Family law judges in Missouri and around the country make child custody and visitation rulings based on what they consider to be in the best interests of the children involved. However, their decisions may be revisited when situations change. The courts generally act quickly when children have been placed in situations that have become dangerous due to substance abuse problems or episodes of domestic violence in the household. Child custody arrangements may also be modified when parents die, move to another part of the country or routinely ignore visitation schedules.
When a custodial parent passes away, custody will usually be awarded to the noncustodial parent. However, custody may be awarded to a third party if the surviving parent lives far away or has a grueling work schedule. Family law judges could also award custody to a third party in these situations at the request of the children involved. Custodial parents who relocate are often able to retain custody, but judges may scrutinize their motivation for moving and the impact that the move will have on visitation schedules before making these decisions.
A great many child custody modification disputes occur when parenting plans are not working out and children suffer as a result. When faced with hostile or belligerent parents, judges may assess the practicality of the arrangements currently in place and the impact they are having on the children involved.
Experienced family law attorneys may seek to avoid the possibility of child custody disputes by urging divorcing parents to consider alternatives to court. Divorce negotiations are adversarial by nature and the parties involved often harbor deep resentment and animosity toward one another. Legal counsel may suggest mediation in divorce cases when young children are involved.