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Missouri

4. The general assembly finds and declares that it is the public policy of this state that frequent, continuing and meaningful contact with both parents after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage is in the best interest of the child, except for cases where the court specifically finds that such contact is not in the best interest of the child, and that it is the public policy of this state to encourage parents to participate in decisions affecting the health, education and welfare of their children, and to resolve disputes involving their children amicably through alternative dispute resolution. In order to effectuate these policies, the court shall determine the custody arrangement which will best assure both parents participate in such decisions and have frequent, continuing and meaningful contact with their children so long as it is in the best interests of the child.
5. Prior to awarding the appropriate custody arrangement in the best interest of the child, the court shall consider each of the following as follows:
(1) Joint physical and joint legal custody to both parents, which shall not be denied solely for the reason that one parent opposes a joint physical and joint legal custody award. The residence of one of the parents shall be designated as the address of the child for mailing and educational purposes;
(2) Joint physical custody with one party granted sole legal custody. The residence of one of the parents shall be designated as the address of the child for mailing and educational purposes;
(3) Joint legal custody with one party granted sole physical custody;
(4) Sole custody to either parent; or
(5) Third-party custody or visitation:
(a) When the court finds that each parent is unfit, unsuitable, or unable to be a custodian, or the welfare of the child requires, and it is in the best interests of the child, then custody, temporary custody or visitation may be awarded to any other person or persons deemed by the court to be suitable and able to provide an adequate and stable environment for the child. Before the court awards custody, temporary custody or visitation to a third person under this subdivision, the court shall make that person a party to the action;
(b) Under the provisions of this subsection, any person may petition the court to intervene as a party in interest at any time as provided by supreme court rule.
6. If the parties have not agreed to a custodial arrangement, or the court determines such arrangement is not in the best interest of the child, the court shall include a written finding in the judgment or order based on the public policy in subsection 4 of this section and each of the factors listed in subdivisions (1) to (8) of subsection 2 of this section detailing the specific relevant factors that made a particular arrangement in the best interest of the child. If a proposed custodial arrangement is rejected by the court, the court shall include a written finding in the judgment or order detailing the specific relevant factors resulting in the rejection of such arrangement.
7. Upon a finding by the court that either parent has refused to exchange information with the other parent, which shall include but not be limited to information concerning the health, education and welfare of the child, the court shall order the parent to comply immediately and to pay the prevailing party a sum equal to the prevailing party's cost associated with obtaining the requested information, which shall include but not be limited to reasonable attorney's fees and court costs.
8. 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.
9. Any judgment providing for custody shall include a specific written parenting plan setting forth the terms of such parenting plan arrangements specified in subsection 7 of section 452.310. Such plan may be a parenting plan submitted by the parties pursuant to section 452.310 or, in the absence thereof, a plan determined by the court, but in all cases, the custody plan approved and ordered by the court shall be in the court's discretion and shall be in the best interest of the child.

Chapter 452
Dissolution of Marriage, Divorce, Alimony and Separate Maintenance
Section 452.377

August 28, 2001


Relocation of child by parent for more than ninety days, required procedure--violation, effect--notice of relocation of parent, required procedure.
452.377. 1. For purposes of this section and section 452.375, "relocate" or "relocation" means a change in the principal residence of a child for a period of ninety days or more, but does not include a temporary absence from the principal residence.
2. Notice of a proposed relocation of the residence of the child, or any party entitled to custody or visitation of the child, shall be given in writing by certified mail, return receipt requested, to any party with custody or visitation rights. Absent exigent circumstances as determined by a court with jurisdiction, written notice shall be provided at least sixty days in advance of the proposed relocation. The notice of the proposed relocation shall include the following information:
6. If the parties agree to a revised schedule of custody and visitation for the child, which includes a parenting plan, they may submit the terms of such agreement to the court with a written affidavit signed by all parties with custody or visitation assenting to the terms of the agreement, and the court may order the revised parenting plan and applicable visitation schedule without a hearing.
7. The residence of the child may be relocated sixty days after providing notice, as required by this section, unless a parent files a motion seeking an order to prevent the relocation within thirty days after receipt of such notice. Such motion shall be accompanied by an affidavit setting forth the specific factual basis supporting a prohibition of the relocation. The person seeking relocation shall file a response to the motion within fourteen days, unless extended by the court for good cause, and include a counter-affidavit setting forth the facts in support of the relocation as well as a proposed revised parenting plan for the child.
Chapter 452
Dissolution of Marriage, Divorce, Alimony and Separate Maintenance
Section 452.310

August 28, 2001


Petition, contents--service, how--rules to apply--defenses abolished--parenting plans submitted, when, content.
4. The mere fact that one parent has actual possession of the child at the time of filing shall not create a preference in favor of such parent in any judicial determination regarding custody of the child.
7. The petitioner and respondent shall submit a proposed parenting plan, either individually or jointly, within thirty days after service of process or the filing of the entry of appearance, whichever event first occurs of a motion to modify or a petition involving custody or visitation issues. The proposed parenting plan shall set forth the arrangements that the party believes to be in the best interest of the minor children and shall include but not be limited to:
(1) A specific written schedule detailing the custody, visitation and residential time for each child with each party including:
8. If the proposed parenting plans of the parties differ and the parties cannot resolve the differences or if any party fails to file a proposed parenting plan, upon motion of either party and an opportunity for the parties to be heard, the court shall enter a temporary order containing a parenting plan setting forth the arrangements specified in subsection 7 of this section which will remain in effect until further order of the court. The temporary order entered by the court shall not create a preference for the court in its adjudication of final custody, child support or visitation.

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