Missouri Case Law: Dispute Resolution Procedure Required in Parenting Plan

Recent case: In Re The Matter of: C.H., by her Next Friend, C.H., and C.H., Individually, Petitioners/Respondents, v. C.W., Respondent/Appellant. Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED98749

Mother appeals from the trial court’s Findings, Conclusions, Order and Judgment of paternity, custody and support entered March 24, 2012, as amended.


The trial court properly analyzed statutory law and the best interests of the child in making the initial custody determination. Statutes use different factors to determine custody initially, and on relocation, and the circuit court employed correct analysis. Evidence that one parent used custody to enhance public assistance, instead of allowing more contact with other parent, supported an award of joint physical and legal custody with other parent designated for mailing address purposes. The trial court’s decision in awarding father residential custody of child was not against the weight of the evidence.

The trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Mother’s post-trial motion for change of judge for bias or improper personalization as Judge's comments, including references to personal experience and reference to "two fools" in another case, did not show bias. The trial court awarded Father the 2012 federal tax dependency exemption because he was entitled to it as the custodial parent.

Child's best interests, including avoiding excessive travel during school year, takes precedence over parent's desire to travel. Parenting plan's provisions for agreed departures from prescribed periods of custody did not render judgment indefinite.

There was no error in the parenting plan and custody arrangement entered by the trial court other than the failure to include a statutorily required dispute resolution plan, which the trial court is instructed to remedy on remand.