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Child Custody
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Missouri Child Custody

If you're getting divorced and have minor children, issues related to child custody, child support and visitation will be decided by the Missouri Circuit Court judge hearing your divorce case. Parents of a minor child who were not married and are not a couple will have to take legal action to settle custody, support and visitation issues. Each parent should be represented by a child custody attorney, who can help you understand your rights and responsibilities as a parent, and help negotiate a parenting agreement.

Basics of Child Custody

The legal system realizes that it's in the best interests of all family members if parents can come to a mutually agreeable decision on issues related to child custody, child support and visitation.

If parents cannot come to an agreement, then a judge will make these decisions based on the best interests of the child.

Missouri law recognizes two types of child custody: Physical custody (where a child lives) and legal custody (which parent makes major life decisions on the child's behalf).

Under state law, each of these types of custody may be sole or joint. In most cases, the courts prefer to have parents share joint custody unless joint custody would be harmful to the child. If shared custody is not appropriate, by Missouri law the court must give equal consideration to both the mother and father when deciding which parent will have physical custody. If one parent has sole physical custody, the other parent will typically be awarded visitation rights.


If a child has been born to unmarried parents, then legal paternity must be established before child support is awarded. In Missouri, there are a couple of ways to establish paternity of a child:

  • Sign an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity
  • Undergo voluntary or court-ordered genetic testing

Child Support

Child support in Missouri is calculated based on the combined income of the parents and the financial needs of the child. The court is allowed to deviate from the child support guidelines if the calculation is inappropriate in a particular case.

Support can also be adjusted based on a change in circumstances. These would include:

  • A significant change in one parent's income
  • A change in which parent the child spends more time with
  • A change in the child's financial needs (such as extraordinary medical or educational expenses)

Find & Hire Local Missouri Child Custody Attorneys

A local child custody lawyer can guide you through the process of establishing paternity, reaching a child custody agreement, creating a visitation schedule and obtaining a child support order. Your attorney can also help you if any these agreements need to be modified or enforced.

Need help locating child custody lawyers in your area? Let help you. Whether you live in Kansas City, St. Louis, Springfield or elsewhere in Missouri, our free service can quickly connect you with child custody lawyers in your area. Call us at 877-913-7222 or fill out the form on this page.