The common myth that I hear, especially among the “father’s rights” contingent, is that Moms always get the kids in a custody fight. The fact is that judges in Missouri are supposed to analyze the custody issue to determine what is in the child’s “best interests.” Sometimes that analysis will mean that the kids should spend more time with mom, or sometimes it means they will spend more time with dad. However, what you really need to know is that judges do not live in a vacuum. A judge walks into a courtroom with certain experiences and points of view that affect the way they will view what is in the child’s “best interests.” I can point out judges to you that tend to always give the same parenting schedule, regardless of the circumstances of a case. I can point you to another judge who is not impacted at all by a parent’s drug use because of her own substance abuse history. Yet another judge will favor an even split in custody because of the way he and his wife handle parenting. The theme here is that, if you are going to fight over custody, it is very important to consult with an attorney who knows the judges in your particular area. But here is another thing to consider: should a judge be the one determining your custody and parenting arrangement? Remember, a judge will make a decision based upon what they see over the course of just a few hours of a trial. They do not know you; they do not know your kids. You will be asking a COMPLETE STRANGER to make decisions for you that will affect you and your children for years to come. Sometimes, a judge is the only way to resolve a dispute about custody but do give some thought to whether you and your “co-parent” can figure out the best plan between the two of you.
Ann Littell Mills