A Missouri divorce may leave you wondering whether your children will live with you or your spouse. In the past, people often assumed mothers should automatically retain custody of children, but that is not the case anymore.

The state wants the child’s best interests when it comes to visitation schedules and parenting plans.

Child’s best interests

The passage of House Bill No. 1550 by the Missouri General Assembly changed a variety of child custody laws within the state in 2016. While not a complete overhaul, the updated legislation puts the best interests of the child first when deciding custody. This means both you and the other parent should have the maximum amount of time possible with your child to develop a healthy parent-child bond.

The court strongly advises that the parents come up with a parenting plan suitable for both of them and puts the child’s best interests at the forefront. If you are not able to do so, the court may institute a temporary order.

Child custody options

Unless the other parent can prove you are unfit to see or parent your child, you may choose from a variety of custodial arrangements:

  • Joint legal custody
  • Joint physical custody
  • Sole legal custody
  • Sole physical custody

Within these, you and the other parent can customize a parenting plan that works for the two of you and your child.

Your options are irrespective of who your child currently lives with. For example, joint physical custody is still an option if the other parent has had your child residing with him or her since you separated.

The parenting plan is the best place to outline when both of you have access to the children. While the normal schedule is important, you want to include holidays and summer schedules as well.