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How do I file for child custody in Missouri and what exactly are the things I should ask for?

Liberty, MO |

My ex and I were never married and don't currently have a legal custody agreement. I live in Missouri and he lives in Michigan. Our daughter is 6 years old. As of now she lives with me and he sees her every other holiday and durin the summer. We've both agreed to that however I'm afraid hell decide to just not bring her home to me. This is why I'd like to get something legal drafted. How can I go about this without costing us both a lot of money. And what are the important details we need to work out and agree upon for our daughters custody?

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Attorney answers 2


If you and your child's father agree on the terms of your parenting arrangement, the cost of having an attorney prepare all of the documents and guide your matter through the courts should not be unreasonably expensive. The "something legal" that you need to have an enforceable parenting arrangement is a paternity judgment - which is signed by a judge. Getting to the judgment involves a court action called a paternity action. Just having a document signed by yourself and your child's father is not enough to have an enforceable parenting arrangement.

Answers given here are for general information only and do not create Ana attorney client relationship. The choice of an attorney is an important decision and should not be based on advertisement. I only am licensed in the state of Missouri. If you are seeking information in a different jurisdiction, you should seek an attorney in your jurisdiction.


So long as you and your ex agree on everything, the cost should not be that high for an attorney to prepare everything and see it through to final disposition. You can try to do it yourself using "pro se" papers, but there are special things that must be done in this typeof action where the parents are not married (i.e., you need to name the child as a party to the action, apply for appointment as the child's next friend, prepare an ordere appointing you next friend, etc.). Also, with regard to the parenting arrangements, many things must be addressed, including legal custody,physical custody, a visitation schedule, who pays for transportation, who pays for health insurance, how extraordinary costs are to be divided, whether and how much child support is to be paid, plus many other things. While you can do most of these things yourself, if you have errors or mistakes, or things are not in proper form, th judge may not grant the final orders until the mistakes are fixed.

Again, so long as both of you are in agreement, or can come to an agreement through negotitions, then there will not need to be a trial, and the matter should proceed fairly smoothly and at a much lower cost than if the matter were heavily litigated.

I would recommend that you consult with an attorney to go over in more detail the circumstances of your situation so that you can be properly advised on what needs to be done, and what it will cost to do it. Many attorneys offer free or low-cost initial consultations for such purposes.

The information contained in this posting does not create an attorney-client relationship, and is for general informational purposes only.

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