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New Missouri custody law encourages equal time for both parents

Until recently, Missouri had very similar laws to most of the country when it came to court-driven child custody decisions. Judges often awarded significant periods of time with the children to each parent, but it was not always equal time. However, the new "shared parenting" law, which went into effect at the end of August, may change this.

"Shared parenting" in Missouri

With shared parenting, when parents cannot work out a custody agreement themselves and cases make it to court, judges are encouraged to consider equal custody time for the two parents. While the new law does not mandate a 50/50 split, it does explicitly prohibit judges from making custody decisions based on the gender of the parent or the age of the children.

In the past, fathers were often granted every other weekend plus one weekday to spend with their children. However, several Missouri residents protested this, alleging that the system was biased against fathers.

Missouri is now the fourth state to pass a law that grants or encourages equal parenting time to each parent; Utah, Arizona and Minnesota all have similar laws. Recent research by the National Parents Organization suggests that it is in the best interests of the children for both parents to be actively involved in their lives, if possible.

Should the courts determine your custody arrangement?

Often, the best outcome for the children is achieved by parents working out an agreement, not an order by a judge. If you are embarking on child custody proceedings, consider negotiating and settling on an arrangement prior to going to court. This keeps you and your child's other parent in control of the final decision and ultimately achieves a positive result for everyone involved.

At The Zolman Law Firm, we have over 50 years of combined experience and can guide your family through difficult child custody decisions. We focus on amicable and cost-effective divorce and custody proceedings whenever possible. However, our primary goal is to help you and your family achieve the best outcome possible, and when that requires zealous representation, rest assured that The Zolman Law Firm is ready, willing and able to do everything possible to achieve that result.

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