The Law Office of Kurt H King

October 18, 2012

When Sole Custody is Really Joint Physical Child Custody in Missouri

Filed under: Custody,Family Law,Paternity — kurthking @ 4:11 pm

On September 18, 2012, the Western District of the Missouri Court of Appeals changed the trial court’s award of sole child custody to one of joint physical child custody.  The case is Clark v. Ingram, WD Slip Opinion 74554, appealed out of Clay County, Missouri.

The key facts behind the court of appeal’s decision to change the judgment to one of joint physical custody is that while the trial court labeled the custody awarded to the child’s mother as “sole custody,” the lower court also ordered “significant” parenting time for the father.  Specifically, the trial court initially granted the father one or two week days with the child staying  with him overnight, split the holidays between father and mother, and awarded father five consecutive days with the child during the summer.  Once the child started kindergarten, the court’s parenting plan changed somewhat to grant father alternate weekends from Friday at 4 p.m. until start of school on Monday, and from 4 p.m. on Wednesday until school began on Thursday each week.

Given this significant amount of visitation with the child, the court of appeals ruled that father has joint physical custody, not sole custody.

The “joint” custody label is important as it gives each parent impact and access to school and health information, as well as joint decision-making as to the child in those areas and others.

Kurt H. King

Law Office of Kurt H. King, 20 E. Franklin, Liberty, Clay County, Missouri; 816.781.6000

Family Law–Dissolution of Marriage, Modifications, Child Custody Disputes, Paternity, Child Support

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