Determining child custody is one of the most emotionally challenging aspects of divorce for couples with children. As experienced St Louis child custody lawyers, we know that all US states, including Missouri, have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.
It has been put in place to prevent potential interstate kidnapping of children by “non-custodial” parents. This law ensures that court-mandated custody orders and complied with, regardless of where in the US the child resides.
To put it simply, a non-custodial parent is a parent who does not live with the children after a divorce. This parent does not have physical custody of his/her minor child, as the result of a court order.
When it comes to child custody in Missouri, two components come into play:
- Legal custody: The court decides which parent will have, or how both parents will distribute their responsibilities and make decisions related to the child’s health, education, and welfare.
- Physical custody: The court decides where and how the parents will share their time with the child while being physically present.
In Missouri, five types of custody arrangements can be made. These are:
- Joint physical and legal custody to both parents
- Joint physical custody to both parents and sole legal custody to one
- Joint legal custody to both parents and sole physical custody to one
- Physical and legal sole custody to any one parent
- Custody or visitation by third parties, like grandparents
How Child Custody Is Decided in St. Louis, Missouri
Child custody laws are typically passed at the state level. Like all states, Missouri also considers the best interest of the child when determining custody. The various factors that come into play here are:
- Parenting plans of both parents, and their wishes for their child
- The child’s own wishes (These may not necessarily reflect his/her best interests)
- The emotional needs of the child
- Relocation plans of parents
- Each parent’s willingness to encourage the child to maintain a healthy, meaningful relationship with the other parent
- Physical and mental wellbeing of both parents
- The child’s adjustment to his/her home, school, and community
- The relationship of the child with parents, siblings, and anyone else who may significantly affect his/her best interests
- History of abuse or neglect
Rights of a Non-Custodial Parent in St. Louis, Missouri
As mentioned, unlike the custodial parent, the non-custodial parent does not have primary custody of their child. Hence, the child may live with the custodial parent for many weeks, while the non-custodial parent might get a weekend or two per month with the child.
In some cases, the non-custodial parent may get only visitation rights. For example, they might be allowed to see their child only during certain times of the day or on specific days, like weekends.
While the non-custodial parent may have to live with certain limitations on their legal rights to make decisions for the child, they do have some parental rights. These include:
- Access to the child’s school and medical records
- Paying child support payments in accordance with the child’s best interest and the parent’s income
- Spending holidays with the child, entirely on in parts, depending on what both parents and the court decide in the best interest of the child
- Reporting any instance of neglect or abuse or other behaviors demonstrated by the custodial parent that could negatively affect the child
- Other rights as per the child’s custody agreement
Apart from these, the non-custodial parent may or may not have other rights, depending on the unique circumstances of their custody case and court order. Also, laws vary from state to state, which may also play a role in deciding the non-custodial parent’s legal rights.
Non-custodial parents usually have visitation rights that are determined by the court after considering factors such as:
- The basic needs and requirements of the child
- The location of both parents
- History of neglect and/or abuse by any parent
- Schedules of the child and parent
Prior visitation arrangements can affect the visitation rights for subsequent children. Visitation rights can also be modified when there is a considerable change in circumstances, like remarriage of one or both parents or the death of a parent.
It is, however, important to remember that visitation rights can also be revoked or lost. This generally happens when:
- The parent commits an express violation of the custody agreement
- The parent’s presence threatens the child’s safety and well-being, such as violent behavior towards the child
- The parent’s current lifestyle does not match the visitation schedule. For instance, if the visitation agreement mentions that the non-custodial parent may take custody of the child every weekend, but the parent relocates to another country, the visitation rights of the non-custodian parent may be modified.
Any modification to the visitation rights is determined by the court and becomes a part of the visitation order awarded by the judge. A parent may be allowed to contest their visitation rights only under special circumstances.
Non-custodial parents may not be able to make daily-life decisions for their children, but they do have certain rights. Protecting them is of paramount importance to enjoy a healthy relationship with the child. The above information should help you in this regard. If you need further legal assistance, an experienced St. Louis child custody lawyer can be a trusted ally. Their guidance can go a long way in determining whether or not you have certain additional rights that can be exercised as a parent.
Contact Our Experienced St. Louis Child Custody Lawyers Today!
Knowing your rights as a non-custodial parent is the first step towards enjoying a meaningful relationship with your child. Our team of experienced St. Louis child custody lawyers will help you in every way in this endeavor. Call us at (314) 725-4000 for a free consultation. You can also contact us via our website. We will respond to your queries and comments as soon as possible.