My marriage is dissolved, who gets the children?
After the dissolution of a marriage under Missouri law, or as part of the process of dissolution, the competent court decides, following a petition by one or both parents, on who will have custody of the children of the marriage.
What is custody?
Custody is composed by the decision-making rights, duties, and authority to make decisions related to the life of a child. Missouri law refers to both physical and legal custody Physical custody refers to the parent in charge of the day to day matters of the child. Legal custody refers to matters like education, religion, and health of the child. The order deciding on custody indicates which parent gets each custody. The competent court will also determine whether physical and/or legal custody will be sole (by one parent) or joint (shared by both parents).
How is it determined?
In case the parties are not able to reach an agreement on the custody of the children, the competent court decides on the matter, always considering the best interests of the child(ren). The following are some of the circumstances the court will consider when deciding on custody matters:
- The needs of the child to maintain a relationship with both parents;
- The interaction of the child with each parent and other members of the family;
- Which parent will allow the child to maintain a relationship with the other parent;
- The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school and community;
- The health (both physical and mental) of the parents and any other individuals involved including any history of violence or abuse;
- The parents’ plans to relocate; and
- The wishes of the child.
What do I have to do?
A parent intending to apply for custody of a child whose paternity has been established under Missouri law but for whom no custody order is yet in place, may file a petition for child custody and support form with the court that determined the paternity of the child (court of continued jurisdiction). The form must be completed and filed together with a certified birth certificate of the child, a Declaration of Paternity filed with the Missouri Bureau of Vital Records, the administrative child support order as well as any court orders involving the child.
Once filed, the court will serve the other parent (respondent). Following service, the respondent will have 30 days to file a response. After those 30 days, the court will set a hearing date.
If you have been served with a petition for child custody, are considering filing a petition of this kind or have any questions, a family lawyer can assist in reviewing the documentation and guiding you through the procedure, visit Courtney & Mills, LLC online, or call 417-869-9888 (Local) or 888-844-7518 (Toll Free) to schedule a consultation with a Springfield family attorney.