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Missouri Parenting Plans

Whenever possible, it is best for your child to have frequent, continuing, and meaningful contact with both parents as well as other family members. To help accomplish this goal, Missouri requires a parenting plan whenever someone files a petition for custody or visitation. These plans help parents who are not living together create an environment for their child or children that promotes their best interests.

The parenting plans are detailed and comprehensive, focusing on four major areas:

  • Custody and parenting time
  • Decision-making rights and responsibilities
  • Dispute resolution
  • The child's expenses

Missouri has a parenting plan form to help you provide the necessary information for a plan. It is best if the parents can work out a plan together, but if not, each parent must submit a plan. If the parents cannot agree, the court will make determinations based on the submitted plans.

This article will give you a general overview of the information and decisions that you will need to make in developing your Missouri parenting plan.

Missouri Parenting Plans: The Basics

Developing a parenting plan is no small matter. You will be asked to provide detailed information about how and when each parent will spend time with the child as well as answer questions as to how you will handle any problems in the future. There is a detailed form and statute that describes the information that will be need, but sometimes statutes can be confusing, so we have provided a summary in "plain English" to assist you.


Missouri Revised Statutes, Chapter 452

Missouri Supreme Court

Custody and Parenting Time

Who will have legal and physical custody of the children?

You will have to decide if one or both parents have legal custody, and/or physical custody. You may decide to share both types of custody or only share one. It is common for parents to share legal custody and grant one parent sole physical custody. It is also possible for one parent to have sole legal and physical custody, and the other parent to have visitation rights.

  • Legal custody: the right to make decisions on the child's health, education, and welfare
  • Physical custody: the right to have specific periods of time with the child

Where will the children reside?

  • The address of at least one of the parents needs to be designated as the children's address.
  • 90-day notice is required before either a parent or the children can change residence.

What will the parenting time schedule be for each parent?

  • Include a complete parenting schedule covering 24/7 for each parent.
  • Designate a beginning and an end date and time for visits.

How are children picked up and dropped off?

  • Designate locations where children will be dropped off or picked up for each scheduled parenting time.
  • Note any changes that need to be made for when school is not in session.
  • If the exchange will occur at a location other than a parent's residence, each parent shall be at the designated place and time for the exchange. The dropping-off parent is responsible for bringing the children to the exchange.
  • Consider if other family members may pick up or drop off the children (e.g., grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.)

Who will be responsible for transporting the children between parents?

  • Decide who will be responsible for extraordinary transportation costs.
  • Decide who will transport the children for each leg of the journey (e.g., Mother is responsible for transportation during the week and Father is responsible on weekends and holidays).

How are holidays and vacations handled?

  • Decide who gets the children for each holiday.
  • Consider the start and end times for the holidays.
  • Consider every other year or divide up the holidays.
  • Specify how you will handle vacations.

What if you need to change the schedule?

  • Parents should attempt to agree on any changes, but the parent receiving the request shall have the final determination.
  • Designate how the request for a change is to be made.
  • Designate how much notice is required for a request change.
  • Designate when a response to a request is to be made.
  • Parents are to cooperate to allow children to meet school and social commitments.

Can I require telephone contact?

  • Parents should children reasonable access to the telephone during any visit to call the other parent.
  • Designate any restrictions that may be necessary (e.g., no calls after 11:00 pm or before 6:00 am).

How will you handle any special needs?

  • Note any of the child's specials needs (e.g., medications or health conditions).
  • Determine how supervised visits will be handled.
  • Are there persons that the children should not have contact with?
  • Are there places that the children should not be allowed to go?

Decision-Making Rights and Responsibilities

Missouri has a strong public policy to encourage both parents to participate in decisions that concern their children, but sometimes it is better to have one parent responsible for certain things. You should consider each of the following areas as to whether you will share decision making, or whether one parent will be responsible:

  • Education
  • Medical
  • Dental
  • Selection of health care providers
  • Selection of child care providers
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Religious upbringing

Agreements About Communication

Make agreements to ensure you communicate about important topics, including:

  • All school, sporting, or special activities concerning the children.
  • Address or telephone number changes.
  • Any communication from the court.

Dispute Resolution

You should attempt to resolve all matters with the other parent, but if you cannot do so, consider a plan that will help resolve a dispute such as:

  • A pre-arranged agreement to mediate disputes by a designated counselor or mediator.
  • An agreement that the court has the authority to resolve the matter.
Covering the Child's Expenses

Both parents are responsible for the support and expenses of their children. The court will determine the amount of child support based on a variety of factors. However, there may be other expenses that require special consideration on who pays and what percentage. These expenses may include:

  • Health insurance coverage
  • Medical
  • Dental
  • Psychological
  • Other health care
  • Education expenses
  • Childcare
  • Other expenses (music lessons, sports equipment, uniforms)
Grandparenting Time

Grandparents may be granted reasonable visitation rights (Section 452.402 )

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.

Research Missouri Law

Missouri Parenting Plan: Related Resources

Have Questions About Your Parenting Plan? A Missouri Attorney Can Help

It is in the best interests of the child to have frequent and quality time with both parents, but it can be a daunting task. There is so much detailed information and possible future consequences. You may have questions or need help creating your Missouri parenting plan. Contacting a qualified Missouri child custody attorney can help you.

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