Determining a child custody arrangement that fits your family’s needs can be a challenging part of the divorce process.
It can become even more complex if your child does not want to spend time with one parent.
Does your child have a say regarding who becomes the custodial parent in your divorce?
In Missouri, there are some circumstances when a minor may express a preference about the custodial parent named in a divorce settlement. The courts review many factors when deciding which parent is the primary custodian. Your child will not have the final say, but a judge will consider a child’s opinions when making a judgment.
Will your child have to appear in court to state a custodial parent preference?
Missouri courts prefer to avoid having children testify in a courtroom. The court process and environment can be overwhelming and intimidating. Judges may conduct interviews with your child in chambers if necessary to gain more insight regarding custody wishes. However, the judge may choose not to speak directly with your child at all, depending on your unique circumstances. Instead, the court may use a child advocate such as a custody evaluator, a mental health professional or a guardian ad litem.
In Missouri, children cannot decide which parent to live with until they turn 18. Understanding the custody laws and the court process is vital for finding a desirable solution. A judge considers your child’s wishes regarding the custody arrangement in addition to other essential determinants to conclude the best situation for your child’s care.