Keep Your Parent-Child Relationship Secure For The Future
Divorce is a painful time for any family, but especially difficult when you have children. Nothing is more important than your relationship with your children and that should not change because of a divorce. With proper handling and planning, you can safeguard that relationship and create a positive future for your family.
We understand how difficult this process can be. Curtis Garner of Law Office of Curtis M. Garner & Associates, LLC, has many years of experience helping clients through their divorce cases, resolving the difficult custody and parenting issues that once seemed impossible to solve. We help families throughout the Springfield area.
How Does Child Custody Work In Missouri?
Many parents are concerned about custody and how much involvement they will have in their child’s life in the future. We will help you fight for your custody rights, whether that means negotiating with the other parent for an agreement or convincing the judge at trial. Missouri law allows several different types of custody arrangements, including:
- Joint legal and physical custody — both parents make major life decisions about the child together and both have time with the child
- Sole legal custody to one parent and joint physical custody — one parent makes major life decisions, but both will have time with the child
- Sole physical custody to one parent and joint legal custody — both parents make major life decisions, but the child only lives with one parent
- Sole legal and physical custody — only one person makes decisions and the child only lives with that person
- Third-party custody or visitation — for example, grandparent visitation
Many divorcing couples agree on sharing custody in some form. If they disagree and the court must decide on the outcome, Missouri courts will apply a “best interest of the child” standard. They look at many factors, including:
- A history of abuse or neglect
- The proposed parenting plans from the parents
- Whether each parent will support the child’s relationship with the other parent
- The child’s emotional needs, including interaction with siblings and others
- The child’s own wishes
- A parent’s plan to move out of the area
- Each parent’s health and well-being
Missouri law does not recognize a preference for either the mother or the father when deciding child custody or child support issues.
Parenting Plans Help You Parent Better Together
Missouri law requires a parenting plan for all custody cases and for good reason. Parenting plans lay out a map of how you plant to co-parent into the future. You can negotiate a plan together and submit a joint plan to the court. These plans tend to be approved by the court. The benefit here is that it saves time and money, and allows you and your ex to make the decisions, even if you have to compromise on some issues. If you cannot agree, the court will require each of you to submit your own plan, and the judge will either accept one of the plans or create an entirely different plan.
The judge is looking for the best interest of the child and making sure the plan covers certain elements. Our firm works closely with each client to develop a thorough parenting plan. Each plan should consider the following factors:
- Visitation schedules, including holidays
- Division of legal custody
- Education and extracurricular activity decisions and costs
- Health care decisions and costs
- Child care decisions and costs
- Methods of communication and dispute resolution
We can help you negotiate these points with your ex or help you develop your own plan to submit to the court.