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Understanding St. Charles family law attorneys Missouri Child Custody Law: Protecting Your Child’s Best Interests

If you are divorcing in Missouri and you are a parent, your biggest concern is likely the safety, welfare and happiness of your children. For this reason, it is essential that you understand how child custody decisions are made in the state of Missouri.

There are two types of custody in Missouri: legal custody and physical custody.

Missouri legal custody determines who has the authority to make major decisions regarding a child's upbringing."Joint legal custody" means that both parents share the authority to make decisions relating to the health, education and welfare of the child, and must confer with one another when making these decisions. In some cases, one may want to allocate certain decisions to one parent. For example, parents may decide to allow the parent with physical custody the sole right to make certain health care decisions, especially in an emergency.

Missouri physical custody refers to where a child lives. "Joint physical custody" means the child resides with or is under the care and supervision of each of the parentsfor certain periods of time, although the amounts of time may not be equal. Joint physical custody allows a child frequent, continuing and meaningful contact with both parents on a continuing basis.

In some cases, it may not in the best interest of the child to live with one or both of the parents. "Sole physical custody" permits a child to live with only one person. In this case, visitation determines how and when a parent without physical custody of a child sees the child.

When a Missouri court determines custody arrangements, they must put the best interests of the child first. Some factors that the court considers include:

  • The wishes of the parents as to custody of the child
  • The proposed parenting plan submitted by both parties
  • The need a child has for a frequent, continuing and meaningful relationship with both parents
  • The ability and willingness of the child's parents to actively perform their functions as mother and father and to provide for the needs of the child
  • The interaction and interrelationship of the child with parents, siblings, and other family members or persons who may significantly affect the child's best interests
  • Which parent is more likely to allow the child to have frequent, continuing and meaningful contact with the other parent
  • The child's adjustment to the child's home, school, and community
  • Any plans either parent has made to relocate the principal residence of the child
  • The wishes of the child
  • The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, including any history of abuse or domestic violence of or by any individuals involved
  • If there is a history of abuse or domestic violence, 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.


The St. Charles family law attorneys at A & L, Licker Law Firm, LLC understand there is nothing more important than your child's welfare. We will do our best to protect the interests of your child and find an arrangement that you are comfortable with. If you need assistance with Missouri child custody or Missouri child support arrangements, contact the Licker Law Firm at (636) 916-5400.


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1861 Sherman Drive
St Charles, MO 63303
Phone: 636-916-5400

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St. Louis, MO 63109
Phone: 314-353-0834

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7321 S. Lindbergh Ave., Suite 222
St. Louis, MO 63125
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1281 Graham Rd, Suite 300
Florissant, MO 63031
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2 Park Place Professional Centre
Belleville, Illinois 62226
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Granite City, IL 62040
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