St. Louis Child Custody Lawyers
Serving St. Charles & st. Louis County for 50+ Years
Few legal disputes are as emotionally charged as child custody matters. At Cavanagh & Associates, we act in the best interests of our clients and their children. Our St. Louis child custody lawyer will guide you through the custody process, so you know what to expect.
When faced with a difficult family law matter, you can put your trust in Cavanagh & Associates - Attorney Jack Cavanagh has more than 50 years of legal experience handling a wide range of family law cases. Attorney Cavanagh is a member of several prestigious and professional associations including The Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, St. Louis County Bar Association, and The Missouri bar.
Resolving conflict regarding the custody of your children, please contact our office today at (314) 309-2799.
How Do the Courts Decide on Child Custody?
Across the state of Missouri, as in other states, all courts ascribe to the legal principle of “the best interests of the child.” These are the determining factors that play a role in deciding custody. The best possible arrangement is one where the child can continue maintaining a close relationship and frequent contact with both parents.
Here are other important factors:
- The child’s safety and emotional needs
- The child’s education and medical needs
- The need to maintain stability and continuity in the child’s life
- How well each parent can agree on co-parenting their child
- The need to maintain relationships with siblings, grandparents, and other close family members
- If one or the other parent has problems with drug or alcohol abuse
- If one or the other parent has been violent, or caused physical or emotional harm
The child’s wishes will also be a consideration, if the child is mature enough to reasonably make decisions. Some of the factors considered include the wishes of the parents, child, the physical and mental well-being of both parents, relocation plans, and other factors. Issues related to child custody or support may be addressed during a divorce, paternity case, or separate child custody action.
Source: Mo. Rev. Stat. § 452.375.4.
Is Missouri a Mother State?
The state of Missouri will not give preference to a parent because of their gender. Both parents have equivalent rights when it comes to decisions regarding custody or support. Just like mothers, a father can petition for both child custody and child support. The best interests of the child will always be the most important factor when a judge decides the case. One thing to keep in mind, is that a mother may have an advantage in a custody case, if the child is an infant and needs her for feeding and nurturing.
What Rights Does a Father Have For Custody in Missouri?
By state law, any father that is unwed possesses no parental rights unless paternity is established. Paternity may be established by completing an affidavit of paternity anytime between the birth of the child up until the child turns 18. However, an affidavit does not allow for custody or visitation rights. To obtain these rights, a paternity suit must be filed.
Physical & Legal Custody
The statutes and past precedents of Missouri courts do not differentiate between married, formerly married, and unmarried parents. There are two types of child custody issues decided by the courts: Physical custody and legal custody.
A variety of custody arrangements may be ordered by the court, including:
- Joint physical and legal custody
- Joint physical custody to both parents, with one having sole legal custody
- Joint legal custody, with one parent having sole physical custody
- Sole legal and physical custody to one parent
- Custody or visitation given to another party, such as grandparents
Missouri law shows a clear preference for joint physical custody and joint legal custody. Unless there is a compelling reason for the court to order sole physical or legal custody to one parent, you should expect that you will receive joint legal and physical custody of your children. If a compelling reason exists for awarding sole custody, consult with a St. Louis attorney. Our St. Louis child custody lawyers can evaluate your situation and provide legal advice that is tailored to your specific circumstances.
Contact our office today at (314) 309-2799 to discuss your situation with our child custody attorney.
“I would recommend Mr. Cavanagh as well as use him again in the future.”- Former Client
“Truth will always prevail.”- Mr. Callaway
“Great Team! Highly Recommended.”- Donald Salisbury