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Things to Know About St. Louis Child Custody Laws



Whether you are going through a divorce, modifying a pre-existing custody arrangement or involved in another type of custody dispute, you will want to educate yourself on St. Louis child custody laws. This article will explain the types of child custody, St. Louis custody courts and other aspects of St. Louis child custody laws.

If you have specific questions regarding your child custody case, you should reach out to a St. Louis child custody lawyer. A child custody lawyer can assess your case and provide you with legal guidance throughout the course of your matter. Whether you are disputing child custody in Chesterfield, Midtown, Hamilton Heights or another part of St. Louis city or St. Louis County, Attorneys.com can connect you with a custody lawyer near you. Just fill out the form on this site, or call 1-877-913-7222. After answering a few questions, Attorneys.com will provide you with the contact information for a St. Louis child custody attorney. The lawyer will contact you within two business days, or you can contact him at your own convenience.

Types of Custody under St. Louis Child Custody Laws

According to St. Louis child custody laws, the court may award one parent or both parents custody of the minor child. If the court awards both parents custody, it is known as joint custody. If only one parent receives custody, it is known as sole custody.

In general, under St. Louis child custody laws, there are two types of custody that a court can award one or both parents.

The first type of custody is known as legal custody. Legal custody refers to the parent who has the right to make important decisions for the child regarding his upbringing. This includes healthcare and education decisions. Usually, St. Louis courts will try to award joint legal custody, so both parents can have a say in the upbringing of the child.

The other type of custody is physical custody. Physical custody determines whom the child lives with. One or both parents may be awarded physical custody. If only one parent is awarded physical custody, that parent is known as the custodial parent. The other parent is referred to as the non-custodial parent.

Usually, the non-custodial parent will receive visitation rights. The court will also order the parent to pay child support to the custodial parent.

St. Louis Child Custody Laws Regarding Mediation

The St. Louis custody courts highly encourage the parents in the custody matter to come up with a parenting plan on their own. A parenting plan details who has custody of the child, visitation rights and child support payments.

To help facilitate this process, St. Louis courts have established a mediation program. Mediation is a closed-door, confidential meeting between both parents. It is overseen by a third-party, impartial mediator. At mediation, parents discuss the parenting plan and attempt to civilly agree on the plan's specifics on their own.

In St. Louis County, parents involved in a child custody dispute must attend a Parent Education Class. This class focuses on facilitating cooperation between the parents in an effort to reduce potential trauma for children. It is intended as a precursor to mediation.

A judge must review any parenting plan created during mediation. If given the judge's approval, the plan is ordered into effect.

If parents cannot come up with a plan during mediation or decide to forego mediation, they will have to go to trial to resolve their child custody issues. If you end up going to trial to resolve your child custody issues, you should contact a St. Louis custody attorney.

St. Louis Child Custody Courts

In Missouri, circuit courts hear child custody cases. Each county has its own circuit court.

St. Louis is unique in that the city proper and St. Louis County have two separate circuit courts. These courts are:

If you are unsure of which court has jurisdiction over your case, talk to a St. Louis custody lawyer.

St. Louis Child Custody Laws and Divorce

In St. Louis, state divorce laws dictate that couples who share custody of minor children must create a parenting plan during the course of their divorce.

If the parents cannot come up with a plan on their own, the judge may decide who should have custody of the child. When making this determination, the judge will consider what is in the best interests of the child. He may also consider:

  • The wishes of the parents
  • The child's need to have a relationship with both parents, and each parent's willingness to make that possible
  • The interrelationship the child has with parents, siblings and others who may affect the child's best interest
  • Which parent is more likely to allow the child to have contact with the other parent
  • The child's adjustment to home, school and community
  • The mental and physical health of the child and the parents
  • The intention of either parent to relocate
  • Whether the child is home-schooled
  • The wishes of the child