If you are facing a child custody dispute for the first time, you might be wondering whether Missouri is considered to be a “mother state” or a “father state.” The reality is that Missouri law is not designed to favor either the mother or the father. Instead, the law is designed to give both parents an opportunity to have a relationship with their minor child with the help of a Child Custody Lawyer.
If you are dealing with a child custody dispute, A Child custody Lawyer could answer any questions you might have about the custody process. Questions of child custody are determined based on issues other than what the mother or father individually desires. The team at the J. Rench Law Firm, LLC could provide you with clear guidance on your best options in custody cases.
What is a “Mother State?”
The concept of a “mother state” or a “father state” describes a court system that gives one parent an advantage over another when it comes to child custody decisions. The idea is that in a mother state, the law inherently proves mothers with preferential treatment over fathers. Alternatively, a father state would be a jurisdiction where the court system has an inherent bias towards the father in child custody decisions.
While there was a time when certain states intentionally favored the mother in child custody decisions, this approach has largely fallen by the wayside. It is true that there are some judges that are more likely than others to side with a mother versus a father in these cases, but that is not the same as bias by statute.
Is Missouri a Mother or Father State?
Missouri is not considered a mother or father state, as the laws were not written to favor one parent over the other. Instead, Missouri is what is known as a 50-50 state. That means that the courts are required to give both parents an even chance at custody. Courts also typically prefer to award joint custody to both parents whenever possible.
While state law prefers a joint custody arrangement, that does not mean every parent will be granted to custody rights over their children. This is because the court could determine it is best for a child not to have direct or unsupervised contact with a parent for a variety of reasons.
According to the law, the court can award custody in a number of ways. A judge could award joint physical and legal custody, which means parents not only split time caring for the child but also that must make joint decisions about the health and wellbeing of the child.
Alternatively, the court could award sole custody to either parent. This could include sole physical custody, sole legal custody, or a combination of the two. Because no parent has an inherent advantage, sole custody could be awarded to either the mother or the father depending on the circumstances.
How Does Missouri Determine Child Custody
According to Missouri law, a judge overseeing a child custody case must make the decision based on the best interest of the minor child. This often means the court will not follow the exact wishes of either the mother or the father. Instead, the best interests of the child could be a compromise between their two positions.
Missouri law determines child custody using the “best interest of the child” standard. As the name implies, the court looks specifically at what is best for a child outside of any other external factor. There are several factors that go into determining what is best for a child in this context. Some examples include:
- The wishes of each parent
- The wishes of an older child
- The mental health of all parties
- The fitness of each parent
- Any history of abuse
Talk to an Attorney About Child Custody Disputes in Missouri
If you are involved in a child custody dispute, you have the right to hire legal counsel. Your attorney could provide you with a path to protect your rights related to your minor child. Reach out to the J. Rench Law Firm, LLC right away to learn more.
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