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St. Louis Family Law Blog

Missouri pushes for equal custody in divorce cases

Divorce is a difficult process for anyone, but the prospect of losing your children in a custody battle can be downright terrifying. There has been a historical tendency for divorce courts to rule in favor of the mother in matters of child custody. There seems to have been an underlying presumption, within the court system, that women make better parents than men. More often than not, the mother receives primary custody of her children, while the father may only receive visitation rights every other week. Consequently, the limited time fathers get to spend with their children under this arrangement is often devastating for both parties.

Fortunately, in Missouri, the tides on turning on that front. The state recently passed a new law which—in recognition of the fact that equal parenting time is often in the best interest of the child—gives fathers more time with their kids in the event of a divorce. The law encourages judges to rule that children split their time between both parents, spending 50% of their time with each, if those circumstances appear to be in the child’s best interest.

Determining where your child's needs most lie in divorce

Children are, by nature, resilient people who can bounce back from adversity and overcome obstacles life tosses their way. As a Missouri parent, you do your best to support, encourage and inspire your kids to reach their full potentials. When you shared the news of your impending divorce with them, you figured you'd face several challenges in the near future as they adapt to their new lifestyles. Hopefully, you have a strong support network on hand to help you.

The problem is that it's not always easy to identify and interpret children's needs. If you know where to get help, you may be able to keep major stress at bay. In the meantime, researching children's needs at various developmental stages in life may impact your ability to help them navigate your divorce.

Collaborative divorce beneficial to couples with children

For couples who are looking to divorce and are worried about the effect it could have on the kids, collaborative divorce may be an option worth exploring.

Collaborative divorce takes the process out of the courtroom and into a mediation or negotiation setting, where parties are not pitted against each other to determine a winner and loser. This attitude alone can be healthy for children who may be worried about having to take sides or choose a parent.