Child custody and visitation

Usually, when Missouri parents get a divorce, they either share physical custody or one has physical custody while the other has visitation rights. There are actually two kinds of custody. Legal custody refers to which parent has the right to decide what religion the child will be raised in, what kind of medical care the child will get and other major issues.

Physical custody refers to where the child lives. The child lives with the parent who has physical custody, but if parents do not share physical custody, this does not mean the other parent cannot see the child. Usually, the other parent will have visitation rights. This means the child visits the parent but does not live there. A parent can have sole legal and physical custody, or parents may share legal custody but not physical custody. Parents can also share both legal and physical custody.

Visitation does not necessarily indicate how much time a child spends with the noncustodial parent. While in some visitation arrangements, the child might only see the parent on alternating weekends and on a weekday, in others, the child might spend almost as much time with the noncustodial parent as the custodial parent.

Some parents are able to successfully negotiate an agreement for child custody. However, if a parent must go to court, an attorney may be able to help in preparation. Judges usually take several things into account when making a decision about child custody and visitation including who has been the child’s main caregiver and what arrangement will offer the child stability. The main criteria is whatever is in the child’s best interests. Usually, this involves spending time with both parents, unless there are issues such as addiction or prior incidents of abuse.

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