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How Does the “Missouri Shared Custody Bill” Affect Me? 

Change 1

“Parenting plan guidelines shall be made available on the office of state court administrator’s website.” Nothing special here. They have always been available to the public, and this does not require a change to the guidelines.

Change 2

Justification for the amount of child support ordered is now required to be set forth in the Judgment. I honestly have never seen a Judge not do that anyway.

Change 3

Custody is still determined on the best interests of the child, that hasn’t changed, nor has the factors they are to consider. They tried to make clear a provision requiring justification for the custody ordered, but again, I have never seen a Judge fail to do this.

Change 4

“The court shall not presume that a parent, solely because of his or her sex, is more qualified than the other parent to act as a joint or sole legal or physical custodian for the child.”This is a new sentence added to the existing sentence stating,“As between the parents of a child, no preference may be given to either parent in the awarding of custody because of that parent's age, sex, or financial status, nor because of the age or sex of the child.” Call me crazy, but that seems redundant.

Change 5

“After August 28, 2016, every court order establishing or modifying custody or visitation shall include the following language: "In the event of noncompliance with this order, the aggrieved party may file a verified motion for contempt. If custody, visitation, or third-party custody is denied or interfered with by a parent or third party without good cause, the aggrieved person may file a family access motion with the court stating the specific facts that constitute a violation of the custody provisions of the judgment of dissolution, legal separation, or judgment of paternity. The circuit clerk will provide the aggrieved party with an explanation of the procedures for filing a family access motion and a simple form for use in filing the family access motion. A family access motion does not require the assistance of legal counsel to prepare and file." This was honestly a good change, because it educates people on how to handle non-compliance issues. However, If you had me as an attorney, then we had this discussion anyway. Never-the-less, this doesn’t change the initial case.

Change 6

“No court shall adopt any local rule, form, or practice requiring a standardized or default parenting plan for interim, temporary, or permanent orders or judgments. Notwithstanding any other provision to the contrary, a court may enter an interim order in a proceeding under this chapter, provided that the interim order shall not contain any provisions about child custody or a parenting schedule or plan without first providing the parties with notice and a hearing, unless the parties otherwise agree.” This one seems obvious to me, and no court around here seems to be in violation. Again, this changes nothing.

Change 7

“The court shall consider, in a proceeding to enforce or modify a permanent custody or visitation order or judgment, a party's violation, without good cause, of a provision of the parenting plan, for the purpose of determining that party's ability and willingness to allow the child frequent and meaningful contact with the other party.” Here is yet another example of redundancy. The courts are already required to do this, so I see no change.

Change 8

The Parenting Handbook everyone receives at the start of their case will now include, “(1) Guidelines as to what is included in a parenting plan in order to maximize to the highest degree the amount of time the child may spend with each parent;” The problem is that it doesn’t mandate what that means. Again, every Court around here maximizes contact with both parents while considering the best interests of the child. This changes nothing.

Change 9

The handbook will be available online, and the parties will get a copy! Hooray!

That’s it folks. I see nothing about shared custody or a 50/50 presumption. I don't know if this helps you or hurts you, but maybe now you have the knowledge to make your decision. This is, however, a step in the right direction for fathers. shared custody works, but it starts with parents communicating. no matter what happens with the law, you will never be able to share custody if you and your EX(-spouse) cant communicate. 

HB 1550 was signed by Governor Nixon July 1, 2016 and went into effect immediately. What does this mean for you? Probably nothing. Here is a link to the Bill so you can read it yourself, click here.However, if you are not a fan of legalese, let me summarize the changes.

This is where the "Shared Custody" label came from.