Missouri lawmakers take steps to promote equal parenting time in custody decisions

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in child custody on Friday, March 4, 2016.

In divorce cases involving minor-aged children, decisions must be made with regard to matters involving child custody and visitation. In recent decades, the outcomes of numerous studies and research indicate that children of divorce benefit the most when they are allowed equal access to and time with each parent. However, despite a wealth of information pointing to the positive effects of awarding parents joint physical custody, many family law courts and judges throughout the country continue to favor primary custody arrangements.

According to proponents of shared or joint custody arrangements, arrangements which provide one parent primary physical custody automatically set an adversarial tone for a future co-parenting relationship by deeming one parent the clear victor and pitting parents against one another. Additionally, such arrangements fail to consider the possible negative effects on a child’s psyche and self-esteem when he or she is deprived of the opportunities to form close and loving bonds with and benefit from the support of both parents.

Recently, “companion House and Senate Bills, HB 2055, and SB 964,” were introduced by Missouri lawmakers with an aim to add language to existing state child custody laws which would redefine joint custody as equating to “approximate and reasonably equal time” with a child. Currently, family law judges within the state may award parents joint custody, however, in its current context; the definition of joint is broad and often results in one parent being relegated to the equivalent of a weekend babysitter for their own child.

For parents who are facing a divorce and who have questions and concerns about child custody issues, an attorney can provide answers and advice on how to move forward. Every child deserves the right to have the love, time and support of both parents and joint custody arrangements that provide each parent with equal parenting time are often the best solution for achieving these goals.

Source: Ozarks First, “Missouri Considers Changes to Shared Custody Orders,” Dana Thayer, Feb. 9, 2016

KCUR.org, “Missouri Child Custody Bill Promotes Equal Sharing,” Steve Bell, Feb. 9, 2016

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