If you are about to divorce in Missouri and have minor children, one of the legal issues you and your ex-spouse will need to work out is child custody. While many couples agree on custody without input from the courts, appearing before a judge is sometimes necessary when you can’t agree.
Four types of child custody
The four basic types of child custody are legal custody, physical custody, sole custody and joint custody. Each has slightly different legal aspects, and there are variations within each category.
Legal custody means that you have the right to make decisions regarding your child’s education, health care and religion without consulting the other parent. Many times, the court will award legal custody to both parents, making it a form of joint custody.
Physical custody means the child lives with one parent while the other has visitation rights. Many arrangements are now 50/50 physical custody.
Sole custody is where only one parent has rights over the child with the other receiving visitation. This form is rarely used these days unless one parent is deemed unfit. Joint custody is where both parents have a say in the physical and legal custody of their children.
Understand the language used in your negotiations
If your divorce negotiations are rocky and you are having trouble difficulty agreeing, it’s in your best interest to understand the language in all divorce documents. A misunderstanding can lead to a court battle with a judge deciding on child custody issues, which may result in both sides being unhappy.
Divorcing couples should only go to court for child custody when there is no chance of negotiation. The purpose of coming to an agreement with your ex-spouse over child custody is to ensure the safety, welfare and happiness of all your children.