When Can a Parent Modify a Child Custody Order in Missouri?

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Summer Masterson-Goethals

Summer Masterson-Goethals
Consumer and family lawyer, former legal aid attorney and Missouri Bar Leadership Academy member, Springfield Business Journal 40 under 40 Honoree.

Summer Masterson | Springfield Missouri Attorney

How Do I Modify a Child Custody Order in Missouri?

Parents may fight over who will have custody of a child or children due to a variety of reasons. The parents may decide to have an informal joint custody arrangement regarding raising children.

Sometimes, the parents may have divorced, and one parent is prevented from being involved in the child’s life. In this situation, a parent may petition the court and request a parenting plan modification.

Only a court can modify an existing custody order, and if you’re a parent in such a position, consider hiring experienced child custody lawyers in Missouri who will guide you on how to go about the child custody agreement and modification and represent you in court.

When to Seek Modification of a Child Custody Order in Missouri

Missouri courts enable parents to petition for modification of an existing order on custody if the noncustodial parent can demonstrate that circumstances have changed since the initial order was made.

Courts are more likely to modify child custody arrangements if they are in the child’s best interests. The orders for physical custody and related child support orders are more likely to be changed for the child’s best interest. Therefore, you need to prove that the original court order no longer meets the child’s best interests under the current circumstances.

Examples of factors that may lead to custody modification include:

  • Substance abuse by the parent with custody
  • Domestic violence
  • Doubts about the moral fitness of the person nursing the child
  • A desire to create a more stable environment for the child
  • As the child grows, the quantity of parental time may change

For instance, modification requests may be granted if a mother with bi-weekly visitation schedules notices the child’s development is regressing. Yet, the father is not taking measures to care for the child properly. With these grounds, if a Missouri parent seek an adjustment in the child custody agreement, the court will consider doing so.

Cases in Which Child Custody in Missouri Orders are Changed

The court can change the child custody orders in the following circumstances:

Physical Relocation

In the event of either physical relocation or a substantial change in circumstances, the court will determine the child’s best interests by considering relevant factors. The court will take note of factors such as the reasons for the change and how it may affect the child. Only a judge can decide if the child will relocate or not, and he or she can also alter the child custody arrangements in this case.

If the Custodial Parent Fails to Follow the Rules

If one parent fails to follow a child custody order, the other parent will be given the authority to change the custody order. Such changes may include modifying custody or changing visitation rights. The custodial parent will have the authority to determine the best possible parenting plan and provide appropriate parenting time for the better development of the child.

The Child Is in Danger

If the custodian parent is not protecting the child and endangers their safety, the court may also change custody to ensure the child’s safety. The parent seeking child custody can talk to an experienced family law attorney to seek legal advice on how to proceed.

Domestic Violence Cases

In domestic violence cases, a request may be submitted to modify the child support order by protecting the child from further abuse. You can report to a family law firm if you notice certain injuries or if the young child tells you they are being abused.

A Parent’s Situation Has Changed

In some cases, the situation of a parent may change in such a way that it may affect the child’s well-being and development. For instance, the court will make a custody modification for domestic violence in the home. Also, changes in the mental and physical health of the custodian parent may pressure the non-custodial parent to seek a child custody modification for the child’s best interests.

In any case, you should consider consulting with a child custody lawyer to help you navigate through a custody case.

At What Age Can a Child Make Custody Decision in Missouri?

According to Missouri law, a child ought to wait until 18 to choose which parent they wish to live with. In such circumstances, the judge would ascertain the factors that led the child to prefer living with one parent over the other.

A child’s wishes are not the only element incorporated in a custody determination, as a judge will also consider the child’s best interests and other custody criteria, as indicated below

Steps Taken to Modify Child Custody Arrangements

Missouri courts have a procedure that is to be followed if one is seeking modification of child custody. The steps include the following:

  • A motion for a modification should be submitted.

  • A summons is delivered to the co-parent.

  • Participation in a parent education program is often required (some local courts demand this to change a child custody arrangement). The course covers cooperative parenting, conflict resolution, and prioritizing your child’s interests.

  • There may be attempts to mediate the custody issues.

  • The pre-trial and trial hearing takes place.

  • The judge’s ruling will be announced after the trial.

Do I Need Help From Child Custody Lawyers?

Child custody is a delicate topic, and it requires careful planning to ensure that the child’s best interest is met. In many cases, you might need tips from child custody lawyers to increase your chances of winning.

Your lawyer will advise you on which factors are essential to consider when making a child custody decision. They will also help you understand your options to make an informed decision. These include changing custody, making arrangements for joint parenting, or requesting that the custodian parent be removed from the home.

Decide on the style of parenting that is best for your child. For instance, a joint parenting arrangement may be preferred by both parents. Alternatively, one parent may prefer exclusive custody while the other party desires frequent visits with their child. Whatever you decide, hiring a child custody lawyer is more likely to benefit you than going it alone

Contact a Family Law Team Today

With a team of experienced family & divorce lawyers, Masterson Law can help you file divorce or child custody cases in Missouri. Let us help you understand the different scenarios and the implications of each custody alternative. We can guide you through the process to ensure that your child’s needs are met. Contact us today to book your appointment with us.