Even in the quietest suburb of Columbia, Missouri, couples are going through divorce.
After heated arguments, endless fights, and stressful disagreements, sometimes the formulation of a divorce comes as a relief. While the decision to divorce can sometimes come almost naturally, custody decisions usually do not.
There’s no doubt about it; divorce puts stress on entire families. While the formal split is only between the parents, without fail, almost all children and immediate family members experience the effects, whether they are positive or negative.
From the moment they were born, your child has been everything to you. Your love and devotion for them is unconditional; you’d do anything for them. From pre-school pickups to prom pictures, soccer snacks to parent-teacher conferences; you want to be there for it all, which makes your impending divorce so worrisome.
You want to create the best situation possible for them, but what about what is best for you? Your goal is to provide stability and consistency, but you also want to be their parent, like normal. How do you find that middle ground where you all are happy?
As a family lawyer, I know that regardless of whether your situation is amicable or dispute-ridden, at the end of the day, you and your ex-spouse want the best for your child. It’s my goal to help you achieve that through a well thought out, customized custody agreement that suits your family’s situation.
If you’re starting custody discussions, it is likely that you have many questions, and even with the plethora of online resources at your fingertips, the answers don’t necessarily apply to your unique situation. You may have questions concerning the court process and the different types of custody. Does my child custody arrangement stay if I move across state lines? Can I share custody with my child’s grandparent or another family member? If my child’s in foster care, can I still seek custody? Do my teenagers have a say in the process? What do I do if I have joint custody, but my ex-spouse won’t let me see my child? Can custody arrangements be modified? If I get full custody will I receive child support?
Child Custody in Columbia, Missouri
We all know that it isn’t just a couple that goes through a divorce; it is the entire family. And when that family involves children, the painful divorce process doesn’t end when you move out, sign the dotted line, and divide up the assets.
You weren’t right for one another, but that doesn’t mean you stop doing what is right for your children. The partnership with your spouse continues through your children, and a child custody arrangement determines what that partnership will look like. Child custody ensures a good, safe home for your child or children. When that is at stake, you don’t want to leave anything to chance.
Joint or sole physical, joint or sole legal, or even supervised visitation—whatever the parents decide, it is imperative that it is in the best interest of their children. Speaking with an experienced Columbia child custody lawyer can be the best thing you can do when trying to sort out these details. These proceedings come stacked with questions and endless amounts of paperwork. Whether your divorce was amicable or tumultuous, these arrangements don’t come easy.
Under Missouri Law, there tends to be a predilection toward joint custody, but at Lorri Kline, LLC, we know that every case is different. Your family, and your family’s situation, is unique. A child custody arrangement should reflect your lifestyle. What works for one family won’t work for all of them. Some of the options include:
- Joint physical custody
- Sole physical custody
- Joint legal custody
- Sole legal custody
- Supervised visitation
Legal custody relates to the decisions that affect the child on a day-to-day basis, including decisions about medical care, school choices, religion and other critical issues affecting minor children. Physical custody determines where the child will reside and how much time the child will spend with the parent not in the home. Custody can be awarded to one or both parents in each of these categories.
When making decisions about child custody, the family court is supposed to act in the best interests of the child. The court can look at many factors when making its determination. These factors can include:
- The parent’s wishes about child custody and any parenting plan submitted by the parents.
- The child’s need for frequent interaction with both parents and the parents’ willingness to provide this.
- The child’s relationships with each parent, siblings and any other significant people in the child’s life.
- The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school and community.
- The likelihood that each parent will support contact between the child and the other parent.
- The physical and mental conditions of everyone involved, including whether there is a history of domestic violence.
- The desire of either parent to relocate the child.
- The wishes of the child regarding custody if he or she is of suitable age.
Physical custody determines where the children live and attend school, and how and when they spend time with the other parent.
When a parent has sole, or primary, custody, they themselves have the rights and responsibilities that come along with custody. When it is joint custody, both parents work together and communicate about major decisions like education and health.
In some cases, a judge may grant parents joint legal custody, but sole physical custody to one. This means that while the parents work together to make decisions, the child only has one home. In many cases, this includes visitation for the parent without sole custody. As you can see, you have options when it comes to custody agreements. The more you learn about them, the better decision you can make for your family. Contact my office so you can start learning the ins and outs of custody arrangements.
Boone County Child Custody Agreement Mediation
When couples come to me together, the child custody arrangements are more of a discussion. It is a discussion that many consider to be the most important during the divorce process. We evaluate the circumstances of each parent, including finances, abuse history, addictions, habits, employment, and location. Ultimately, we want to answer the question: what is best for your kids?
When divorce proceedings are the furthest from cordial, emotions are heightened and child custody arrangements turn from a discussion to a dispute. It is easy to forget that just because your ex was a bad spouse doesn’t mean they were a bad parent. Child custody arrangements are the time to set aside differences and consider the best plan of action for your child.
As a family law attorney, my experience, compassion, and levelheadedness help me facilitate and mediate family discussions and disputes so the transition can be as smooth as possible. We want to avoid children being adversely affected by contentious legal battles. Ultimately we want to obtain fair and beneficial custody and visitation orders that both sides can accept. We are often able to provide cost-efficient solutions for our clients by avoiding court during agreements and drafting custody plans that benefit the children.
Creating a Child Custody Plan
While plans are discussed during the child custody agreement process, it is important to have a set one that you and your ex-spouse plan on sticking to. This is especially important when there is joint custody involved.
The most important aspect of this is consistency. This will not only help a child adjust to the separation, but also help you as well. If you remember that you are supposed to pick them up from school on Mondays and Fridays, you will be more likely to do so than when it is sporadic each week. Consider your work schedules and other commitments to figure out a plan that is best for you, while being consistent for your child.
Some parents opt for weekly schedules, and others opt for daily or monthly. It is important to make the decision and then stick to it, so make your plan and communicate it from the get-go.
As a child custody attorney, I help with the formation of these plans during and after the agreements. Because I have worked with many families before, I have experience in knowing how some plans work and others don’t. And the sooner we have this discussion, the better.
This process is overwhelming, to say the least. Divorce is not the only event that prompts these decisions. Many grandparents find themselves seeking custody of their grandchildren. Others have just established paternity of their child, and then want to seek custody.