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How is child custody determined in Missouri?

Divorcing parents in Missouri might benefit from understanding more about the state laws that could affect child custody arrangements. The court's priority in determining child support is to make judgments that are in accordance with the best interest of the child. Some of the relevant factors that courts typically consider include the wishes of both parents, the parenting plan submitted by both parties and the needs of the child to have a continuous relationship with both parents.

Courts will also evaluate whether both parents are able to actively perform their respective parental duties and fulfill the needs of the child. The courts also review the relationships between the parents and other people who may directly affect the best interests of the child, and they will consider which parent is more likely to have allow the other parent to have continuing and meaningful contact with the child.

Family courts also assess how the child will adjust to changes in the community, school and home. Either parent's intention of relocating the child's primary residence is also another critical factor in determining terms of the custody arrangement. The mental and physical health of all parties involved is also a consideration that family courts evaluate when determining custody terms. The child's preference to live with one parent over another can sometimes be a factor in the final judgment of a custody order.

Parents who need help with a child custody agreement often seek the advice of a family law attorney. Legal counsel might be able to evaluate the circumstances and provide guidance regarding the most advisable course of action that supports the best interests of the child.

Source: Missouri Revised Statutes, "Section 452.375.1", January 06, 2015

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