Missouri courts always decide custody matters based on the best interests of the child. It is presumed that both parents should take an active part in the process of raising a child, so, in most cases, the court is inclined to award joint custody. When deciding on custody, the court considers numerous factors, including the wishes of the spouses regarding custody, the parents' ability to peacefully resolve controversial issues regarding the child, the mental and physical health of the parents and children, the relationship between a child and each parent, the habitual residence of the child, the wishes of the child regarding custody, and any other factors that the court may consider important.
Based on these considerations, physical and legal custody can be awarded to one or both parents.
Legal custody determines who has the authority to make decisions on crucial matters impacting the child. Physical custody determines with whom a child lives or spends a significant amount of time.