When a Missouri couple decides to divorce, it is the adults who are deciding to go their separate ways. Their assets and debts can be divided as a part of this process. However, when children are involved, there is often much more to be considered. Concerned parents want to make sure that the child custody arrangements they agree to are in the best interest of the children.
Unless there is a history of abuse or other extenuating circumstances, the courts generally consider it important that the children be able to maintain a close relationship with both parents. For this reason, visitation and some form of joint custody is common. This joint custody may be in the form of joint physical, joint legal or both parents sharing joint legal and physical custody.
In making the determination as to what form of custody should be awarded, the courts look at the parenting plan that each parent has proposed. Depending upon the age of the children, the children’s wishes may also be taken into consideration. Additionally, each parent’s apparent willingness to foster a continued parent/child relationship will be considered. Finally, where each parent will be living and the related logistics may be a factor in the ultimate determination.
Even though the parents have chosen to end their marital relationship, their relationship as parents still remains. As such, they will often need to work together to encourage and nurture the children regardless of the exact child custody arrangement. Unlike other parts of the Missouri divorce settlement, child custody remains a part of both parent’s lives until the children are grown.