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Co-Parenting in Missouri: Joint Custody Tips for Divorced Parents

Understanding Co-Parenting

In Missouri, co-parenting is a term often used to describe single or divorced parents who have joint custody of one or more children. This occurs in cases when a child goes back and forth between two homes, or 'parents’ in non-traditional households. In a traditional parents’ household, there is usually a father and mother who are married to one another and live in the same home as the child. In a co-parenting situation, this is not always the case.


Co-parents don’t necessarily need to be living in different places or even in different homes. They could both be present in the same household, or they could just meet up on designated days with the child. Generally, though, it's understood to be two separate households where two different parents look after the child in alternating times.


Custody Considerations in Missouri

When it comes to co-parenting in Missouri, custody comes into play. In Missouri, the courts may give one parent primary physical custody of a child. This parent is usually granted the right to make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing. The other parent may then receive visitation rights. When a couple is not married, they must come to a custody agreement before the court will recognize their rights as parents and decide on custody.


In Missouri, joint custody is granted in a few different situations. The court considers the child’s involvement in school and extra-curricular activities, geographical distance, financial circumstances, and the parents’ ability to cooperate and communicate in making this determination.


The courts take into account the child’s best interests, and will be sure to make sure that both parents are fit to parent the child and that the parent receiving custody can provide for the child’s needs in terms of financial resources and emotional support. When a child is over the age of fourteen and demonstrates a preference as to which parent they would like to reside with, their wishes may be taken into account.


Child Support in Missouri

In any co-parenting situation, one parent may be required to make child support payments to the other parent. How much the parent pays is calculated according to a formula outlined in the Missouri Revised Statutes Chapter 452.340, also known as Missouri's Child Support Formula. The formula looks at a number of factors, including gross income of both parents, the total number of children involved, childcare costs, health insurance costs, and other such factors. This formula helps ensure that children receive the financial support they need.


Co-Parenting Expenses

In addition to child support, parents in a co-parenting arrangement may be subject to pay for other necessary expenses related to raising a child. While child support is used to cover basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter, extra-curricular activities, medical costs, and other expenses may come up. The Missouri Revised Statutes Chapter 452.340 outlines these expenses as well, and should be considered when making an agreement regarding co- parenting.


Parental Rights and Decisions

In Missouri, both parents in a co-parenting situation have certain rights and responsibilities. Missouri Revised Statutes Chapter 452.304 outlines the rights of the non-custodial parent, including the right to receive written notice of any legal proceedings concerning the child and be made aware of any proposed changes in the child’s education, medical care, and other decisions. This ensures that the non-custodial parent is involved in decisions about the child’s upbringing.


The Missouri Revised Statutes Chapter 452.337 outlines the rights and responsibilities of the custodial parent. These include the right to make decisions regarding the child’s education, religious upbringing, and daily care, with both parents mutually discussing any major decisions that affect the child. The non-custodial parent must also be informed of the child’s progress, health, and other matters.


Developing a Parenting Plan

In many co-parenting cases in Missouri, a parenting plan needs to be drawn up and agreed upon by both parents. Though parenting plans can be created without a court order, when a case is brought to court, a plan for co-parenting must be agreed upon by the court. This plan should outline the responsibilities of both parents, such as child support payments, visitation rights, custody arrangements, and any other arrangements related to the child.


The parenting plan should be written, signed by both parties, and reviewed by all parties involved. This plan must be in the child’s best interests, ensuring that both parents are able to provide for the child’s needs in the best way possible. The court will make sure that the plan is beneficial to the child and both parents before approving it.


Visitation Rights

In Missouri, visitation rights are granted to non-custodial parents in co-parenting arrangements. Though the parent with physical custody of the child has the right to make daily decisions regarding their upbringing, the non-custodial parent still has certain rights. These include the right to spend time with their child and be informed of any changes in the child's upbringing. The court will decide on how much visitation is to be granted, taking into consideration the child’s best interests.


Using Mediation and Other Agreements

In Missouri, co-parenting couples and divorcing couples are strongly encouraged to go through mediation for all matters regarding the child. A mediator, who is legally trained and unbiased, helps the parties involved discuss and come to an agreement regarding the child’s custody, support, and other matters. Through mediators, couples can come to a more amicable arrangement, preventing the need to go through a more drawn-out and costly court battle.


In cases where couples cannot come to an agreement, they may use other forms of agreements, such as parenting contracts. These contracts should address important questions regarding the co-parenting arrangement, as well as any issues that may arise. Both parties must be in agreement, and may institute the contract if all parties are in agreement.



Co-parenting in Missouri is governed by the state’s courts and laws. Parents who are in a co-parenting situation should be aware of their rights and responsibilities. Custody, child support, and visitation rights should be taken into consideration in order to have a successful and beneficial parenting arrangement.


Fact Check and Resources

In crafting this post, we conducted thorough fact-checking and research, consulting the following sources:


Co-parenting in USA


Co-parenting in Canada


Warning:  This post is neither financial, health, legal, or personal advice nor a substitute for the advice offered by a professional. These are serious matters, and the help of a professional is recommended as it can impact your future.

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