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Child Custody in Missouri: Do Mothers Always Get the Kids?

Posted by Bruce Galloway | Oct 23, 2023 | 0 Comments

Child custody disputes are a common and emotionally charged aspect of dissolving a marriage. Many parents wonder if mothers always get custody of their children.

In the state of Missouri, custody decisions are guided by statutes which ensure the child's best interests are the top priority.

parents with child

Missouri's Child Custody Laws and Statistics

Child custody laws in Missouri are designed to protect the best interests of the child involved in a divorce or separation. The guiding principle is that the child's well-being should be the top priority in determining custody arrangements.

Here's a closer look at Missouri's child custody laws and the statistical trends in recent years:

  • The Best Interests Standard: In Missouri, the "best interests of the child" standard serves as the foundation for child custody decisions. This means that the court's primary concern is the child's welfare and well-being, rather than favoring one parent over the other.

  • In August, 2023, the Missouri statutes were changed to clearly state that an evenly divided, 50/50 custody schedule is presumed to be in the child's best interests. That means that any other kind of parenting plan, like an every other weekend schedule, will not be considered unless a parent proves to the court that a 50/50 plan hurts the child's best interests. 

  • Types of Custody: Custody in Missouri can take two primary forms - joint (shared) custody and sole (exclusive) custody. Joint custody is typically favored when it's in the child's best interests, as it encourages both parents to have an active and ongoing role in their child's life. However, sole custody may be awarded in cases where it is deemed necessary to protect the child's well-being. Usually, this means that domestic violence, or a lack of shared values (think drug addiction), or unproductive communication between parents make jointly made parenting decisions unlikely.

  • Gender-Neutral Approach: It's important to note that Missouri law does not inherently favor mothers over fathers when determining custody. The court takes into account various factors to assess each parent's ability to provide a safe, stable, and nurturing environment for the child. Therefore, the outcome is not predetermined by gender but by the individual circumstances of each case.

  • Statistics: Historically, mothers were more frequently awarded custody in Missouri and across the United States. However, this trend has shifted in recent years. More fathers are being awarded custody or joint custody, reflecting a growing recognition of the importance of both parents in a child's life. The courts now focus on ensuring a child's access to both parents, provided it is in their best interests.
Dad brushing teeth with child

How to Secure Custody During Divorce: Are They Guaranteed?

As parents navigate the complex and often emotionally charged process of divorce, child custody is a critical issue that must be addressed. One common question that arises is whether mothers are guaranteed custody during divorce proceedings.

The answer is no; custody is not guaranteed to either parent, and the final decision depends on a variety of factors.

  • Court Proceedings: Child custody is typically determined during divorce or separation proceedings. The court evaluates each case individually, taking into account a range of factors to reach a decision that prioritizes the child's well-being.

  • Factors Considered: When making custody decisions, Missouri courts consider a wide range of factors. These may include the child's age, the nature of their relationship with each parent, each parent's fitness to provide a stable and nurturing environment, the child's school and community ties, and the parents' willingness to facilitate a healthy relationship between the child and the other parent.

  • Custody Agreement: In some cases, parents are able to reach a custody agreement through mediation or negotiation, which the court will usually approve if it is determined to be in the child's best interests. This can be an amicable and less contentious way to establish custody arrangements, but it requires cooperation from both parents.

  • Legal Representation: Given the complexities of child custody laws and the emotional nature of divorce proceedings, it is crucial to have legal representation from experienced family law attorneys, such as those at Bruce Galloway Law Firm. Attorneys can help you navigate the legal system, gather evidence to support your case, and ensure that your rights as a parent are protected throughout the process.

  • Appealing Custody Decisions: If you believe that the court's custody decision is not in the best interests of your child, you have the right to appeal. It's important to work closely with an experienced attorney to guide you through the appeals process and present a strong case in court.

Child custody decisions in Missouri are guided by the "best interests of the child" standard, with a focus on the well-being and welfare of the child involved.

dad with 3 kids

Custody is not guaranteed to mothers, as the court assesses each case individually, considering a wide range of factors. In today's world, fathers have equal opportunities to secure custody, and the legal system strives to ensure that both parents remain active and involved in their child's life, provided it is in the child's best interests.

Remember, the outcome of child custody cases is influenced by the specifics of each case, and the focus is on the child's best interests, rather than gender-based assumptions.

It's essential for parents to understand Missouri's custody laws and work with experienced family law attorneys like those at Bruce Galloway Law Firm to secure a custody arrangement that prioritizes the child's well-being.

About the Author

Bruce Galloway

Bruce Galloway is a trial and appellate attorney who practices family law and personal injury on behalf of victims of family violence, including domestic violence, sexual abuse, and child abuse and neglect. He works on other family law cases such as divorce and custody matters. His heroes are gr...


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