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

For parents in Missouri, one of the most important features of their divorce settlement is their eventual custody arrangement with their former spouse. This part of their divorce settlement will control the time they spend with their child or children.

Custody broadly encompasses many aspects of your relationship with your children and your former spouse, and in Missouri, there are five potential forms of custody. The types of custody include:

  • “Joint physical and legal custody (both parents)
  • Joint physical custody (both parents), sole legal custody (one parent)
  • Joint legal custody (both parents), sole physical custody (one parent)
  • Sole legal and physical custody (one parent)
  • Third-party custody”

To understand what these types custody entail, it helps to understand the terms used by the Missouri legislature when drafting the statutes. Physical custody is perhaps the most obvious and intuitive custody. It means the person with whom the child is physically present. This is what most people think of when they speak of equal or shared custody.

This is just one aspect of “custody,” however, as there is more to custody than simply where the child will sleep at night. The second element of this custody is legal custody, which is often referred to as the decision-making authority that parents have over a child.

When you are married, much of this element of your relationship may never be discussed, as much is just assumed. You may not need to discuss which school the child will attend, where they will go to the doctor, where the go to church, or who make decisions regarding any of these items. A divorce changes that.

Joint physical and legal custody may be ideal for the children if both parents recognize the importance of cooperation and are willing to interact with their former spouse on a regular and ongoing basis.

Next post, we will discuss more aspects of the types of custody available.

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

Related Posts