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Grandparent Visitation Rights Under Missouri Law

Missouri statutes provide for certain circumstances in which a Court may award grandparents reasonable, legally enforceable rights of visitation with their grandchild (or grandchildren).   To do so the Court must find that it is in the child’s best interests to grant such visitation to the grandparents.

The statute outlines four situations in which the Court may grant visitation rights to grandparents:

  1. If there are Divorced or Divorcing Parents – Whenever parents of the child file for a divorce, a grandparent has the right to intervene in a dissolution action solely on the issue of visitation rights. Grandparents also have the right to file a Motion to Modify a divorce decree when visitation with a grandchild is being denied to them after a divorce between the child’s parents has been finalized.
  2. If there is a Deceased Parent – If one of the parents of the child is deceased, and the surviving parent will not let the mother and/or father of the child’s deceased parent have reasonable visitation with the child, the parents of the deceased parent can file an action in Court seeking reasonable visitation rights with their grandchild.
  3. If the child has recently lived with Grandparents – If the child has resided with the Grandparent(s) for at least six (6) months within the twenty-four (24) month period immediately preceding the filing of the petition, grandparents can file a petition seeking visitation rights with that grandchild.
  4. If the grandparent is unreasonably denied visitation with the child for more than 3 months – Grandparents have to be denied visitation with their grandchild for more than 90 days to file a court proceeding under this subsection. However, if the parents of the child are married and living with the child, then grandparents may not file under this subsection of the statute.

The statute which provides for grandparent visitation rights creates a rebuttable presumption in all actions filed under this statute that when the parents of the child are legally married and living together with the child that they, the parents, know what is in their child’s best interests.  However, this presumption can be rebutted with proper and sufficient evidence.

The Court will examine all of the facts and circumstances of each case, including, in the Court’s discretion, the wishes of the child.

The statute also provides that the judge may appoint a guardian ad litem to act as an attorney for the child and look out for the child’s best interests in these proceedings.  The Court may also order home studies be done to assist the Court in its determination of what is in the child’s best interests.

The Court will refuse to grant grandparent visitation rights if the Court finds that such visitation shall endanger the child’s physical health or impair the child’s emotional development.

In the event the Court sees fit to grant the petitioning grandparent visitation rights, the judge may impose reasonable restrictions and conditions on those rights.

The primary consideration at all times, in any court proceeding for child custody or visitation, is the best interests of the child.  Grandparents’ visitation actions are no different.

If our office can be of any assistance, please call us at (636) 937-4994.



Family Law Cases and Other Legal Matters Can Be Adversely Effected By Social Media, Texting, & Email

If you are a regular user of Facebook and other types of social media and you are currently involved in a lawsuit of any kind or if you may in the future become embroiled in litigation, you should consider either closing your account and taking down all social media posts, or at the very least very carefully contemplating the possible effects each and every posting might have in any future litigation.

A social media post can have adverse effects in family law cases such as divorce or child custody and other sorts of litigation, and yes, even in your search for or retention of a job. It has become common practice to do internet searches for information on opposing parties, and often people that are involved in litigation will print out your social media posts for attempted use against you in a lawsuit.

For example, a social media post of your new car or boat, could alert a collection attorney who is trying to collect a debt from you of the existence of an asset that may be able to be seized when they try to collect on a judgment against you.

Postings that show you drunk frequently, or clearly show drug usage or paraphernalia or other illegal or undesirable behavior will often be used against you in a future child custody proceeding.

With regard to email and texting, these also must be used cautiously as you proceed through life. Remember that once you put anything into a written format such as this it is permanently there, and can be utilized by anyone as a statement made by you when it may adversely affect you in a lawsuit. There are more evidentiary problems presented to the attorney trying to use these sorts of communication in court, but often they can be overcome, and this evidence is often deemed admissible in one form or another.

Texting is an especially troublesome form of communication in litigation and family law matters such as divorce and child custody cases. This is because it is engaged in by the general public far too quickly. Receive a text, thumb type a response and instantly send a reply, all within a few seconds – without thought. Often angry exchanges take place in this fashion, threats are made, admissions are made, and curse words used. If you are angry or upset with the other party the best thing you can do is to use a 24 hour rule, walk away, sleep on it, and don’t respond until you have had time to compose your thoughts and cool down.

Whenever our office takes in a new divorce, child custody case or litigation matter of any sort, one of the first things we do is warn our client’s verbally about the dangers of social media, email and text communication, and we also mail out a letter to our new clients reminding them of the verbal discussion we have had with them about these matters. We also warn them to make sure they change passwords on any email account or social media account in the event that their passwords could possibly be known or guessed by the other party to any lawsuit or family law litigation.

Our office handles all sorts of family law matters including divorce, paternity cases, adoptions and child custody matters. We also handle bankruptcies, traffic, real estate law, contract law cases and other legal matters. Let us know if we can be of any assistance to you by calling us at (636) 937-4994.