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Missouri v. Illinois: Child Custody

By: Attorney Shira Truitt

Child custody is a complex and emotionally charged issue that can be especially difficult for parents to navigate. In Illinois and Missouri, there are specific laws that dictate how child custody is determined and how it is enforced. Here's a brief overview of the key differences between Illinois and Missouri child custody law:

  1. Jurisdiction: Illinois and Missouri have different laws and courts that handle child custody matters. In Illinois, the jurisdiction for child custody matters is the circuit court, while in Missouri it is the family court.

  2. Best interests of the child: Both Illinois and Missouri use the "best interests of the child" standard to determine custody arrangements. This means that the court will consider a variety of factors, including the child's age, the relationship between the child and each parent, the child's emotional and physical needs, and any evidence of abuse or neglect.

  3. Sole custody vs. joint custody: Illinois and Missouri have different approaches to child custody. In Illinois, there are two main types of custody: sole custody and joint custody. Sole custody means that one parent has the primary responsibility for the child's care and decision-making, while joint custody means that both parents have an equal role in the child's care and decision-making. In Missouri, there are three main types of custody: sole custody, joint custody, and shared custody. Shared custody means that the child spends substantial time with both parents, while sole and joint custody refer to the decision-making responsibilities of the parents.

  4. Mediation: Both Illinois and Missouri offer the option of mediation to help parents resolve custody disputes. In Illinois, mediation is typically mandatory before a custody case can go to trial, while in Missouri it is voluntary. Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party helps the parents reach an agreement on custody and parenting time.

  5. Modification of custody: In both Illinois and Missouri, custody arrangements can be modified if there has been a significant change in circumstances. This could include a change in the child's needs, a change in the parents' living situations, or evidence of abuse or neglect. In Illinois, the court may modify custody if it is in the best interests of the child, while in Missouri, the court must find that a modification is necessary to serve the best interests of the child.

Overall, Illinois and Missouri have similar approaches to child custody, with a focus on the best interests of the child and the option of mediation to resolve disputes. However, there are some key differences in the laws and procedures that parents should be aware of if they are involved in a custody case in either state.


  • Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, 750 ILCS 5/

  • Missouri Revised Statutes, Chapter 452

If you need legal advice or a lawyer in Illinois or Missouri, please contact The Truitt Law Firm, LLC for assistance. For more information on The Truitt Law Firm, LLC or to schedule an appointment, please go to

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