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More family courts prefer joint custody

41461610_S.jpgWhen Missouri parents decide to divorce, many fathers may worry about losing their relationship with their children afterwards. However, an increasing number of family courts favor shared parenting and joint physical custody as a way to protect the kids' relationship with both parents. While in the past, courts tended to give physical custody to the mothers, this has changed dramatically in the past 30 years. Child development experts and family courts understand that the involvement of both parents can be particularly important for healthy growth, absent an environment of neglect or abuse.

In addition, an increasing number of fathers are actively seeking custody. Society's view of fatherhood has changed from one based more on provision of physical needs to one that encourages a close and loving bond between fathers and children. In fact, when fathers actively seek custody, they have a very good chance of at least obtaining joint custody. Child custody covers two types of matters: legal custody, including the authority to make decisions about a child's religion, education and health care, and physical custody, where the child lives most of the time. In general, most divorces begin with the presumption that legal custody will be shared between both parents.

It is often best for both parents to negotiate how residential custody will be shared. The schedule should accommodate the children's educational needs as well as the parents' employment schedules. Developing a parenting plan can be challenging, but many parents find different forms of shared residential custody that work for their families, especially when the parents live close to one another.

Divorce can introduce major emotional, practical, and financial changes, but both parents can still retain their closeness with their children. A family law attorney can work with a divorcing parent to negotiate child custody issues and reach a fair settlement.

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