Custody disagreements can turn ugly quickly when a couple divorces. Contested custody issues can make a divorce last longer and cost more. They can also make the process more stressful for the children.
While you may want to keep things civil, your spouse may not choose to take the high road. Although most couples will share custody after a divorce, sometimes one spouse will try to get sole custody despite their ex wanting to remain an involved parent.
Parents hoping to use the courts to punish their ex or remove them from the lives of the children will typically have to create a compelling story to even have the courts consider their request.
The Missouri family courts presume that shared custody is better for the kids
If you don’t reach a settlement with your spouse before you go to court, then a Missouri family law judge will have to assist you in resolving your conflicts and setting custody terms. The state operates under the assumption that it is typically in the best interest of the children for the parents to share custody.
To convince the court to deviate from that presumption, a parent seeking sole custody will need a strong claim that the other parent is unsafe or unstable. Only if a judge agrees that it would not be in the best interests of the children to spend time with one parent is sole custody likely in a modern Missouri divorce.
What kind of claims could lead to sole custody?
Historically, unsubstantiated allegations ranging from abnormal religious practices to marital infidelity could affect custody. In modern divorces, allegations made against one parent need to have a clear consequence for the children in the family.
Physical abuse, significant neglect or even issues with addiction could convince a judge that one parent won’t act in the best interests of the children or that their access to or control over the children could put the kids in danger. Typically, the testimony of one person won’t be enough to substantiate such claims. There will need to be evidence or documentation to convince a judge of a history of abuse or chemical dependence issues that affect parenting.
Knowing limited circumstances in which your spouse could try to request sole custody can help you better respond to contested and complex child custody issues.