Many years ago, women couldn’t own property and had few legal rights. Divorce often ended with the father retaining custody of the children. However, beginning in the 19th century, things began to change. The notion that women were more capable of caring for children became more commonplace, while men were often seen as more capable of supplying financial resources.
Fast forward to the present, and nationwide statistics show that nine out of ten divorces now end with the mother retaining primary residency of the children. This is despite the fact that divorce laws are intended to be gender-neutral. That begs the question: what rights do men actually have in the face of such prevailing statistics?
If you have a divorce pending or are considering a divorce in Kansas or Missouri, contact Ron Rundberg at Rundberg Law, LLC, who is an experienced divorce attorney in both states. I have helped many divorcing parents negotiate a parenting plan that they agree is what is best for their children. If a parenting plan cannot be negotiated, I will represent you in court to explain why your proposed parenting plan is what is best for the children. Whether you live in Kansas or Missouri, I have the knowledge and experience to help you navigate your divorce and ensure your parental rights are protected.
When children are involved, determining child custody becomes a key issue in your divorce. The “best interests of the child” will be the overriding factor when it comes to a judge deciding on custody. The law states that the decision must be gender-neutral.
When deciding what’s considered the “best interests'' of a child, the court will consider a number of different factors. These factors include, but are not limited to:
The child's adjustment to home, school, and community;
The wishes of the parents and the child;
Financial considerations such as income and the ability to provide for the child;
Which parent is most likely to cooperate in helping the child maintain a relationship with the other parent; and
Any evidence of spousal abuse.
After taking these and other factors into consideration, the judge can award either sole or joint legal custody. Sole legal custody allows one parent to make all parenting decisions regarding the child’s (or children’s) well-being. Joint legal custody means that both parents must agree on such decisions. Sole custody is rarely granted unless a parent is unfit or has not previously participated in making decisions about the care of the children.
Residency is another common issue that can add to the complexity of divorce proceedings. Generally, the judge will award one parent primary physical custody of the child or children. The other parent will be allowed parenting time, or what is sometimes referred to as visitation. However, it is becoming more and more common for parents to have equal parenting time.
The best approach is for the divorcing parents to resolve custody issues on their own and submit a parenting plan to the judge for approval. As an experienced child custody attorney, I can help you develop this plan through mediation or negotiation.
Again, like Kansas and most other states, the predominant factor that the court will consider for custody is “the best interests of the child.” Likewise, there are both legal custody and physical custody issues that need to be resolved by the court. Sole physical and legal custody is less common, barring proof that one parent is unfit.
According to Missouri custody laws, there are five available types of arrangements that the court will consider:
Joint physical and legal custody for both parents;
Joint physical custody for both parents and sole legal custody to one;
Joint legal custody for both parents and sole physical custody to one;
Sole custody (both legal and physical) to one parent; or
Custody or visitation rights granted to third parties (such as grandparents).
Custody decisions will be made using a variety of factors that include but are not limited to:
The wishes of both parents and the child;
The child’s relationship with each parent;
The location and proximity to the child’s school;
The mental and physical well-being of each parent; and
Any evidence of child abuse or neglect.
The best approach to resolving custody issues is to work out a parenting agreement with the other parent. Otherwise, you are left with the judge making the decision for you. This often results in a parenting plan that neither parent likes. An agreed parenting plan will save you significant time, money, and stress. Unfortunately, coming to a mutual agreement is a very difficult task if you do not have the assistance of an experienced divorce attorney.
Among the issues to be agreed upon are:
Deciding on who will retain physical custody of the child or children;
Setting up a parenting time schedule;
Deciding who will make the decisions when deciding what’s best for the child or children; and
Resolving issues involving family friends, grandparents, and others who wish to remain active in the child’s life.
Rundberg Law, LLC is located in Overland Park, Kansas, but for years I have been assisting divorcing spouses in both Kansas and Missouri. I can help you work on a parenting plan that will avoid the uncertainty of leaving every decision in the hands of a judge. If you or someone you know is facing issues with divorce, call my office today. Through a free case consultation, I will be happy to discuss the details of your unique situation, and begin to outline a plan that is best for you and your children.