Dad-friendly ‘child custody’ law comes into force law in Missouri


A law designed to make child residence rulings more gender-neutral has come into force in the Midwestern state of Missouri.

House Bill 1550, known as the ‘Shared Parenting Bill’, will bar family courts across the state from awarding care on the basis of gender, financial status or age. It will also prevent them from applying off-the-peg parenting plans when ruling on the time the children of divorced families should spend with each parent. Instead the office of Missouri Supreme Court will publish guidelines setting the required approach to such cases.

Judges will be encouraged to set aside traditional gender stereotypes and default to rulings in which the children spend roughly equal time with each divorced parent. Typically women are awarded primary care after divorce and fathers only receive occasional visitation or contact rights regardless of each family’s circumstances.

Under the new legislation, Missouri courts will be required to explain why shared custody was not applied in a particular case.

The bill was championed in the state legislature by Republican Representative Kathy Swan, who also helped to draft the wording. It was inspired by similar legislation in neighbouring Arkansas and Minnesota.

She said:

“We know spending time with both parents is invaluable to a child’s growth and security. This law is about the child.”

Photo of the Gateway Arch in Missouri capital St Louis by Bev Sykes via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons licence

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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Dr Grumpy - September 6, 2016 at 10:56am

When will it happen in the UK?

robert g leclair - September 7, 2016 at 6:09pm

This world is so corrupt and opponents are politically connected with tons of tax money that to protect families and children the struggle continues…braced yourself for the fight of your life.
See Millions of articles on protecting children of divorce…one aspect totally ignored! WHY?

Yvie - October 31, 2016 at 2:29pm

With equal time sharing the care of the children, both sets of parents will be sharing the costs also. If 50/50 shared care is in place this should eliminate the judgemental CSA, which counts overnight stays as the main criteria when calculating maintenance and does not consider the actual cost to the parent giving the care. It follows on that in the majority of cases where there is no extra maintenance to be gained, that there could be less parenteral alienation.

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