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3 myths people often believe about custody in Missouri

On Behalf of | Apr 9, 2024 | Child Custody And Visitation

People often share wildly inaccurate information about custody issues. Those preparing for a divorce or negotiating custody issues in a breakup may have a hard time securing appropriate terms if they don’t understand Missouri laws.

Even well-intentioned people sometimes share custody myths that prevent people from asserting themselves and being the parents they want to be. The three myths below can negatively affect the involvement of one parent with their children.

Myth one: The courts always prefer the mother

Historically, wives supported the family by staying home to raise children and take care of the home. Men might therefore assume that custody laws automatically favor the mother. However, the current custody statutes in Missouri are sex-neutral. They refer to neither the sex of the parents nor their relationship with the children as father or mother. Both parents can potentially have the same amount of parenting time and the same degree of decision-making authority after they end their relationship with one another.

Myth two: Children get to pick where they live regardless of age

It is common for one parent to spend more time with the children or to maintain a stronger bond with them than the other adults in the household. The parent who devotes more to their career might naturally worry that the children could ask to live with the other parent. The courts do consider a child’s preferences once they are 12 or older. However, the child doesn’t get to select custody terms for themselves. A judge considers their wishes along with a variety of other factors when putting together a custody order.

Myth three: Custody orders are set in stone

Technically, a custody order carries the full weight of the family courts. Parents have an obligation to uphold that custody order even if they do not agree with it. Thankfully, they also have the option of changing it when it does not meet the needs of their family. Whether circumstances have changed substantially or the current arrangements don’t meet the needs of the children, parents can potentially request a custody modification. They can do this through cooperation or litigation if they do not agree with one.

People who understand the rules that apply to Missouri child custody cases may have an easier time preparing for court and negotiating with a co-parent. Learning state rules, and seeking legal guidance accordingly, can empower those worried about preserving their parental rights.