Couples who are ready to call an end to their marriages might have children they need to consider. One of the issues that divorcing Missouri couples must sort out are related to child custody. But who actually gets to make those decisions? It works in one of two ways: either a couple works out an agreement, or if they can’t, a family court judge will. The former is almost always preferable.
Negotiating a plan
Many couples make the conscious decision to end their marriages amicably. Even when there are some contentious issues, if couples put the needs of the children first, they may be able to agree on the terms of child custody — or at least with the help of counsel through mediation. In such cases meetings can be held in private, in mediation sessions, but a judge must sign off on an agreement. Alternatively, each spouse can have their respective attorneys negotiate a custody agreement as per parents’ wishes.
When the court intervenes
If the couple can’t come to an agreement no matter how they try, each person will get to make a case in front of a family court judge. A judge will come to a decision using the information he or she receives from both parents and any professionals asked for their input. If life situations change it is possible for a parent to seek a child custody modification through the court, but if both parents agree to a modification, they may iron out the details on their own or with the help of their lawyers.
Doing what is best for the children is the most important thing when it comes to child custody. Parents know what their children need and what helps them to grow emotionally and also what will cause them problems. Whether negotiating with a former spouse is doable or if parents have to go to court, with the proper help, they can fashion a custody plan that suits the family’s needs.