Legal Information: Missouri


May 9, 2022

Who can get custody?

Custody can be granted to either parent or both parents.1 A judge cannot give preference to either parent because of that parent’s age, sex, or financial status, nor because of the age or sex of the child.2

In certain circumstances, custody or visitation can be granted to someone else, known as a third party. In order for a non-parent to get third-party custody or visitation, the judge must believe that:

  1. it is in the best interests of the child to do so; and
  2. either:
    • each parent is unfit, unsuitable, or unable to be a custodian; or
    • the well-being (welfare) of the child requires it.1

If the judge is believes it is necessary to grant custody or temporary custody to a non-parent, the first preference will be to give it to someone who is related by blood (consanguinity) or marriage (affinity) to the child. If no such person is willing to accept custody, then the judge can give custody to someone who the judge believes is suitable and able to provide an adequate and stable environment for the child.1

​1 MO ST § 452.375(5)
​2 MO ST § 452.375(8)

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