FAQs About Child Custody

Q: What are the different kinds of custody?

A: There are two basic types of custody in Missouri: legal custody and physical custody. The person(s) with legal custody has the right to make decisions regarding the health, education and welfare of the child. Time spent with the child or time that one is in charge of the child is called physical custody.

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Q: What different types of legal custody are there?

A: There are two different types of legal custody: sole or joint. Sole legal custody refers to one person making decisions affecting the child's health, education and welfare. Parents can also share joint legal custody in which they share making these decisions.

Legal custody decision-making can include many matters such as the choice or change of school, college, camp or other comparable summer activity, extracurricular activities, sex education, special tutoring, music, art, dance, and other cultural lessons, extent and place of travel away from home, part or full-time employment, purchase or operation of a motor vehicle, decisions regarding litigation on behalf of the child, psychological or psychiatric treatment or counseling, doctors, surgeons, and all other material decisions affecting the health, education and welfare of the child.

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Q: How does the court decide which parent gets physical custody of a child?

A: Missouri law requires that the court consider the following factors when deciding which parent should have physical custody of a child or whether the parents should have joint physical custody:

  • The wishes of the child's parents as to custody and the proposed parenting plan submitted by both parties;
  • The needs of the child for a frequent, continuing and meaningful relationship with both parents, and the ability and willingness of parents to actively perform their functions as mother and father for the needs of the child;
  • The interaction and interrelationship of the child with parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interests;
  • The parent who is more likely to allow the child frequent, continuing and meaningful contact with the other parent;
  • The child's adjustment to the child's home, school and community;
  • The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, including any history of abuse of any individuals involved;
  • The intention of either parent to relocate the principal residence of the child; and
  • The wishes of a child as to the child's custodian.

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Q: What is joint physical custody?

A: Joint physical custody is an arrangement in which both parents have significant but not necessarily equal time with the child.

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Q: I heard that the younger a child is the more likely the mother is to get custody.

A: This presumption known as "the tender years doctrine" is no longer in effect in Missouri.

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Q: My ex-spouse is behind in child support. Do I have to let him or her see our child?

A: Yes. The court keeps the issues of custody and support separate.

Likewise, if a parent doesn't allow visitation with the other parent, child support must still be paid.

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Q: Can I move without telling the other parent of my child?

A: Generally, if a custody order is in place, you must mail a notice of the proposed relocation of your child to the other parent by certified mail, return receipt requested, at least 60 days before your proposed move regardless of how far you are moving. The other parent has 30 days to respond to the notice. The required notice must contain specific information. Please consult your attorney as the penalties for failing to comply with the law can be severe.

Learn More During A Free Consultation

If you are ready to speak to an attorney about your child custody case, call 636-898-5881 or email Hamra Law Firm, LLC, today and request a free initial legal consultation. Hamra Law Firm, LLC, is located in Chesterfield, Missouri, serving clients across St. Louis County and St. Charles County.