Custody & Visitation

Whether you are going through a divorce, original paternity action or a modification, custody issues are inevitable. There are many options surrounding custody designations and parenting schedules. It is important to choose an attorney who is knowledgeable about these options and their implications. In Missouri, the Court uses the following factors to determine the best interests of the child:

  (1)  The wishes of the child's parents as to custody and the proposed parenting plan submitted by both parties;

  (2)  The needs of the child for a frequent, continuing and meaningful relationship with both parents and the ability and willingness of parents to actively perform their functions as mother and father for the needs of the child;

  (3)  The interaction and interrelationship of the child with parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interests;

  (4)  Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent, continuing and meaningful contact with the other parent;

  (5)  The child's adjustment to the child's home, school, and community;

  (6)  The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, including any history of abuse of any individuals involved.  If the court finds that a pattern of domestic violence as defined in section 455.010 has occurred, and, if the court also finds that awarding custody to the abusive parent is in the best interest of the child, then the court shall enter written findings of fact and conclusions of law.  Custody and visitation rights shall be ordered in a manner that best protects the child and any other child or children for whom the parent has custodial or visitation rights, and the parent or other family or household member who is the victim of domestic violence from any further harm;

  (7)  The intention of either parent to relocate the principal residence of the child; and

  (8)  The wishes of a child as to the child's custodian.