Missouri Custody and Visitation Schedule Guidelines

The laws about Missouri custody and visitation schedules are found in Chapter 452 of the Missouri Revised Statutes.

Here are some guidelines from the laws to help you make your schedule.

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Physical custody

Physical custody is the time your child spends living with each parent.

You can have joint physical custody arrangements when your child spends significant, but not necessarily equal, periods of time living with both parents. Joint physical custody should be shared so that each parent has frequent, continuing, and meaningful contact with the child.

Or, you can have sole physical custody arrangements where your child lives with one parent and has visitation with the other parent.

Custody and visitation arrangements

Your parenting plan must have a specific, written schedule that shows your custody and visitation arrangements.

Your schedule should include:

  • A residential schedule that shows weekday and weekend parenting time
  • A holiday schedule that includes major holidays, school holidays, the child's birthday, Mother's Day, and Father's Day
  • A summer break schedule that shows how the winter, spring, summer, and other vacations from school will be spent

Your custody and visitation arrangements must also include:

  • The times and places for exchanges
  • A plan for sharing transportation
  • Suggested procedures for requesting temporary schedule changes
  • Appropriate times for telephone access

You can make your schedule in a custody calendar so you can see when each parent has the child. You can include your calendar in your plan, but you must also write our your schedule and your other arrangements.

Ways to make a schedule

You and the other parent can negotiate a schedule and submit it together with your plan to the court. The court usually approves schedules and plans submitted jointly.

If you and the other parent can't agree on a schedule, you must each make a proposed schedule to file with the court. You will need to explain to the judge why your schedule is best for your child.

The court decides on the schedules for parents who can't agree. The judge may accept either parent's schedule or make a new one.

If you want restrictions or limitations on the other parent's time, you should have reasons why the restrictions are requested.

Standard custody and visitation schedule

Missouri doesn't have a standard custody and visitation schedule.

If you and the other parent can make a schedule together, you can have any schedule you think is best for your situation.

If you can't agree on the schedule, the court will decide one for you. You will have to follow the court-ordered schedule.

Missouri policies about custody and visitation

You should consider these policies as you make your schedule:

  • The court first considers awarding joint physical custody and may award it even if one parent opposes it
  • The court considers it in the best interest of the child to have frequent, meaningful, and continuing contact with both parents
  • The court does not consider the age, sex, or financial status of a parent or the age or sex of the child when looking at custody
  • All custody decisions should be made in the best interest of the child

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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.

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