Ask a Divorce Lawyer: Is income of the parties a factor in deciding who gets custody?

Question: I live in Missouri and am going to get a divorce. I was wondering what is the biggest factor in who will get the kids? 

My wife makes a lot more money, but I’m the one who takes care of them most of the time, drop off and pick up from daycare, make the dinner, bathe them, etc. 

Will any of that pay a factor or will the courts simply side with the rich mom who can buy them nicer things, a bigger house, and better schools? Sounds cheesy, but do the courts ever take love of the children into the decision, which would greatly slant my way? 

 

Answer: First, I must preface that I do not practice in Missouri.  However, Cordell & Cordell has many domestic litigation attorneys licensed and located in Missouri who would be happy to assist you.

In most jurisdictions, the determination of a placement schedule is determined by considering the best interest of the child.  This is often discovered by considering the status quo which is you as the primary caretaker. 

In my jurisdiction, the Court considers the following to determine the best interest of a child:  the wishes of the parents, the wishes of the child either communicated by the child or through a guardian ad litem, the relationship the child has with each parent and siblings, the amount and quality of time that each parent has spent with the child in the past, reasonable life-style changes proposed by a parent to be able to spend time with the child in the future, the age and needs of the child, the child’s adjustment, mental or physical health of the parties or child, availability of child care services, the cooperation and communication between the parties, the need for regularly occurring and meaningful periods of physical placement to provide predictability and stability for the child, whether one party unreasonably refuses to cooperate or communicate with the other party, whether each party can support the other party’s relationship with the child, whether a party has engaged in abuse of the child or the other party, criminal records of either party and those whom the party resides with or is in a relationship with and whether either party has had a significant problem with drugs or alcohol.  Notice income of the parties is not a consideration. 

In most states, income of the parties is only considered when determining support not placement. 

 

Erica Christian is an Associate Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. She is licensed to practice law in the state of Wisconsin. She is a member of the Wisconsin Bar Association, the Family Law Section and the Children’s Law Section.

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