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Child Custody

If two parents can't reach a mutual agreement concerning custody of the children, the court will determine custody based on the best interests of the child, considering all relevant factors, including:

The wishes of the parents and the proposed parenting plan submitted by the parents;

The needs of the child for a frequent, continuing and meaningful relationship with both parents and the ability and willingness of parents to actively involved in meeting the needs of the child;

• The relationship of the child with parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interests;

• Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent, continuing and meaningful contact with the other parent;

• The adjustment of the child 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 custodial parent (this factor grows in importance as the child gets older).

According to Missouri law, when determining custody, there shall be no preference given to either parent in the awarding of custody because of that parent's age, sex, or financial status, nor because of the age or sex of the child.  The most important thing to take away from this is that judges in Missouri are directed by law to not favor a mother over a father, as was often the case in the past.

As is obvious from the amount of factors listed above, custody issues can be extremely complicated and there is no easy answer most of the time.  Above all, most judges will primarily be concerned with what is best for the children, not what is best for the parents.