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What are the factors considered when setting child custody?

When a couple decides to end their marriage, important divorce issues must be addressed, such as custody. Missouri residents currently in the middle of a divorce with children involved should seek some answers regarding child custody laws in the state. The goal is to minimize the effects of divorce on the children as much as possible, however, you may be in the middle of a situation where your spouse is not ready to negotiate or create a custody arrangement that benefits both sides. In similar cases, it is imperative to learn more about child custody laws especially the important factors being considered in determining child custody arrangements.

Similar to other state laws, Missouri child custody laws prioritize the best interests of the child. You and your spouse should know that each party's preferred parenting plan or wishes for the upbringing of the child are carefully weighted before determining the child custody arrangement.

Courts also consider the emotional needs of the child, the child's own wishes, relocation plans, mental and physical well being of parents and any history of abuse. For example, if one parent has a history of neglect, the other parent may be awarded sole custody of the children. In cases where both parents are willing to cooperate for the sake of the children, the judge may award joint and legal custody to both parents.

How the case proceeds depend on how you and your spouse get along. If you and your spouse are willing to negotiate, you may use alternative options, such as collaborative law or mediation.

Litigation might be the final option for you and your spouse, but could be the best option for the child. Having a family law judge decide a child custody arrangement might not fully serve the interests of the parents but could benefit the best interests of the child if the parents are unable to reach an agreement on their own. Because there are various options and legal routes when devising a child custody agreement, it is important that both parents understand their rights.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Missouri child custody laws," Accessed on Sep. 10, 2014

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Joseph J. Porzenski
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