9.7Susan M. Hais

The best interest of the children is a standard accepted in most states including Missouri. Child custody agreements are decided by the courts based on that standard.

The ability of the parents to be able to provide adequate support must be considered. Child support payments can balance some financial disparity but the custodial parent should have adequate time to spend with the child. Missouri supports the belief that a child benefits most when they can maintain a relationship with both parents. Custody agreements should consider allowing the child to maintain longstanding relationships with extended families and friends. Allowances for the child continue attending the same school is also considered.

Decisions must be made regarding a parent that wants to relocate to another community, state, or country. Individual circumstances may make relocation in the best interest of the child.

Considerations are made when there has been domestic violence in a relationship or child abuse or neglect. If one or both parents have substance abuse or mental health issues, treatment can be part of the custody and visitation plan. There may be times when a third-party will be awarded custody when neither parent can adequately provide for the child’s welfare.

A court can award joint custody or full custody to one parent with visitation by the other parent. Supervised visitation may be a necessary part of an agreement to protect the child.

Care and attention of a child with special needs must be taken into consideration. The child’s best interest is to insure continuity and access to needed services.

Parenting classes are also a necessary part of a custody agreement to help separating parents understand the impact of the separation on the child.

Contact our firm for assistance with any divorce or custody issues.