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Child custody and the child's best interest

37128336_S.jpgWhen Missouri parents decide to divorce, there are a number of factors that need to be considered. In addition to who gets what and who is responsible for what, decisions regarding the care and upbringing of the child or children must be considered. Child custody is an essential part of the equation.

In many instances, the parents are able to work out custody arrangements. An agreement is reached and becomes a part of the divorce decree if the parents are married. In other instances, the parents are unable to reach an agreement, and the courts must decide the issues. When this happens, the judge must make a final determination based upon what he or she believes to be in the best interest of the child.

While one parent may be granted physical custody, many times, both parents are granted joint legal custody. Joint legal custody allows both parents to make decisions regarding the child's health, education, religion and more. In addition to allowing both parents to have input in the child's upbringing, joint legal custody allows both parents to seek medical treatment for the child and to have access to the child's medical and educational records.

Physical custody refers to which parent the child will live with. In some cases, one parent retains physical custody while the other has stated visitation rights. In other cases, the parents share joint physical custody. When this occurs, the child spends time equally with both parents.

The type of child custody granted to Missouri parents depends upon what is considered to be in the best interest of the child. In a perfect situation, the parents will be able to reach an agreement and work together throughout the child's life. In reality, each parent will want to discuss his or her options and concerns with experienced legal counsel prior to making any final decision.

Source: family.findlaw.com, "Child Custody Basics", Accessed on Dec. 26, 2017

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