When you create a parenting plan with your child’s other parent or when you go to court over a custody dispute, the court must do what is best for your child.

The following explains what determines the best interest of the child and how a court comes to a decision.

What factors affect the best interest of the child?

Several factors may affect the court’s decision on what the best interests of a child are. Missouri law requires the courts to consider the needs of the child in regards to frequent and meaningful relationships with his or her parents. The courts must also take into consideration the child’s adjustment period to a new home or community. A child must be in a place where he or she is not at risk of harm.

How do courts choose what is in the best interest of the child?

According to the Missouri Courts, the system often considers joint custody to be in the best interest of the child. Of course, this may not be the case in all child custody disputes. In situations that involve domestic violence or neglect, joint custody may not be an option.

If parents cannot decide on a parenting plan, then the court will select a residential parent. The court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the child. The courts may set a pre-trial hearing so that the judge can review important matters. Then, at the trial hearing, the judge will listen to evidence to decide the case. Parents may include testimony, witness testimonies, documents and other evidence to prove their case.