Modification of Child Custody

Missouri courts have a strong and distinct interest in making sure that children of divorce and separation have frequent and meaningful contact with both parents. The parents are both encouraged to continue sharing in the responsibilities and joys that come with raising a child. In the state of Missouri, parenting time is not dependent on the timely payment of child support. Visitation time cannot be withheld from a person who has been awarded that time simply because the other parent decides to not comply with the court order. The police generally do not get involved in attempting to enforce a court order. The parenting time scheduled in a judgment is an enforceable court order and usually needs to be address by the court with jurisdiction over that order. A parent who has been denied court-ordered parenting time may apply for enforcement by the court by filing a “Family Access Motion”.

The reason to modify has to include documentation that certain provisions in the original Judgment are no longer in the child’s best interests.

As in the original custody order, factors that influence the “best interests” of child include:

• The wishes of the child’s parents as to custody and the proposed parenting plan submitted by both parties;

• The needs of the child for frequent, continuing and meaningful relationship with both parents and the ability and willingness of parents to actively perform their functions as mother and father for the needs of the child;

• The interaction and interrelationship of the child with parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;

• Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent, continuing and meaningful contact with the other parent;

• The child’s adjustment to the child’s home, school, and community;

• The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, including any history of abuse of any individuals involved;

• The intention of either parent to relocate the principal residence of the child; and the wishes of the child as to the child’s custodian.

Courts in Missouri encourage frequent and continuous contact between the child and both parents so long as it serves the best interests of the child.

Missouri Courts will consider the following custody arrangements:

  1. Joint physical custody and joint legal custody to both parents
  2. Joint physical custody to both parents and sole legal custody to one parent
  3. Joint legal custody to both parents with sole physical custody to one parent
  4. Sole custody to either parent
  5. Third party custody or visitation


"Joint legal custody" describes a common and presumptive arrangement where both parents are required to collaborate in decision making involving major issues for the children. Typically, one parent will be designated as having primary physical custody, with the other parent having secondary physical custody or visitation. There is no presumptive residential schedule, and courts welcome mutually agreeable residential arrangements.


There is a presumption in Missouri that this type of arrangement is not in the best interests of children because one parent alone will be given the exclusive right and responsibility to make the important decisions discussed above. Sole Legal Responsibility generally will not be awarded unless the court believes that one of the parents is unfit to make decisions affecting the children.

Physical Custody

Missouri courts have a strong and distinct interest in making sure that children of divorce and separation have frequent and meaningful contact with both parents. The parents are both encouraged to continue sharing in the responsibilities and joys that come with raising a child. There are tools that modern courts use to achieve their goals. Those tools include: Shared Parental Responsibility, Sole Parental Responsibility and Rotating Custody.


Under this arrangement, a child spends a determined amount of time living with each parent at their respective homes. The parents work together to make major decisions. This sort of arrangement is still somewhat rare but it is possible if a court believes it is in the best interests of the child. Courts will usually order that parental responsibility for children be shared by both parents unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise. How do I determine the best Custody & Visitation arrangement for my minor child? If you need to determine child custody or visitation issues as you begin the dissolution of your partnership or marriage, are currently in the process of determining child custody or visitation, or if you are having problems or issues with a court-ordered custody arrangement, we can help.

Experienced Service and Legal Counsel

Our goal at West County Family Law is to provide the highest quality of experience, service and legal counsel. With more than 65 years of experience, attorneys Case & Rajnoha are capable of handling many types of legal matters. Founded in 1975, West County Family Law's trademark has been prompt, personal attention. Our success has been our dedication to our clients and protecting their best interests and rights. Our clients deserve to be well-represented, with quality legal services provided by a dedicated team of attorneys and paralegals. We pride ourselves in our personal service by making sure we are available for our client throughout the legal process.

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We seek to help you through the legal problem confronting you. The first step is an easy one: call us for a free telephone consultation at (636) 861-1111 to speak with our Ballwin family and criminal law attorneys. You can also contact us online.

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West County Family Law is located in Ballwin, Missouri, and serves the cities of St. Louis, Chesterfield, Fenton, Valley Park, Clayton, Creve Coeur, Kirkwood, Des Peres, Webster Groves, Manchester, Eureka, Hillsboro, Maryland Heights, Town and Country, Ellisville, Frontenac, Wildwood, Ladue and Crestwood. We also serve other communities in St. Louis County, Jefferson County, St. Charles County, West County and South County.