Missouri Custody and Visitation Schedules
In Missouri, you can create your own custody and visitation schedule (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own schedule, you can use the Custody X Change software.
Custody X Change is software that creates custody schedules, calendars, and professional parenting plan documents. Use the free download to see how it can help you.
You can also use Custody X Change to:
- Explore options for your visitation schedule
- Negotiate a schedule and agreement with the other parent
- Show your attorney schedules that you like
- Prepare sample schedules and plans for mediation
- Make a schedule and plan to present in court
Before creating a child visitation schedule in the State of Missouri, it is important to be aware of the laws pertaining to family and domestic relations in the state so you can make a child visitation schedule that will be readily accepted by the court while meeting your child's needs.
These laws are found in the Missouri Revised Statutes, Chapter 452, Dissolution of Marriage, Divorce, Alimony, and Separate Maintenance (MRS 452.375).
The law allows parents to have significant input in child custody and visitation proceedings. In fact, parents may work together and create a parenting plan and child visitation schedule to submit to the court for approval.
Becoming familiar with the laws will help provide you with the tools necessary to create a successful custody and visitation schedule.
That is not the way it works. The State of Missouri does not discriminate against a parent based on gender, age, or financial status (MRS 452.375.8).
Gone are the old fashioned notions that the children should be given to the mother, solely on the basis that she is the mother, or that the children should go to the father since the mother was "just a homemaker" while the father was successfully employed.
Each parent is entitled to the custody of their child and they are weighed as equals, until circumstances are evidenced that would tilt the scales in favor of one parent over the other.
The age and gender of the child is also irrelevant in determining child custody.
It is the policy of the State of Missouri that it is in the best interests of a child to have meaningful, frequent, and on-going contact with both of his or her parents after a family dissolution, unless continuing a parental relationship in such a manner would cause harm or be detrimental to the child (MRS 452.375.4).
Parents are also encouraged by the policies of the State to have equal participation in making decisions involving the child's health, education, and general welfare. Simply divorcing does not eradicate basic parental responsibilities in the State of Missouri.
Abuse, neglect, domestic violence, alcoholism, substance abuse, and abandonment are some of the reasons parental responsibilities and visitation would be limited or revoked.
There are two kinds of custody in Missouri:
- Physical custody pertains to the child's residence and the actual physical care of the child.
- Legal custody involves parental responsibilities and the authority to make major, important decisions in the child's life.
There are also two different types of joint and legal custody:
- Sole custody means only one parent will have that custodial obligation.
- Joint custody means the parents shall share the custodial duties.
There are several ways that custody may be awarded (MRS 452.375.5):
- The parents may share both joint legal custody and joint physical custody.
- One parent may have sole legal custody and sole physical custody.
- The parents may share joint legal custody with one parent having sole physical custody.
- The parents may share joint physical custody with one parent having sole legal custody.
- Custodial rights and/or visitation may be granted to a third party.
The type of custody each of you shall have should be considered when creating a child visitation schedule.
The child visitation schedule should be comprised of three basic elements:
- A basic residential schedule that defines when the child will spend time with each parent on a regular, on-going basis.
- A holiday schedule that dictates the times the child shall spend holidays and special days with each parent.
- A vacation schedule that allows the child extended time with each parent during school breaks and the personal vacation time of each parent.
The court makes decisions based on what it determines to be in the child's best interests.
These are the factors that the court will consider when determining what is best for the child:
- The wishes of the parents as to custody and the proposed parenting plan of both parents
- The needs of the child for a frequent, continuing, meaningful relationship with both parents
- The ability and willingness of the parents to actively perform their functions as mother and father for the needs of the child
- Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent, continuing, and meaningful contact with the other parent
- The child's adjustment to home, school, and community environments
- The interaction and relationships of the child between each parent, siblings, and other important people in the child's life
- The mental and physical health of everyone involved (including any history of abuse or domestic violence)
- The intention of either parent to relocate the principal residence of the child
- The wishes of the child as to a custodian or residence
Since the court will look at all of these factors and anything else that is relevant, you should also consider them for your schedule. This can help you pick the residence of the child and it can also help you figure out the time-sharing schedule that is right for your child.
You should also look at your unique situation and make a schedule that works for everyone involved.
There are no set rules or standardize schedules that you have to follow. As parents, you have complete creative control over your child's schedule, as long as you are able to work together and agree on one.
By evaluating your schedules, you may create a child visitation schedule that offers your child the optimal amount of quality time with each of you. If you are flexible and creative, you can create a child visitation schedule perfectly suited to your child's needs.
If you are unable to agree on a schedule, the court will make one for you and you will be legally obligated to comply with it, so setting differences aside and working together for your child's sake is always in the best interests of the child and yours.
The top fifteen cities in Missouri (by population, US Census Bureau, 2008) are: Kansas City, St. Louis, Springfield, Independence, Columbia, Lee's Summit, O'Fallon, St. Joseph, St. Charles, Blue Springs, St. Peters, Florissant, Joplin, Chesterfield, Jefferson City.