Attorney Fees Awarded on Defective Relocation Notice

Recent Case: Father was awarded sole custody and Mother ordered to pay attorney fees due to defective relocation notice.

Missouri’s relocation statute requires a parent who intends to relocate the child for a period of more than 90 days to provide the following information, in writing, at least 60 days before the proposed relocation:

(1) The intended new residence, including the specific address and mailing address, if known, and if not known, the city;

(2) The home telephone number of the new residence, if known;

(3) The date of the intended move or proposed relocation;

(4) A brief statement of the specific reasons for the proposed relocation of the child; and

(5) A proposal for a revised schedule of custody or visitation with the child. Your obligation to provide this information to each party continues as long as you or any other party by virtue of this order is entitled to custody of a child covered by this order. Your failure to obey the order of this court regarding the proposed relocation may result in further litigation to enforce such order, including contempt of court. In addition, your failure to notify a party of a relocation of the child may be considered in a proceeding to modify custody or visitation with the child. Reasonable costs and attorney fees may be assessed against you if you fail to give the required notice.".

Mother appeals the circuit court’s order modifying the dissolution of marriage judgment and awarding Father sole physical and legal custody of their child, child support, and attorney’s fees.

The Court found that (1)Mother did not comply with the relocation statute because mother’s written notice failed to reference the child relocating, when the child was to be relocated, or provide a proposal for a revised schedule of custody or visitation; (2) modifying the custody decree to sole custody to Father was appropriate, and that (3) awarding Father $4,200 in attorney’s fees was appropriate because the relocation statute allows for attorney’s fees where proper written notice is not given.

Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District - WD7640

Filed June 10, 2014

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