Springfield Child Custody Attorney
Custody issues arise in divorce cases when married individuals have children together. A court order is necessary to give guidance on the time a child will spend with each parent, as well as how the parents should handle decision-making for the child. Custody issues also arise between unmarried individuals who have children and can even apply in child guardianship cases. Without a Court order, there is no plan that can be enforced to ensure the parents are getting to spend time with their children.
Couples might fight over property or spousal support. Still, nothing is more important to them than their children, and the issues surrounding child custody in a divorce are understandably often the most emotional, important and hotly contested matters to resolve. At Courtney & Mills, our Springfield child custody attorneys provide clear guidance to parents on Missouri child custody law. We work to create practical solutions to custody issues that meet the needs of families in the best interests of the parents and the children. Call us to discuss your child custody case so you can make the right decisions and get the best results through experienced legal advice and representation in Missouri divorce matters.
Missouri child custody law
When deciding matters of child custody, Missouri courts look at two different aspects of custody – physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to the actual physical possession of the child. In other words, which parent does the child live, when and where? Will the child live primarily or completely with one parent, or will the parents share custody on an equal basis? Is it important to the children for the court to award the family home to the custodial parent as part of the property division?
Legal custody, on the other hand, refers to parental decision-making and child-rearing. In other words, how do the parents, once divorced, continue to make decisions regarding their child’s education, religion, health care, and extracurricular activities? Should the parents make these decisions jointly, or should the custodial parent have a greater voice or the final say? What if the parents disagree? Legal custody can be a thorny issue for the parents and the courts to deal with.
In a divorce or child custody dispute, Missouri courts have the authority to grant sole custody to one parent alone or joint custody shared by the parents in some fashion. The question of joint or sole custody applies to both physical and legal custody, and the two do not have to be the same. The parents can share joint custody, for example, but some or all legal custody authority can be given solely to the primary custodial parent. The judge will decide custody matters in whatever way the court finds is in the best interests of the children.
The policy of the state of Missouri favors meaningful, continuous contact for each parent with the children, along with each parent having a share in making parental decisions. However, the best interests of the children are always foremost in the judge’s mind. The court will consider a number of factors in making custody decisions, and the family law attorneys at Courtney & Mills will assemble a strong case advocating effectively for our clients on each applicable element. These factors include:
- Each parent’s desires
- The children’s preferences
- The extent to which the children have adjusted to their current home, school and community environments
- The physical and mental health of the parents and children
- Whether either parent is likely to move their principal residence
- Which parent is better suited to encourage continuing, frequent and meaningful contact between the child and the other parent
The Parenting Plan – Your Road Map to Custody
The parenting plan guides the conduct of the parties with regard to the children. It provides detail and context to the decisions of the court or the parties regarding physical custody and legal custody. The parenting plan sets out the “parenting time” which each parent spends with the children and addresses matters such as weekly overnights and weekend visitation, holidays, vacations, school breaks, and how the parents will arrange custody exchanges. Parenting plans also cover legal custody issues such as the division of costs for extracurricular activities, health expenses and tax allocations. The parenting plan might allocate specific decision-making authority to the custodial parent while stating that certain other decisions will be made jointly. The plan can also include how disputes over decisions will be resolved.
The parenting plan serves as your road map through the complicated route of sharing custody. The more comprehensive and complete the parenting plan, the more practical it will be, and the more likely the parents will be able to handle matters on their own without having to go back to court to litigate and fight over custody decisions. Our child custody attorneys will work with you and your co-parent to craft a detailed parenting plan that meets the needs of you and your family. We’ll fight for your rights to custody in court as necessary, but to the greatest extent possible, if we can help you reach agreement on parenting matters, the road ahead will be smoother and safer for you and your kids.
Call the Springfield Child Custody Attorneys at Courtney & Mills for Honest, Compassionate and Helpful Advice
For practical legal advice and professional representation in your Missouri child custody case, call the Springfield child custody lawyers Courtney & Mills at 417-869-9888. We’ll talk to you about your desires for child custody and let you know how we can help.