What kind of custody will work for you and your children? Pt.2

In our last post, we noted that there are five types of child custody employed in Missouri. Joint physical and legal custody has the child or children spending part of their time with each parent and grants both parents legal authority to make significant decisions regarding the children. Nevertheless, there are other variations used in a custody determination, which may be better suited to your specific situation.

Another form of custody is “joint physical custody, sole legal custody.” This form of custody has the child living with and spending time with each parent, but vests the decision-making authority solely in one parent.

A more frequently used form is “joint legal custody, sole physical custody.” In this situation, both parents have decision-making capability and work together to pick schools, decide on doctors and they type of religious upbringing the child will receive, but because their age or circumstances of one of the parents, physical custody is granted to one parent. If one parent is in the military and deployed overseas frequently, or if they travel a great deal for work, this may be the most practical custody arrangement.

More rare is “sole legal and physical custody.” This is likely only to be used today in cases where one of the parents is found “unfit” and poses a risk to the child or children. Cases involving drug dependency or substance abuse are now typical situations where this custody would be used.

Finally, there is “third-party custody,” which is even more unusual, but necessary in some cases. If both parents have been found to be unfit, where there is drug addiction or incarceration or where they pose an actual threat to the child or children, a third-party may be chosen to have legal and physical custody. Grandparents often are called to take this responsibility in these serious cases.

Custody decisions are very important and you want to discuss this issue carefully with your attorney to develop a custody arrangement and parenting plan that is truly in the best interests of your child.

Source:, “Missouri Child Custody Laws,” page accessed March 2016

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