Springfield, MO Child Custody Lawyers
Devising Appropriate Arrangements for Childcare & Upbringing
Child custody can be the most contentious issue in a divorce, particularly between spouses who harbor mistrust about how each will behave in a custody arrangement. At Lowther Johnson, Attorneys at Law, LLC, our knowledgeable child custody attorneys in Springfield have more than 40 years of experience representing parents in child custody matters. We can help you pursue a workable parenting plan that preserves and enhances your relationship with your children now and for years to come.
Understanding Missouri Child Custody Laws
Missouri courts generally award custody by considering what would suit the best interests of the child, according to factors such as the child’s family needs, relationships with family members, and adjustment to his or her home and community. Custody has two aspects: physical and legal. Physical custody determines which parent the child lives with most of the time. Legal custody means the right to make decisions about the child’s upbringing, such as education, healthcare, religion, and social activities.
Both types of custody may be sole or joint, as shown by the following:
- Joint physical and legal custody —This option is suitable for parents who cooperate well and are each able to maintain a residence suitable for the children. Each parent must also have schedules flexible enough so they can be the primary caregiver for days at a time.
- Joint physical custody with sole legal custody — This type of custody works well if both parents can act as primary caregivers and maintain residences suitable for the child, but one parent is shown to be better able to make sound decisions about the child’s health, education, and welfare.
- Joint legal custody with sole physical custody — Even when both parents are capable of making decisions about the child’s upbringing, one parent’s career demands or lack of financial resources may prevent that parent from acting as a primary caregiver. In that situation, the noncustodial parent is allowed frequent visitation.
- Sole legal and physical custody for one parent, with visitation — This arrangement applies where one parent is not suited to being a caregiver, not sufficiently engaged in the child’s life, or not capable of making mature, informed decisions for the child’s health and welfare. A court may designate one parent as the child’s primary caregiver and decision-making authority while allowing the other parent visitation time according to a schedule.
- Sole legal and physical custody to one parent, restricted visitation — In some cases, time alone with one parent might be detrimental to the child given the parent’s drug or alcohol use or a history of abusive behavior. A court may require visits to be supervised by a third party until it is clear that the parent is not a threat to the child’s well-being.
Through negotiation, mediation or litigation if necessary, we will represent you assertively in securing a fair and suitable custody arrangement.
Intuitive Attorneys Design Parenting Plans Tailored to Your Family
In all child custody cases, Missouri law requires a written parenting plan that sets out a custody and visitation schedule and includes information about such child-rearing concerns as education, religious indoctrination, extracurricular activities, healthcare and daycare, and sharing of the associated costs. A parenting plan should also address communication procedures between the parents and create a method for resolving disputes that may arise.
Parents can agree on a plan and submit it together to the court for approval. If they don’t agree, each must submit their own proposed plan, in which case the court will either adopt one or a combination of both. As your counsel, our task is to listen carefully to your concerns and help you devise a parenting plan well-suited to your child’s needs as well as your lifestyle, priorities, and values.
Helping You Manage the Modification of Child Custody & Visitation Orders
When there has been a significant change in your child’s needs, your financial situation, or other circumstance, a court may permit a modification of child custody and/or visitation if it is found to be in the child’s best interest. We can help you obtain a modification by negotiating an updated agreement with the other parent or by filing a motion with the court along with appropriate evidence of need.
Get Reliable Assistance with Child Custody Issues
At Lowther Johnson, Attorneys at Law, LLC, we help parents throughout southwestern Missouri devise tailored parenting plans for child custody arrangements. Our experienced Springfield child custody lawyers protect your parental rights and address your concerns for your children’s welfare.