Missouri’s laws provide for shared custody agreements when both parents wish to take an active role in their children’s lives. Making decisions concerning a child’s education and religion may require joint or shared custody, which can offer more than visitation rights.

A family court judge does not generally award custody to both spouses unless they have requested it. According to The Missouri Times, parents need to plan for and mutually agree upon a co-parenting arrangement.

Determining parental responsibility

A parent’s gender does not usually determine whether he or she receives full custody over a couple’s children. The courts typically look at each parent’s income, residence and work schedule. An individual’s physical and mental health may also determine whether he or she could raise children responsibly.

Although a noncustodial parent could have a financial responsibility to provide support until a child becomes an adult, both parents may stand to benefit from having a personal relationship with a child. The courts generally take into account everyone’s needs and wishes.

Considering a child’s well-being

Judges in Missouri review several relevant factors when awarding shared custody. When ex-spouses do not live far from each other, it becomes easier for children to spend time with each parent. A shared custody arrangement may require deciding on which days of the week children stay with each parent, and on what holidays.

If one spouse relocates out-of-state, however, a judge may find it difficult to award custody to both parents. An arrangement may include children spending only the summer months with the spouse who has moved away.

Parents who remarry and start a new family may find that changed living arrangements could affect their children from a previous marriage. Conflicting lifestyles may influence their children’s overall growth and development. Depending on a stepparent’s involvement with a child, it may also result in an increase or a reduction in shared parenting time.

Questioning children to see what they prefer

A judge may ask a child questions about his or her preference in living arrangements. A child’s maturity, education and medical requirements may help determine the details of a shared parenting agreement.