For parents in St. Louis who are considering a divorce, child custody can be one of the most contentious issues they will face. While parents may have disagreements about the division of property, the prospect of damage to the parent child relationship is often the primary concern of many parents. While having this most basic of human relationships managed by the court can cause anxiety, parents have the power to ensure that the child has a robust and healthy relationship with both parents.
When determining child custody, the guiding principle for Missouri courts is the ‘best interest of the child.’ This is such an important priority that the state legislature has actually codified the factors that the court should consider when making this determination.
The court recognizes the child’s interest in maintaining a strong relationship with both parents. When considering the proper custody arrangements courts will take into account whether both parents are able and willing to facilitate the child’s relationship with both parents. So if one parent demonstrates a reluctance to allow the child to have access to the other parent, this may weigh in favor of granting custody to the other parent.
In some cases the court may also consider the preference of the child as to which parent acts as custodian. This consideration may not be appropriate in all cases as not every child has the requisite maturity and capacity to demonstrate a preference. It is not meant to force the child to choose between their parents, but rather to allow the child to have a voice in the outcome of a decision that will have a significant impact on their lives.
Finally, one of the most important factors the court may consider is the wishes of the parents. If the parents are able to come to an agreement as to the appropriate parenting plan this will inform the court’s decision.
Source: Huffington Post “How To Lose Child Custody,” Jacqueline Harounian, Dec. 12,