usually contains essential details regarding child custody arrangements, such as legal custody, physical custody, parenting agreement rules, and child support obligations.

Parental Agreement Plan

When parents agree on child custody, they collaborate to develop a parenting plan, often with the assistance of a mediator or a lawyer.

When both parents cannot agree, the parenting plan is decided by trial in a family court. The judge can either make an order following one parent’s plan or create a new parenting plan, which is often a middle ground between the wishes of each parent.

The parenting plan becomes a court order that both parents must follow after it receives approval from a judge.

The following are the main components of a parenting plan:

  • Primary legal custody
  • Physical custody
  • Child aid

Each component of a parenting plan is described in detail below.


Primary Legal Custody (Decision-Making Rights)

A parenting plan specifies whether one parent will have sole custody or if both parents will share joint custody. In the case of sole legal custody, the plan must explain why the parents cannot share joint custody and why sole legal custody is the best for the child’s welfare.

It also explains the custodial parent’s rights to major, daily, and emergency decision-making functions.

Major Decisions:

Examples include medical care, education, extracurricular activities, and other significant parenting decisions.

In joint legal custody cases, both parents are involved in all significant decisions. However, the custodial parent makes all these decisions in a sole child custody case.

Daily Decisions

These are routine decisions made by the parent with physical custody on a particular day, such as bedtime and chores. Parents must collaborate to establish consistent daily routines for their children.

Emergency Decisions

These are decisions made by a parent with physical custody when an emergency occurs. These decisions are made for the child’s immediate health and safety. The parent who makes the decision must notify the other parent immediately.


Physical Custody (Residential Schedule)

The plan specifies whether the parents will share custody and which parent’s address in St. Louis county will be the child’s official address.

The plan specifies whether one parent will have sole physical custody and the terms of their visitation agreement.

When the judge orders supervised visitation, the plan must explain why the child’s safety or emotional well-being would be jeopardized if they were left unsupervised.

A residential schedule, also known as parenting time or visitation time, must be included in all plans.

Parents should follow these standard tips for parenting in Missouri according to Missouri family law:

  • Promote a meaningful relationship between the child and the other parent and refrain from making negative comments about them in the child’s presence
  • Avoid discussing their case, co-parenting, or financial issues with the child
  • Unless the judge restricts access for safety reasons, both parents have access to the child’s school, medical, and other records
  • Before asking the court to intervene in disagreements about the plan, parents must first try mediation
  • If you decide to relocate with your child, you must notify the other parent by certified mail at least 60 days before moving. The other parent has 30 days to object.


Child Aid

Your child support arrangement is also detailed in the parenting plan. This includes who will pay monthly child support and how child care costs, medical/dental insurance, and any other medical needs the child may have should be split.

Creating a Child Custody Parenting Plan

Parents that are Missouri residents must use the state’s parenting plan form as a template for their parenting plans. Alternatively, St. Louis County has its own parental plans forms that parents can use.

Each county court has its preferences regarding which form you should use. While some counties accept the statewide form, the Family Cout of St. Louis County will insist on parents filling out the form specifically for St. Louis.

If you feel the rights and responsibilities listed in the form are insufficient, you can add to them based on your family’s needs. However, you might want to seek formal legal advice from a St. Louis County child custody attorney on how to do this properly.

Common Types of Parenting Plans

The following is a list of the most common types of parenting plans:

  • Sole custody
  • Joint custody
  • Primary physical custody
  • Legal custody
  • Grandparent and visitation custody.


How to Create Parenting Plans That Work

The first step is to have open communication with your ex-spouse. You won’t get far if neither of you is willing to compromise for your child. Consider your child’s best interests according to the law of the state.

School-aged children find it difficult to travel between two homes. So when deciding on child custody and visitation, consider what your children need from both parents. Also, consider the child’s wishes, as well as their mental and physical health.

If you hire a child custody lawyer, be honest about what you wish and what you are willing to sacrifice for your child’s best interest. You should also provide your attorney with relevant details such as pay stubs, tax returns, and work schedules.

If you participate in mediation, bring your work and social schedules, your child’s schedule, and your ideal parenting plan. You must also provide any requested financial documents.

Once you and your spouse agree on a parenting plan, you must give the court a signed copy. Although most courts believe parents know best, you need a judge’s signature to make the agreement a binding court order.

Note that Missouri is neither a father nor mother state. That means the Missouri law does not assign superior parental rights to only one parent like in some other states.

Do You Need Parenting Plan Lawyers in Clayton, MO?

You may not need to hire St. Louis child custody lawyers for all your child custody dispute cases. You and your former spouse can develop a parenting plan together and submit it to the court once you have it written down.

You can seek mediation if you cannot resolve all of the issues. In mediation, a neutral third party will assist you in resolving your conflicts in a private setting. Suppose mediation does not work for you, but you still cannot come to an agreement without assistance. In that case, each party should consider hiring child custody attorneys.

Even if both parents agree on the terms of a parenting plan, it is still a good idea for each of you to have a St. Louis family law attorney review a parenting plan before signing it to avoid future legal issues.

How an Experienced Clayton MO Family Law Attorney Can Help

Parenting plans are an effective way for parents to communicate their wishes. The court will consider a proposed parenting plan seriously, particularly on significant matters such as visitation and primary custody.

Considering the document’s importance, it is vital that you seek the help of a family law attorney in drafting a proposed parenting plan that effectively communicates your desired arrangements.

The dedicated attorneys at our family law firm offer a free consultation to help you decide whether we are the right fit for you.

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