Missouri recently revised § 452.375 R.S. Mo., which is the statute that lists the factors a judge must consider when making child custody and parenting time decisions. The biggest change to this statute is that Missouri now recognizes a presumption that 50/50 parenting time is in the best interests of a child. Although this is now the presumed standard, that presumption can be rebutted by showing by a preponderance of the evidence that it is not in the best interests of the child to award equal parenting time to the parents.
In determining whether or not to rebut the 50/50 presumption, a judge will consider the factors listed in the statute. For example, one of the factors is whether a parent will allow the child to have frequent and meaningful contact with the other parent. If a judge finds that, by a preponderance of the evidence, one parent will not help facilitate a meaningful relationship between the child and the other parent, the 50/50 presumption may be rebutted.
This presumption can also be rebutted if there is a finding of a pattern of domestic violence or if the parties come to an alternative agreement on their own. Since there are many nuances that play into custody determinations, it’s helpful to retain a lawyer to navigate these nuances and advocate on your behalf to get the best possible outcome for you and your children.
The choice of a lawyer is an important one and should not be based solely on advertisements.