Justia Missouri Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Family Law
State ex rel. Cullen v. Honorable Kevin Harrell
The Supreme Court quashed the preliminary writ issued in this original proceeding in prohibition brought by Husband seeking to prohibit the circuit court from enforcing its order compelling him to turn over all correspondence pertaining to his military retirement benefits and to sign an authorization releasing his military records related to reservist points he earned during his marriage to Wife, holding that Husband failed to establish that the circuit court exceeded its authority when it sustained Wife’s motion to compel. Specifically, the Court held (1) the circuit court’s order did not modify or otherwise grant Wife any relief from the division of property in the parties’ dissolution judgment, and therefore, the circuit court’s order was not governed by the one-year time limitation in Rule 74.06(c) and was not barred under the doctrines of collateral estoppel or res judicata; and (2) the circuit court’s order did not violate Husband’s due process rights or privacy rights under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. View "State ex rel. Cullen v. Honorable Kevin Harrell" on Justia Law
Archdekin v. Archdekin
The Supreme Court reversed in part and affirmed in part the final judgment of the trial court dissolving Husband’s marriage to Wife, holding that the trial court’s retroactive award of maintenance was erroneous but the judgment was otherwise proper. In 2013, the trial court entered an interlocutory judgment entry for dissolution of marriage dissolving the marriage, dividing marital property, and ordering Husband to pay Wife $1,500 per month in maintenance, retroactive to November 1, 2011. The interlocutory judgment was twice modified by the court. On April 16, 2016, the trial court entered its final judgment entry and dissolution of marriage dividing the remainder of the parties’ property and awarding maintenance in accordance with its interlocutory judgment. On appeal, the Supreme Court held (1) the need for and amount of maintenance was erroneously determined prior to the final disposition of property, but the error was not material because the final division of property did not make any significant change in the award of property to the parties; (2) the trial court did not misapply the law in determining the need for and amount of maintenance; but (3) a retroactive maintenance award is not authorized under Mo. Rev. Stat. 452.335. View "Archdekin v. Archdekin" on Justia Law
Bowers v. Bowers
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court dissolving the marriage of Jessica Bowers and Jason Bowers and designating Jason a third party in the dissolution proceeding for purposes of determining custody of Child. The circuit court awarded Jason sole legal and physical custody of Child, finding that it would not be in Child’s best interest for Jessica or Child’s biological father to have sole physical or legal custody. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court did not err in designating Jason as a third party in the dissolution action for the sole purpose of determining custody even where Jason was already a party to the dissolution; and (2) the circuit court’s award of third-party custody to Jason was not against the weight of the evidence. View "Bowers v. Bowers" on Justia Law
In re T.T.G.
The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s judgment terminating Mother’s parental rights to her twin girls and approving the adoption of the twins by their foster parents, holding that clear, cogent and convincing evidence supported the circuit court’s termination of parental rights under Mo. Rev. Stat. 211.447.5(2). On appeal, Mother challenged the sufficiency of the evidence to support the circuit court’s finding that grounds for termination under section 211.447 were satisfied. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Mother’s consent to the adoption was not needed where, as in this case, one of the grounds for termination under section 211.447 was satisfied by clear and convincing evidence. View "In re T.T.G." on Justia Law
S.S.S. v. C.V.S.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court terminating Father’s parental rights to Child and granting the petition for the adoption filed by Mother and Stepfather. The circuit court concluded that Father’s consent to the adoption was not required pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. 453.040(7) because Father willfully abandoned Child and willfully, substantially, and continuously neglected to provide Child with necessary care and protection. In affirming, the Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court’s conclusions regarding abandonment and neglect were not against the weight of the evidence; and (2) there was clear, cogent, and convincing evidence to support a statutory ground for terminating parental rights and support a finding that Father’s consent was not necessary for adoption. View "S.S.S. v. C.V.S." on Justia Law
Hanson v. Carroll
The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s judgment dismissing the petition of Grandparents for visitation and custody of their grandson, over whom Guardians had guardianship. The circuit court concluded that Grandparents failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Grandparents’ petition failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted because their petition did not set forth the requisite elements of grandparent visitation under Mo. Rev. Stat. 452.402; and (2) Grandparents failed to state a cause of action under Mo. Rev. Stat. 452.375.5(5)(a) for custody or visitation when letters of guardianship had been issued by the probate division. View "Hanson v. Carroll" on Justia Law
Landewee v. Landewee
Wife appealed the trial court’s judgment dissolving her marriage to Husband, challenging the court’s distribution of marital property. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court (1) equitably divided the marital assets and debts in a manner that is definite and capable of enforcement; (2) did not err in assigning no present value to Husband’s defined benefit pension plan through the Missouri Local Government Employees Retirement Benefit Plan; and (3) properly considered the factors in Mo. Rev. Stat. 452.330 and did not err in ordering Wife to pay Husband an equalization share. View "Landewee v. Landewee" on Justia Law
In re A.L.R.
When Child was not yet one year old, Grandfather filed a petition to establish a guardianship and conservatorship jointly in two cousins, alleging that Mother was unable or unfit to assume the duties of guardianship. After a hearing, the trial court found Mother unable and unfit to properly care for Child and ordered the issuance of letters of guardianship and conservatorship to the two cousins as co-guardians. Mother appealed, arguing that the trial court had utilized the wrong burden of proof and that due process requires proof of unfitness by clear and convincing evidence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Mo. Rev. Stat. 475.030.4 requires proof of inability or unfitness by a preponderance of the evidence, and Mother failed to preserve her argument that the statute is unconstitutional; (2) the trial court’s judgment ordering the issuance of letters of guardianship and conservatorship was supported by substantial evidence and was not against the weight of the evidence; and (3) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in overruling Mother’s motion for a continuance. View "In re A.L.R." on Justia Law
In re Interest of J.P.B.
A juvenile officer filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of Father, who was in prison, and Mother. After a trial, the circuit court entered a judgment terminating both parents’ parental rights. The court found that termination was in the best interest of Child and, with respect to Father, found three separate grounds for termination, including the ground that Father was unfit to be a party to the parent-child relationship pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. 211.447.5(6)(a). On appeal, Father challenged, among other things, the constitutional validity of section 211.447.5(6)(a). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) section 211.447.5(6)(a) is not unconstitutionally vague as applied to Father’s case; (2) the circuit court’s findings were supported by substantial evidence and were not against the weight of the evidence; and (3) Father’s challenges to the circuit court’s procedural rulings were unavailing. View "In re Interest of J.P.B." on Justia Law
Blanchette v. Blanchette
The circuit court registered Kelly Blanchette and Steven Blanchette’s foreign judgment of dissolution and two subsequent judgments modifying custody visitation and support, all issued in West Virginia. Kelly had asked the Missouri county court not to register the latest West Virginia modification but to grant her proposed modification instead. Steven responded by filing a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction under the Uniform Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). The circuit court registered all three West Virginia judgments and dismissed Kelly’s competing motion to modify on the grounds that West Virginia retained exclusive continuing jurisdiction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the West Virginia judgment of dissolution and both subsequent modifications were not void for lack of jurisdiction, and the Missouri court did not err in registering them in Missouri; and (2) Kelly received reasonable notice and an opportunity to be heard regarding the second custody modification sufficient to satisfy due process. View "Blanchette v. Blanchette" on Justia Law