Child custody is among the most important issues a couple will deal with when terminating their relationship. The uncertainty of the outcome can be very trying. Unfortunately, the outcome of the process is not easy to determine in advance, because judges have a significant amount of discretion in making a decision.
Under Missouri law, judges are charged with making custody determinations in accordance with the best interests of the child. All relevant factors are supposed to be considered when determining what is in the best interests of a child, and state statute identifies a number of them specifically.
For parents, it is important to understand that while child custody determination is all about the child’s interests, these interests are bound up with the child’s relationship to both parents, and to the parents’ relationship with one another. The ability of the father and mother to cooperate with the court’s decision, continuing abuse or allegations of abuse, the mental and physical health of each parent, the financial situation of each parent–these are all factors that courts consider.
For father, in particular, having an advocate throughout the child custody process can be helpful in ensuring that the information about the father which the court is taking into consideration is accurate. This is especially important in cases where there are allegations of abuse or other behavior that would cause a court to cast a disapproving eye upon a child’s father. When such things do come up, having an experienced advocate at one’s side is important to protect one’s parental rights.