New law in Missouri aimed at improving shared parenting

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in child custody on Friday, September 9, 2016.

For years now, there have been studies and surveys showing that children often benefit when they have frequent, consistent contact with two parents. These numbers have sparked many states to adopt new laws that aim at leveling the playing field when it comes to establishing child custody and shared parenting.

Today, Missouri is among those states. Recently, a new law was passed that made important changes to custody and visitation guidelines.

Broadly speaking, the changes stem from some specific language that was altered in order to equalize parenting time for each parent. More specific information on the law changes can be found in articles like this one in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but some of these changes include:

  • Prohibiting judges from taking gender of parents into consideration
  • Favoring arrangements that maximize parenting time, instead of awarding “significant time,” which is more vague
  • Disclosing reasons why shared parenting arrangements were not ordered, if applicable
  • Considering each case on an individual basis rather than relying on a so-called standard custody plan

It must be noted that these changes will only be relevant when they are in the best interests of the child. Courts will still have the power to reduce parenting time and visitation in cases where a child does not benefit from having more time with a particular parent.

What these changes mean for you if you are navigating the family courts to secure custody and visitation plans is that there should not be one parent who is automatically at a disadvantage heading into a custody hearing. Too often, one parent (often the mother) is presumed to be the primary caregiver, leaving the other parent (often the father) to receive less parenting time or having to fight harder for shared parenting.

Every custody case has the potential to be difficult, emotional and frustrating. Add in the complications that can come with new laws and transitions and the situation can be even more challenging. In order to prepare for these cases and protect your interests and rights as a parent, it can be critical that you consult a family law attorney to help you navigate this complex system.

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