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Child Custody Attorney in Thayer, Missouri

You may have been the one who started the divorce process. Or, maybe you knew it was coming, or you could have been completely surprised. No matter what your situation is, if you have children with your spouse, your divorce may be complicated. Establishing a child custody arrangement that works for the child (or children) as well as both parents can take time and effort.

Setting up a child custody arrangement that puts the child’s best interests first is most important. It’s also important that your rights as a parent are protected during the entire process.

At my firm, The Law Office of Fred O’Neill, I fight for the justice my clients deserve. I’ve been helping my clients with their legal matters for almost 30 years, so I have the knowledge and experience to pursue the best possible outcome in your case. At The Law Office of Fred O’Neill, I represent clients in Thayer, Missouri, and clients in West Plains, the Ozarks, and North Central Arkansas.

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Establishing a Child Custody Arrangement

Before you begin the legal process, it is helpful to know that there are two typical ways that child custody arrangements happen: either both parents agree or disagree on the arrangement.

Child Custody Option One: Both Parents Agree

In this option, both parents agree on all the details of the child custody arrangement, including parenting time, visitation, and all the other relevant details. The parents present their arrangement to the court for approval.

This is always the best option because it takes less time and is much less expensive than the second option. An experienced family law attorney can help both parents keep the conversation productive.

Child Custody Option Two: Parents Disagree

When you and your former spouse can’t agree on a child custody arrangement, the case will go to family court. It will be up to the judge to make decisions about parenting time and visitation. A knowledgeable family law attorney can help you by representing both your child’s best interests and your best interests in court.

Joint Custody vs. Sole Custody

Joint custody, as the name implies, is when both parents share responsibility for the child. On the other hand, in a sole custody arrangement, only one parent will be responsible for the child. Joint custody and sole custody are further used to distinguish between legal custody and physical custody as well.

Legal Custody vs. Physical Custody

Legal custody is the authority the parent has to make major decisions in the child’s life. Joint legal custody means both parents will have that authority, while sole legal custody means that only one parent will have that authority.

Physical custody refers to where the child lives. In joint physical custody, the child will live with both parents. In sole physical custody, the child will only live with one parent.

Factors Considered in Determining Custody

The court will weigh many different factors when deciding the child custody arrangement. Above all else, the court will focus on the mental and physical health of the child. Other factors the court will consider include:

  • The child’s need for a relationship with both parents

  • The child’s interactions with parents and siblings

  • How the child will adjust

  • Both parent’s ability to act as a mother or father

  • If either parent plans to move and relocate the child

  • If one parent is more likely than the other to allow the other parent contact with the child

  • If there was a history of abuse

  • The parent’s wishes

  • The child’s wishes

Modifying an Existing Child Custody Arrangement

It is possible to change your current child custody arrangement. However, the process can be complicated. Usually, there must be a significant life change for a court to grant a modification of child custody. An experienced family law attorney can guide you and help you make the strongest case for a modification.

Significant life changes include moving to a new home, losing a job, being promoted, re-marrying, and other similar major life events.

Child Custody Attorney
Serving Thayer, Missouri

Establishing a child custody arrangement raises questions about who the child will spend time with, from major holidays to on a daily basis. Protect your child’s best interests with the help of a family law attorney. At The Law Office of Fred O’Neill, I put seeking justice for my clients first. I am proud to represent clients in Thayer, Missouri, West Plains, the Ozarks, and North Central Arkansas. Contact my firm to schedule an appointment.