St. Louis Divorce Lawyers

Child Preference in Missouri Child Custody Cases

Missouri aims to consider what is best for the child’s interests when deciding on child custody matters.

In Missouri, a child cannot decide which parent they want to live with until they are 18 years of age. However, if brought to the judge’s attention, they can determine whether there’s a legitimate basis for the child’s request.

Missouri aims to consider what is best for the child’s interests when deciding on child custody matters. However, the state recognizes the need for children to have frequent contact and a meaningful relationship with both parents.

Types of Custody

There are various types of child custody arrangements in Missouri. There are legal and physical custody combinations, and the types are sometimes confusing. Legal custody refers to decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, such as medical care, religion, and education. Physical custody refers to where the child is going to live.

Legal and physical custody are then broken down into sole and joint custody. Sole legal custody means that one parent is allowed to make significant decisions in their child’s life. Joint legal custody means both parents have a say in the decision and often requires the parents to consult on these matters.

If one parent has sole custody, the child only lives with that parent. Joint physical custody means the child lives with each parent for specified periods.

How Child Custody is Determined in Missouri

Custody is ultimately decided based on what is in the child’s best interests. The law requires a judge to consider all relevant factors; some of these factors include:

  • The parent’s ability and willingness to perform their functions for the child’s needs
  • Each parent’s wishes regarding custody
  • The child’s need to have a meaningful relationship with both parents
  • The child’s relationship and interactions with parents, siblings, and anyone else who might be involved
  • The mental and physical health of all involved
  • The child’s adjustment to home, community, school, etc.
  • Whether there’s a history of domestic violence
  • Whether the parent plans to relocate the child
  • The child’s wishes for custody

The child does not have the final answer on where they want to live. However, their wishes for custody are one of the main factors considered in a child custody case. If there is more than one child, the older child’s preference will typically have more of an impact than the younger children’s.

How to Decide on Custody

Child custody mediation is one method of dispute resolution that has many benefits. Mediation is designed to help divorcing or unmarried parents reach an agreement on physical and legal custody issues with the pain and expense of going to court. This process utilizes a third party, a mediator, to help two parties agree on matters relating to divorce, child custody, and other legal issues.

Contact the Betz Law Firm

Our legal team recognizes the delicate nature of child custody proceedings. We make it a priority to ensure that your and your child’s interests are considered first and foremost. The idea of losing precious time with a child can be overwhelming for a parent whose primary goal is to protect their well-being. We have the experience you need to help your family through these difficult times and ensure you are satisfied with the result.

Speak With an Experienced Attorney

Our firm uses experience, good communication, and availability to help families get through life changing events.