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A St. Louis Divorce Lawyer Answers: What is a Custodial Parent?

According to the St. Louis Divorce Lawyer, The term custodial parent is used to describe the parent a minor child lives with when the parents are unmarried or separated. While there are different types of custody under state law, this term is typically used for the parent that has sole or primary physical custody over a minor child.

If you are going through a divorce or have a child with someone you are not married to, it is important to understand the legal terms and concepts surrounding child custody and support. A St. Louis Divorce Lawyer could not only advise you on these terms, but also on your rights as a parent during these important proceedings.


What is Physical Custody?

According to the Missouri Department of Social Services, as the custodial parent you are the parent your child lives with. Of course, parental rights are often more complex than that. In some cases, both parents will share parental rights relating to the physical custody of a minor child.

St. Louis divorce lawyer explains physical custody could be joint or sole. Sole physical custody means that one parent determines where the child lives. The child makes their home with that parent until a court order changes the arrangement or they reach the age of majority.

Joint custody provides both parents with physical custody of a child. In these cases, the court will generally require a parenting plan that spells out which days the child lives one parent and which days the child lives with another. The child will go back and forth while living part of most weeks at the home of either parent.


Are Awards of Physical Custody Final?

The court might refer to an order granting physical custody to one or both parents “final,” but the reality is these orders could be amended. That does not the court will alter the terms of the custody order on a whim.

Either parent has the right to seek a change to the custody arrangement. While you have the right to request a change, you are not entitled to a modification to the terms of the order. The court will only consider altering the current order if you can show there has been a material change in circumstances.

This change in circumstances cannot be minor. It must be an important change to the lives of the child or either parent that requires an alteration to the agreement. This change could be because one parent is no longer fit to have custody. It could also be because a parent without any custody rights believes they have made changes that make it worth giving them physical custody.


How does the Court Decide Which Parents is the Custodial Parent in St. Louis ?

The courts will rely on a series of factors to determine which parent should serve as the custodial parent. The court will look to the fitness of each parent as well as the home they are prepared to provide to their children. This includes considering the financial circumstances of each parent, as that is relevant to providing adequate living accommodations.

A judge will also at times consider input from the child. The judge is under no obligation to follow through with their request, assuming they have a preference for which parent they live with. In fact, the court does not have to take into account the child’s wishes at all if they lack the maturity to make the decision on their own.


Talk to a St. Louis Divorce Lawyer About Your Parental Rights

If you are facing divorce in St. Louis, custody rights for your children are probably your top priority. With the help of a St. Louis divorce lawyer, you could secure both physical and legal custody of your kids.

Do not face the court system on your own, as acting as your own attorney is risky. The J. Rench Law Firm, LLC is ready to help you pursue your rights as a parent and protect your relationship with your children. Contact us as soon as possible to get started.


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