Missouri law creates standards for parents wanting to change custody. To “win” a custody modification case, you must meet the legal requirements. Our child custody lawyers explain how to best handle a custody modification case in Missouri.
How to “win” a custody modification case in Missouri
In order to modify a custody order in Missouri, you must prove two things:
- The circumstances have changed surrounding the children, and
- The current custody order no longer represents the best interests of the children.
Changing a custody order is not about what is convenient for a parent, although an order should be practical. For example, the court is unlikely to change custody because a parent has a new significant other. To “win” the case, the parent must show that circumstances surrounding the children have changed. The changes must be so significant that it makes sense to upend the current arrangement in favor of something new.
Examples of changes in circumstances for custody
Courts do not modify custody for minor reasons. There must be a significant change to justify changing the child’s routine. Examples of circumstances that may warrant a change in custody include:
- Child abuse
- Domestic violence
- A parent is charged with a serious crime
- The parent is unable to meet the child’s day to day needs, providing food, clothing, shelter, and other needs
- Inability or unwillingness of a parent to meet the child’s medical needs
- Substance abuse issues
- A parent is unwilling to follow the custody order and is interfering with the other parent’s relationship with the child
- Health problems of a parent interfere with their ability to provide a stable environment
The court will not interfere with a custody order for an ordinary life change. The change must be significant enough to make it better for the child to go live primarily with the other parent. To “win” a custody modification case, you must allege facts that amount to a change in circumstances that may significantly impact the child’s best interests.
How do I “win” a custody hearing in Missouri?
To decide whether to change custody, the court considers all the factors listed in Missouri Domestic Relations Law § 452.375(2), including:
- The child’s need to have a meaningful relationship with each parent
- Disposition of a parent to provide for the needs of the child
- The willingness of a parent to foster the relationship with the other parent
- The child’s home, school, and community record
- Interaction with parents, siblings, and others in the child’s life
- Mental and physical health of parents and the children
- Whether a parent wants to relocate with the child
- The child’s wishes
- Whether a parent has a felony conviction that prohibits unsupervised visitation
To “win” your case, you must present evidence related to these factors. Witnesses may testify. School records, medical information, and criminal records may all be important. To make the motion successful, you must have evidence of why things are different than they were when the court last decided the custody order. In addition, you must have evidence of why it is best to make a significant change in custody.
What if my case does not meet the standards to change custody? What can I do?
Even if a case does not meet the standards for a change in custody, it may qualify to change parenting time. Minor schedule changes can address ordinary life changes as children grow. These issues can be addressed by motioning the court to modify parenting time.
How can an attorney help?
It is important to understand whether your situation qualifies for a custody change before you motion the court. If you decide to make a custody motion, you must approach it in the right way to make it successful. An experienced attorney understands the circumstances where the court is likely to entertain a custody change. With experience in the courts, they know what information the court wants to see. They can help you present the information in a compelling way to achieve your goals.
Attorneys for a Custody Motion in Missouri
Are you thinking about a custody change in Missouri? Our child custody attorneys can help. Contact us today to talk about your case and how we can work together to make your modification case a success.