December 5, 2016 – Modification of spousal maintenance requires change in circumstances
Missouri statutes permit the modification of orders for spousal support upon the showing of changes in circumstances of a substantial and continuing nature that make the previous order unreasonable. Said changes can include changes in incomes or expenses of either party, and in this case the court reduced the spousal support award because the recipient was now entitled receive social security benefits. However, failure of the court to consider a certain type of income in the original action is not a change in circumstances in a later modification.
Full Article - http://familylaw.mwortmanlaw.com/2016/12/articles/assets-and-debts/modification-of-spousal-support-order-requires-substantial-and-continuing-change-in-circumstances/
November 2016 – New child support guidelines take effect July 1, 2017
The Supreme Court of Missouri has announced that as of July 1, 2017 a new child support chart, the Form 14, will take effect. There will also be changes in the rules governing child support calculations, and may result in changes in child support amounts for orders entered after that date.
Full Article - http://familylaw.mwortmanlaw.com/2016/11/articles/child-support/new-missouri-child-support-guidelines-and-amounts-to-take-effect-july-1-2017/
November 14, 2016 – Parenting plan must address holidays, voluntary reduction in income doesn't reduce child support.
Missouri law requires all decrees and judgments, when children are involved, to include a written parenting schedule. This schedule must also address holidays, and which parent will have the child, and for what amount of time, on major holidays. Also, the fact that a person who is obligated to pay child support voluntarily reduces his or her income, or fails to use their talents and abilities to obtain employment at their capacity, child support should not be reduced.
Full Article - http://familylaw.mwortmanlaw.com/2016/11/articles/divorce/failure-to-include-holiday-or-vacation-schedule-in-parenting-plan-is-trial-court-error-voluntary-reduction-in-income-does-not-support-reduction-in-child-support/
October 29, 2016 – Court must consider best interests of the child when placing or removing parenting restrictions
The best interest of the child is the determining factor in custody, including visitation. Modification requires a change in circumstances, or facts that were unknown when the previous order was entered. Deteriorating communication, drug manufacturing, and criminal charges can all be considered to support restrictions on visitation. However, the standard is the same in a later action seeking to remove the restrictions, the Court must make specific findings as to why the removal of restrictions is in the child's best interest.
Full Article - http://familylaw.mwortmanlaw.com/2016/10/articles/custody-and-visitation/restrictions-on-visitation-and-subsequent-removal-of-them-both-require-a-ruling-on-childs-best-interest/
August 28, 2016 – New Missouri custody law to maximize time with each parent
On August 28, 2016, amendments to Missouri's custody law took effect, seeking to maximize the amount of parenting time the each parent has with the child(ren). This was mistakenly interpreted by some to mean that a 50/50 parenting schedule was mandatory, but that is not technically stated in the law. Rather, the Court's are to do everything they can to ensure that each parent has as much time as possible with each parent. This might be a 50/50 schedule, or it might be something less. One thing is clear, however, that the trend is moving away from the "standard visitation" schedules of the past, and toward more liberal parenting time with both parents.
Full Article - http://familylaw.mwortmanlaw.com/2016/08/articles/family-law/child-custody-and-visitation/new-missouri-custody-law-seeks-to-maximize-time-with-each-parent-takes-effect-august-28/
July 19, 2016 – LAGERS pension treated as a division of a future asset
Missouri law require the division of marital property, and this includes retirement benefits from local government retirement systems. The defined benefit was treated as a future asset, with the present value set at zero, and as such did not constitute future spousal maintenance. Even when there is misconduct during the marriage, the court may still divide the marital estate equally.
Full Article http://familylaw.mwortmanlaw.com/2016/07/articles/family-law/property-debt-division/lagers-pension-divided-as-a-future-asset/
July 12, 2016 - Pot use does not, by itself, justify a termination of parental rights
Under Missouri law, a judgment for termination of parental rights must be supported by clear and convincing evidence of an inability to care for the child. Chemical dependency can be considered, but must meet the definition contained in the statute. In this case, marijuana use was not sufficient to show abuse and neglect, or failure to rectify a potentially dangerous situation. Father's failure to meet a condition of the safety plan did not show harm that would support failure to rectify.
Full Article http://familylaw.mwortmanlaw.com/2016/07/articles/family-law/child-custody-and-visitation/marijuana-use-not-grounds-for-termination-of-parental-rights/
May 24, 2016 – Spousal maintenance can be modified on changes in income
Missouri law allows the modification of spousal support upon the showing of a substantial and continuing change in circumstances. This change can be an involuntary decrease in income of the obligor, or an increase in income of the person receiving the support. Also, just because one party to the modification case earns less than the other, that does not, by itself, justify an award of attorney fees.
Full Article http://familylaw.mwortmanlaw.com/2016/05/articles/financial-issues/modification-of-maintenance-appropriate-on-voluntary-retirement-and-increase-in-resources-of-obligee-no-entitlement-to-attorney-fees-just-because-of-lesser-income/
April 2016 – Missouri law has 2 year statute of limitations to undo a child support order
Missouri statutes allow for a man that has been ordered to pay child support to undo, or "set aside" the order for support upon showing that he is not the biological father through a DNA test. However, there is a two year statute of limitations on this action, so if the action is not commenced within the 2 year period since the date of the order, the case will be filed out of time and dismissed for that reason. This applies even if fraud is committed against the alleged father relating to the claim of paternity.
Full Article - http://familylaw.mwortmanlaw.com/2016/05/articles/financial-issues/2-year-statute-of-limitations-applies-to-set-aside-a-paternity-and-child-support-order-even-if-fraud-exists/
March 15, 2016 – Spousal Support denied when sufficient property exists to meet needs
Missouri statutes authorize an award of spousal support (maintenance, alimony) who cannot meet their reasonable expenses through employment and property owned. If underemployed, but capable of working a full time job, then spousal support may be denied. Further, if a spouse is awarded sufficient property in the divorce to meet their needs, spousal support may be denied on those grounds as well.
Full Article http://familylaw.mwortmanlaw.com/2016/03/articles/family-law/property-debt-division/spousal-support-maintenance-denied-in-missouri-divorce/
February 23, 2016 – Child's refusal to visit parent is not a valid excuse
A Missouri child custody order must be followed, and it is the responsibility of the parents to ensure compliance. The wishes of a child not to visit a parent, or the child's refusal to do so, is not a defense and can result in a finding of Contempt of Court, particularly if the violating parent's actions, or inactions, contributed to the violation.
Full Article - http://familylaw.mwortmanlaw.com/2016/02/articles/family-law/child-custody-and-visitation/childs-refusal-to-visit-other-parent-no-excuse-to-violate-custody-order-parent-held-in-contempt/
February 3, 2016 – All financial resources considered for child support and spousal support
There is no financial resource that is exempt from consideration in the calculation of child support and spousal support. However, in the instance of lump sum gifts or inheritances, the Court must consider the level of control that the recipient has over the funds received. For example, if a family member pays expenses directly on behalf of the obligated spouse, with no involvement of the spouse personally, that should not be considered in the child support calculation
Full Article - http://familylaw.mwortmanlaw.com/2016/02/articles/assets-and-debts/all-financial-resources-can-be-considered-for-support-but-parent-must-have-some-level-of-control-over-gifts-and-inheritances-to-count-as-income/
December 11, 2015 – Spouse awarded additional stocks when stock split
When a dissolution of marriage judgment awards a spouse some of the marital stock of the other spouse, if that stock splits, the spouse is also awarded the additional stock due to the split, as those stocks are tied to the original award. No modification of the order is possible, or required, as property divisions are final and cannot be changed.
Full Article - http://familylaw.mwortmanlaw.com/2015/12/articles/family-law/property-debt-division/stock-split-is-marital-property-in-missouri-divorce/
November 7, 2015 – Guardian Ad Litem does not have to make a recommendation, custody findings are required, property division must be fair
There is no law that requires a guardian ad litem, an attorney appointed to represent the best interest of the child, to make a recommendation as to custody or the parenting plan to the Court. In a Judge tried case, the court must make specific findings under the 8 statutory custody factors. Also, the division of property does not have to be equal, but must be fair and equitable considering all factors including the source of funds that were used to purchase the property.
Full Article - http://familylaw.mwortmanlaw.com/2015/11/articles/family-law/child-custody-and-visitation/guardian-ad-litem-recommendation-not-binding-custody-findings-required-property-division-must-be-fair-not-necessarily-equal/
September 8, 2015 – Property division is not modifiable
When a Missouri divorce decree contains a division of property, and that the division is fair and equitable, that property division is final and cannot be modified by the parties at a later time. The legal concept of "res judicata" applies, which means that any and all issues relating to a property must be brought at the time of the divorce. Once the case is concluded, the opportunity to litigate the issue has passed.
Full Article http://familylaw.mwortmanlaw.com/2015/09/articles/family-law/property-debt-division/property-division-in-missouri-divorce-is-final-and-cannot-be-modified-once-final/
August 21, 2015 – Relocation of child must be made in good faith, change from joint to sole custody
If the non-custodial parent objects to the relocation of the principal residence of a child subject to a Missouri custody order, the relocating parent must show that the move is made in good faith, and in the best interests of the child. Also, in a situation where the parents cannot communicate or co-parent, and have a relationship that is so contentious that it damages the children, joint custody is not appropriate.
Full Article http://familylaw.mwortmanlaw.com/2015/08/articles/family-law/child-custody-and-visitation/relocation-approved-custody-changed-from-joint-custody-to-sole-custody/
May 23, 2015 – Protection order for stalking must meet statutory definition
In an adult abuse action, commonly known as an "ex parte" or "protection order" case, one of the bases for the entry of the order is for stalking. Stalking means a purposeful and repeated engagement of an unwanted course of conduct that causes fear of danger or physical harm, and the perceived fear must be reasonable. Failure to establish these elements requires dismissal.
Full Article http://familylaw.mwortmanlaw.com/2015/05/articles/spousal-abuse/conduct-not-to-level-of-stalking-to-support-protection-order/
May 4, 2015 – Domestic Partnership does not terminate spousal support order
Missouri statutes state that, upon remarriage of a former spouse that is receiving spousal support terminates the obligation by law, unless specifically stated otherwise in the order. Domestic partnership does not constitute remarriage under this definition.
Full Article http://familylaw.mwortmanlaw.com/2015/05/articles/financial-issues/domestic-partnership-does-not-constitute-marriage-for-termination-of-spousal-support-aka-alimony/
April 27, 2015 – Spousal Support order cannot leave negative budget to obligor
When determining the amount of a spousal support order, the Court must balance the needs of the spouse requesting the award with the ability of the other spouse to pay, while still being able to maintain his or her own reasonable expenses. A maintenance award that results in a negative budget on the part of the obligor is error.
Full Article http://familylaw.mwortmanlaw.com/2015/04/articles/uncategorized/no-spousal-support-alimony-award-that-leaves-paying-spouse-negative-income/
April 6, 2015 – Employer must comply with child support wage withholding order.
When a child support order is entered, either by the Court or the Family Support Division, if the order contains an employer wage withholding order, the employer is legally required to comply. The employer has a right to contest the order, but only based on a mistake in identity or the amount. The employer is not permitted to join the case to defend the support action.
Full Article http://familylaw.mwortmanlaw.com/2015/04/articles/financial-issues/employer-required-to-garnish-child-support/
February 22, 2015 – Attorney fees are not considered expenses in maintenance modification
To modify maintenance (spousal support) in Missouri, there must be a showing of a change in circumstances that is both substantial and continuing in nature. An increase in living expenses can meet the requirement, however attorney fees, especially fees spent on the modification case itself, do not qualify.
Full Article http://familylaw.mwortmanlaw.com/2015/02/articles/financial-issues/attorney-fee-expenses-cannot-be-considered-part-of-reasonable-monthly-expenses-in-maintenance-modification/