Sole Custody Overview
Sole custody refers to a custody arrangement where one parent has both legal and physical custody of the child. Legal custody refers to which parent has responsibility for issues concerning the health, education and welfare of the child, and for making major decisions for the child. With sole physical custody, the child resides with one parent, while the noncustodial parent may have visitation rights set by the court. Although one parent may have sole custody, it is also possible for the court to award sole legal custody to one parent and shared physical custody to both parents, or vice versa.
Before going to court for the initial custody order or modification, parents are encouraged by the court to reach a parenting plan on their own. When parents cannot come to an agreement, the court will determine the custody arrangement. The primary concern throughout the custody process is the best interest of the child. Some of the factors the court may consider include the wishes of the parents and the child, changes in the child's schooling, and the mental and physical health of each parent.
In order to reverse or modify an existing custody order in Missouri, you may first contact the other parent to determine if you can reach an agreement without going to court. However, if you do not come to an agreement, you must convince the court that the change you're seeking is in the best interest of the child. You must provide evidence that there has been a change in circumstances since the original order or the reasons for changing the custody arrangement were unknown at the time the first custody order was awarded.
Motion to Modify Custody
In order to reverse the custody order, you must file a Motion to Modify and supplemental forms with the court that issued the existing custody order. You must serve the other parent with the motion and attached forms. If the other parent contests the modification, the court may schedule a hearing. Before the hearing, the court may require the parents to complete a litigant awareness program, parent education program, mediation, discovery or a pre-trial hearing. At the hearing, you must present evidence to show the custody order should be modified by demonstrating circumstances have changed since the original custody order and modification is in the best interest of the child.