Luckily, the State of Missouri does have some laws in place that allow for temporary child custody (and support) during the course of a divorce case. The laws can apply to paternity cases to in many scenarios as well, but the actual laws allowing it are a bit murkier.
When pursuing temporary custody during your divorce case, you need to file a Motion Pendente Lite or more commonly referred to as a PDL Motion. This motion requests temporary custody during the case, as well as support and many times it will include a request for attorney’s fees. The opposing party can then consent with you on a custody plan to be put in place or the motion can be called for a hearing.
When a PDL Motion is called for a hearing, it will be a testimonial hearing as the Court will need to hear from the parties. Many times these PDL hearings will turn into a mini trial early in the case, so Judges will strongly encourage you to consent to a temporary plan so that the case does not have to be “tried twice” in a sense. It also saves a substantial amount of legal fees if the parties can just consent to a plan.
One word of warning – do not consent to a terribly restrictive plan if you plan to pursue a great deal of custody in the end. Many times judges like to maintain the status quo and will put a plan in place that is similar to the PDL order in the final order. PDL Motion can be very helpful to your case, but must be used properly to set the best tone for your case.