If you have a child or children and are currently going through a divorce, one of the greatest concerns in the divorce process will be child custody. Your children are precious and you don't want to lose any time with them due to an unfavorable child custody arrangement. We understand that losing time with your children could be devastating, so we will do everything we can to argue on your behalf for a favorable custody arrangement.

If you are anticipating a tough custody battle, contact The Buxner Law Firm. We can ensure the rights of you and your children are protected and upheld.

Court Evaluations & Child Custody

The family courts in Missouri always try to determine a child custody arrangement that is in the child's best interests. Essentially, a family court's goal is to best represent the child, which is why they encourage parents to plan their own custody arrangement that involves both parents if this is possible. If the court has to step in, then you will want an experienced divorce attorney in St. Louis to represent you.

The court will look at the following factors when determining child custody:

  • The child's relationship with family
  • The mental and physical health of both parents
  • The parent's ability and willingness to provide for the child
  • The child's ability to adjust to a new home, school, or community
  • Any history of domestic violence, child abuse, or neglect by the parents
  • The child's wishes as to custody if he or she is old enough to express these wishes
  • The parent's willingness to allow the child to establish a relationship with the other parent

After considering all of these factors, the court will create a child custody plan, which allows one or both parents to have custody of the child according to a carefully structured schedule.

Missouri Courts Prefer Joint Custody

Child Custody

In Missouri, the courts prefer to award joint custody as this allows both parents to maintain a relationship with the child. If parents can get along and sustain an amicable relationship after divorce, the court will approve a joint custody plan.

Missouri law recognizes several different types of child custody arrangements, including:

  • Joint legal custody: Both parents make decisions regarding education, religion, healthcare, etc.
  • Sole legal custody: One parent makes all decisions regarding how the child will be raised.
  • Joint physical custody: The child physically lives with each parent part of the time.
  • Sole physical custody: One parent has custody of the child, and the child sleeps at that parent's house with the exception of visitation with the non-custodial parent.

Even when joint custody is approved, this decision does not necessarily mean that the individual's time with the child will be even. In some cases, one spouse may be given significantly more time than the other, although they will both have the same amount of authority in the child's life.

Can I Modify an Existing Custody Arrangement?

If you and the other parent agree that a modification to your existing child custody arrangement would be in the best interest of your child, you can file your agreement for modification with the family court. Depending on the nature of the change, the court may approve your request without the need for a formal hearing. If one parent does not agree and the matter is contested, however, the court will require you to present evidence that a modification is necessary, and that the change would be in the best interest of your child.

Some of the reasons why a modification may be in order include:

  • One parent cannot provide a stable home environment for the child
  • One parent is having a hard time keeping a job or finding employment
  • One parent is interfering with the other parent’s visitation rights
  • One parent moves around frequently without cause (i.e. new employment)
  • One parent has become physically or emotionally incapacitated
  • One parent’s lifestyle is detrimental to their child’s well-being

We Will Fight to Protect Your Parental Rights

At The Buxner Law Firm, we can help you to work toward a satisfactory child custody arrangement or modify an existing one. Call today to learn more from a proven child custody lawyer in St. Louis! We have decades of experience in handling various divorce and family law matters, so you can trust that your child’s future will be in capable hands when you come to our firm for help.

You can get started today by scheduling a free, in-office, 30-minute consultation with one of our divorce attorneys. Call now to take the first step!