Shared custody bill signed by Missouri Governor

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signed House Bill 1550 into law, which will help promote more shared custody and visitation agreements between divorcing parents. The goal of the law is to ensure that fathers are not cut out of the parenting process by unfair and out-of-date custody or visitation agreements.

Research has shown that children of divorce adapt better when both parents are involved in their lives and this law is designed to help judges come to custody determinations that maximize the time the children spend with each parent.

In an effort to improve the transparency of the process, the law now will require a judge to explain why shared parenting was not granted in a case. This seems like a straightforward suggestion and it should help prevent unexamined biases of a judge from influencing a custody award.

It also will make challenging a custody determination easier, as the judge will have to explain in detailed written findings why they came to the decision that joint or shared custody should not be granted in a case.

Sole custody can promote acrimony between parents, with the parent who is denied feeling bitter and angry. This can lead to contentious court battles. With this new law, parents will know going in that shared parenting will be the “starting point,” and they should expect that their parenting plan will need to incorporate that goal.

Parents should recognize that a custody and visitation agreement that minimizes conflict and disagreements between parents will ultimately be in the best interests of their child.

Source:, “MO Gov. Nixon signs bill to help crime victims, address violence in colleges,” Zach Robinson, July 1, 2016

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