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Potential clients often contact me telling me that they want to fight for sole custody or joint custody of their children. Often, after I explain to them how Missouri defines child custody, they either change their goals or realize that the label, in some cases, is not nearly as important as the details. So how does the state of Missouri look at custody? First, there are two components in Missouri to child custody: legal custody and physical custody. In the last article we discussed Legal Custody, now I will give a brief overview of Physical Custody. Physical custody deals with where the child actually “resides” and what specific days and times the children are with each parent. Joint physical custody may mean that the parents have equal parenting time but that is not always the case. A parent that has sole physical custody is very unlikely to have the child 100% of the time to the exclusion of the other parent.

Because Missouri favors joint custody, the most common arrangement is joint physical custody, with one parent being designated the “residential parent”. The children likely attend school in the district the residential parent resides in, and often the residential parent receives child support from the other parent. The children may spend up to 50% of the time with the non-residential parent. A sole physical custody situation is one where a court may determine that it is in the child’s best interests that one parent’s time with the child be restricted. This may be due to abuse, drug or alcohol use or an unsuitable living situation. It is also possible that that parent’s custody time may be supervised as well, either by court staff or someone designated by the parties or the court. In a situation where one parent has gone for a long time without seeing the children, that parent’s time may be also be temporarily restricted as that parent and child get reacquainted with each other.
For questions about child custody contact The Law Office of Barbara Graham or call us at 314-725-7600.