Child Custody Issues
When awarding child custody and visitation, Missouri statutes require judges to rule, first and foremost, in “the best interests of the child.” Unless it is clearly not in the child’s best interests, a judge is required to create a custody arrangement that promotes “frequent, continuing, and meaningful contact with both parents.” The statutes further instruct judges to “consider all relevant factors including:
(1) The wishes of the child’s parents as to custody and the proposed parenting plan submitted by both parties;
(2) The needs of the child for a frequent, continuing and meaningful relationship with both parents and the ability and willingness of parents to actively perform their functions as mother and father for the needs of the child;
(3) The interaction and interrelationship of the child with parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;
(4) Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent, continuing and meaningful contact with the other parent;
(5) The child’s adjustment to the child’s home, school, and community;
(6) The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, including any history of abuse of any individuals involved. If the court finds that a pattern of domestic violence has occurred, and, if the court also finds that awarding custody to the abusive parent is in the best interest of the child, then the court shall enter written findings of fact and conclusions of law. Custody and visitation rights shall be ordered in a manner that best protects the child and the parent or other family or household member who is the victim of domestic violence from any further harm;
(7) The intention of either parent to relocate the principal residence of the child; and
(8) The wishes of a child as to the child’s custodian.
Modification of Child Support and Child Custody Orders
A child support or child custody order can be modified if there has been “a substantial and continuing change in circumstances that makes the original order unreasonable.” There are various ways in which circumstances can change to make the original order unreasonable.
A substantial and continuing change usually exists if there is a 20% difference between the child support amount in the order versus the amount the obligor would have to pay in light of changes in the parties’ finances since the order.
There is a continuing change of circumstances, allowing the court to modify a prior visitation or custody decree, whenever the custodial parent moves to another state.
We are happy to provide a free consultation to help you decide whether you have grounds to seek a modification of your child support or custody order.