Changes in Missouri Visitation Laws Favor Shared Parenting

Effective at the beginning of August, new changes to mandatory child custody and visitation provisions in Missouri allow children to spend equal time with each parent after a divorce or separation, promoting shared parenting. The reform to Missouri family courts was proposed by two identical bills in the state House and Senate, with Rep. Kathryn Swan (R-Cape Girardeau) and Sen. Wayne Wallingford (R-Cape Girardeau) sponsoring them.

The new law assumes that joint custody will be awarded to both parents in divorce, unless the court determines otherwise based on specific family-related circumstances. This decision terminates any tendency toward a standardized system and, instead, allows judges to access each family situation on a case-by-case basis.

Previously, when the courts look at divorce or separation cases, a decision as to who will have primary custody is generally made, typically ruling for mothers in such situations instead of fathers. This can make it difficult for fathers to gain visitation rights and custody of their children after a divorce is finalized.

According to published research used to spearhead these legislation changes, shared custody results in positive effects of child development and child-parent relationships. Those who support the new law believe it is in a child’s best interest to have an active and consistent relationship with each parent after a marriage ends.

However, every situation is different. There are cases where shared parenting is not the best option, such as families with a history of domestic abuse and violence. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the new visitation and custody laws in Missouri, our St. Charles divorce lawyers are willing to answer all of them.

Contact Smith Law Offices, LLC today for more information about child custody and visitation.

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