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Missouri Child Custody Laws

Divorce is a multifaceted legal process that involves property division, spousal support, and -- the most emotionally difficult part of divorce for couples with children -- child custody. All states have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, which discourages interstate kidnapping of children by non-custodial parents. Under this law, custody orders are followed and enforced no matter where in the U.S. the child resides.

Generally, though, child custody laws are passed and enforced at the state level. Missouri child custody laws, as do virtually all state laws, consider the best interests of the child when determining custody. Several factors go into this determination, including the following:

  • Each parents' proposed parenting plan and wishes for their child
  • Child's emotional need to maintain close relationships with each parent
  • Child's own wishes (which may or may not coincide with his/her best interests)
  • Any relocation plans
  • Each parent's willingness to encourage the child to have a healthy relationship with the other parent
  • Mental and physical well-being of each party involved
  • Any history of abuse or neglect

In accordance to Missouri child custody law, the court considers five types of custody arrangements before making a decision. These include:

  1. Joint physical and legal custody to both parents
  2. Joint physical custody to both parents and sole legal custody to one
  3. Joint legal custody to both parents and sole physical custody to one
  4. Sole custody (both legal and physical) to one parent or the other
  5. Custody or visitation by third parties (including grandparent visitation)

To learn more about Missouri child custody laws, review the following list of provisions. FindLaw's Child Custody section includes a wide variety of both general and state-specific articles and resources.

Code Section §452.375
Types of Custody Considered
  • Joint physical and legal custody (both parents)
  • Joint physical custody (both parents), sole legal custody (one parent)
  • Joint legal custody (both parents), sole physical custody (one parent)
  • Sole legal and physical custody (one parent)
  • Third-party custody
Year Uniform Child Custody Act Adopted 1978
Joint Custody an Option? Yes, §452.375
Grandparent Visitation Rights Recognized? Yes, §452.402
Child's Own Wishes Considered? Yes

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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Missouri Child Custody Laws: Related Resources

In a Custody Dispute? Call a Missouri Family Law Attorney Today 

Child custody can become an emotional roller coaster for both you and your child's other parent. If you find yourself having trouble understanding child custody laws or simply want some sound legal advice from a child custody expert, you can start by contacting a skilled Missouri family law attorney today.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

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  • Custody & child visitation cases are emotional, and a lawyer can seek the best outcome
  • A lawyer can help protect your children's interests
  • Lawyers can seek to secure visitation rights

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