The 2022 Missouri General Assembly is currently in session. Senate Bill 857 contains several proposed changes in the family law area that may impact child custody, child support and transferring custody of a child. The law changes, if passed, will affect how lawyers will handle their client’s cases. The changes also have significant implications for cases involving third-party custody and minor guardianship cases.
One of the proposed child custody law changes involves third party custody. Third party custody refers to a situation where child custody is awarded to a person other than the parents. It is important to note that third party custody is different than a guardianship. In a child custody case where the court finds each parent to be unfit, unsuitable or unable to be a custodian of the child and finds that the best interest of the child is served by awarding another person custody of the child, this bill requires that the court provide certain notice to the child’s relatives within the third degree of consanguinity. This ensures that the relatives are aware that the child will be living with someone other than the parents. The bill also proposes that any person with whom the child has resided within in the last five years may intervene in the court case to seek third party custody, temporary custody or visitation.
The bill also proposes that no court order can be made denying a third-party contact with a child where that third party is not part of the court case unless the court finds that the third party may not be found and joined as party. This language would prevent a parent from obtaining a provision in a court order denying a grandparent, step-parent or any other person contact with a child without giving that person an opportunity to participate in the court proceeding.
Another proposed legislative change involved the relocation of a child. Under the current law, relocation encompasses situations where a parent of a child seeks to move from his or her current home to a new home. Sometimes the move may occur within the same school district. Other times, the move might be to a new city or even as far as a new state. The bill proposes to modify the definition of relocation of a child in a child custody arrangement to include the permanent transfer of custody of a child under a court order. This may include situations where a child is ordered to live with a grandparent, family member or any other person other than the parents. In cases where the transfer of custody is to a third party, the legal custodian will be required to notify the parents that a transfer of custody has occurred. The notice must be provided to the parents’ last known address. This means that the third party is not required to actually locate the parents. The notice to the parents must be in writing and must be sent at least sixty days in advance of the proposed transfer. The legislation does not require the notice to include the address where the child will be living. After August 28, 2022, every court order which modifies the custody of a child must include the addresses of the legal custodians and noncustodial parents of the child.
The Act also proposes that in any child custody proceeding, any person who fails to provide information regarding the address at which the child has lived for the last five years may be prosecuted. The Act provides that failure to disclose the child’s address is a class A misdemeanor. A class A misdemeanor carries a range of punishment up to one year in jail and up to a $2,000.00 fine. The bill further states that any violation shall be reported to the local prosecutor’s office.
Under the current law, any person may file a petition seeking to be appointed as the guardian of a minor child. Senate Bill 857 will prohibit the guardianship if a custody order already exists for the minor child. Petitions for minor guardianship will require information about where the child has resided for the last five years. A person seeking to be appointed as the guardian of a minor child must disclose, in their petition, where the child has resided for the last five years. Each parent with whom the child has lived for the last five years must be given notice of the guardianship proceeding so that each person has the right to intervene and seek guardianship of the child. Any guardianship which was granted without providing notice to each such person may be set aside.
Senate Bill 857 also proposes a law change that will affect the abatement of child support if passed. The Act proposes that a child support shall abate, in whole or in part, if the other parent has permanently transferred custody of the child to a third party without first obtaining court approval. This will include situations where the parents agreed, between themselves and without having gone to court, that the child will live with the other parent, a grandparent, or any other person.
Scott Hamblin is an experienced Jefferson City family law attorney. Part of Scott’s commitment to excellence in representing his clients includes keeping up with proposed legislative changes. When dealing with a complex child support or child custody issue, having a dedicated attorney that fully understand Missouri law can make a world of difference. Contact Scott A. Hamblin today for assistance with your case.
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A mother was seeking sole custody of her children following a divorce. The father refused to cooperate, leaving the client in a difficult situation as she felt as though her children didn’t have a voice. Scott recognized her need for an advocate and carefully listened to the children’s wishes, which conclusively helped the client achieve sole custody of her children and protected their best interests.
A client from Fulton was accused of drug possession as a result of a home search. While drug charges may potentially be filed as a Class C felony involving severe consequences, Scott was able to help the client receive a reduced sentence. Ultimately, the client faced significantly smaller penalties compared to the initial charges.
Scott assisted a defendant in a particularly challenging divorce case in which the other spouse was not cooperating. Scott was able to help the client avoid court through an aggressive legal approach to resolve all outstanding disagreements while maintaining the client’s long-term needs.
One client sought legal assistance after an altercation with another individual in Jefferson City. The client was arrested on assault charges despite allegedly not starting the fight. Since an arrest can lead to life-altering penalties such as being terminated from employment and serving jail time, Scott was able to build a solid legal defense in the client’s favor and argued in favor of the client’s innocence.
A grandparent sought visitation rights to his grandchild after the parent tried to block him. Scott takes grandparents’ rights very seriously, and so he devised a strategy to help the grandparent set a visitation schedule. Scott developed a strategy to show that the child’s best interests were fulfilled through the grandparent’s ability to visit the child, helping push the case towards a resolution in the client’s favor.
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I have been working with Mr. Hamblin for almost one and a half years and consider him to be one of the finest Lawyers I have ever done business with. Mr. Hamblin’s understanding of Missouri law is to say the least encyclopedic. His areas of expertise are broad and far-reaching. While working with Mr. Hamblin I found that he has an innate gift for what he does. His availability, presence in the courtroom, and demeanor with prosecutors, plaintiffs, witnesses and defendants are unparalleled in Missouri’s capital. Jefferson City is the epicenter of all legislation in this great state of Missouri,…
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I called Mr. Hamblin to represent my family member. When we went in to have a meeting, Mr. Hamblin was very honest said he felt that he could represent him and help with the matter that he had been charged with. I was so glad that I had contacted Mr. Hamblin on this matter, because he did just what he said that he would do. He did so in a timely and professional matter, and the expense was very minimal considering that this could have been a life-changing matter. I want to say a big Thank you Mr. Hamblin for…
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Mr. Hamblin succeeded in winning a child custody modification case for me that most lawyers I spoke with wouldn't even take on. Many told me that modifying a child custody agreement was nearly impossible. Due to the changes at my children's Father's house and the toll it was taking on their mental health, my children needed this modification and were begging for a change. Mr. Hamblin helped give my children a voice and get what they call "A Christmas Miracle" when we won full custody of them a few days before Christmas. I would recommend his counsel to anyone needing…
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