Search Warrant Requirement

Search Warrants Law enforcement can often conduct searches without a search warrant because there are exceptions to the Fourth Amendment’s search warrant requirement, like holes in swiss cheese.  Some of the exceptions to the search warrant requirement include situations where a person consents to a search, or the automobile exception where a motor vehicle is...
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Divorce: Third-Party Child Custody

Divorce: Third-Party Child Custody The Missouri Supreme Court recently issued an opinion in Bowers v. Bowers, No. SC965435, upholding a trial’s court decision to award child custody to a person in a divorce who was not the biological parent of the child. This type of child custody award is called third-party child custody. Missouri presumes...
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Adoption: Abandonment Includes Lack of Meaningful Contact

The Missouri Supreme Court issued an opinion this week affirming a decision by a circuit court terminating a father’s parental rights and granting a step-parent adoption. S.S.S., L.W.V. & M.T.S-V vs. C.V.S., SC96307. The Court found that father abandoned and neglected his child. The Court’s opinion was not unanimous. The opinion appears to depart from...
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Child Custody Law Change in Missouri

Earlier this month, Governor Nixon signed House Bill 1550 into law which provides for changes that will affect child custody related to divorce, legal separation, paternity and Judgments. This law had been referred to by some people as a “Father’s Rights’ Bill.” The law does not expressly afford fathers any more rights than mothers, but...
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Adoption and Abandonment

I recently spoke at a continuing legal education seminar sponsored by the Missouri Bar on the subject of adoptions. Adoptions are yet another mechanism of establishing custody for children, even though many people do not think of adoptions as child custody cases. There were numerous issues discussed regarding adoptions given that the audience was lawyers. This...
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Divorce & Child Custody Settlement: Saving Money

Clients have asked over the years what they can do to save money in their divorce or child custody cases. I always have suggestions. I am sharing my most common suggestion – which also happens to be common sense. The largest expense a client incurs in a divorce and/or child custody case is the attorney...
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Right to Remain Silent

Law enforcement officers provide a beneficial service to our community. I appreciate their service, especially when it involves responding to a call that I have made requesting assistance. However, I am writing today from a different perspective; I am writing as a lawyer practicing criminal law to educate about an individual’s right to remain silent...
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Child Custody Cases

As a lawyer practicing in the area of family law, I am intimately familiar with the various ways that child custody can be established because it’s part of what I do for a living. People may want or need to establish child custody for a variety of different reasons. Establishing child custody must be done...
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No Search Warrant Required?

No Search Warrant Required? Community Caretaker Exception to Fourth Amendment. I appeared in the United States Court of Appeals yesterday to argue an issue addressing the continuing erosion of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Fourth Amendment protects our rights as individuals to be free from an unlawful searches and seizures by...
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Traffic Stops

TRAFFIC STOP Yesterday I served as a lecturer for the Missouri Bar regarding a continuing legal education course regarding traffic stops for lawyers. Lawyers, like most professionals, are required to obtain so many hours each year of continuing education. The course material presented covered a variety of topics involving traffic stops ranging from an officer’s...
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Filing First for A Divorce

Is there an advantage to filing first for a divorce? This question comes up occasionally in divorce cases. The answer to the question, like most answers to legal questions,  depends on the circumstances of the divorcing couples. Venue (meaning the county where the divorce is heard) is initially established when the petition for dissolution of marriage...
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Your right to counsel and a criminal lawyer.

As we celebrate Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 from Great Britain, I want to take a moment to reflect on some of the laws, one in particular, which continues to exist and evolve. It wasn’t until 1791that the first...
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