Circumstances frequently change after the completion of a divorce, and
as such, parents may wish to modify aspects of their parenting agreement,
including physical child custody. One such case was presented before the
Circuit Court of St. Charles County in August of last year, which resulted
in the judge creating a ruling that set the standard for similar cases
for many years to come.
In this particular case, a mother sought to appeal a decision that went
the way of her ex-husband, who had filed to increase his physical custody
time for a number of reasons. The mother claimed that the court had erred
by being “overly-influenced” by some factors while not giving
enough weight to the ones that demonstrated her ability to maintain the
best interests of the children. However, the courts throughout Missouri
had never really established which one of the three standards was to be
used in which situation.
Three Standards, Now Standardized
The three standards for determining if a change to physical custody is
warranted. Those standards are known as the
statutory standard, the
case law standard, and the
The statutory standard is for when one parent seeks a modification that
“does not ‘deprive one custodial parent of custody altogether.’”
In other words, this standard is now to be used to modify a joint physical
custody order, and have it remain as a joint physical custody order.
The case law standard is for situations in which a “substantial change
in circumstances” has occurred, and the modification sought would
take custody away from one custodial parent entirely. This can apply in
only two circumstances: sole physical custody from one parent to sole
physical custody of the other, or joint physical custody to sole physical
custody of one parent.
The modification standard is different from the previous two, as it pertains
to modifying visitation or “parenting time” of the two parents.
In these modifications, both parents maintain their current custody standard,
but simply alter the time which they get to spend with their children.
Since these standards have now been defined by this case, the courts for
the state of Missouri will likely use them for modifications cases going
forward. A Chesterfield family attorney will be able to better assist
you with determining the best way to present your modification case before
a judge using one of these three legal standards.
Pedano, O’Shea, McGavic & Hogenmiller, LLC, we focus exclusively on family law issues, utilizing a unique and holistic
approach to provide you with counsel that is custom tailored to help you
achieve your goals. You will never become just a case number at our firm;
we take pride in providing each client with compassionate guidance that
treats your issue as though it is as important to us as it is to you.
Find out more about how we can help you! Call Pedano, O’Shea, McGavic
& Hogenmiller, LLC today at 636.742.1418 for a
complimentary case evaluation!