Parents who are involved in a child custody dispute in the context of a divorce or paternity action need to be proactive in seeking acceptable arrangements and terms in the parenting plan because Missouri family courts are strict about ensuring compliance with final orders. When parents do not understand their rights and responsibilities, they can make mistakes that have a devastating impact on your parental relationship. One of the most important ways to obtain a parenting plan where critical terms and conditions are not inadvertently omitted and provisions that are included are acceptable is to retain an experienced Missouri family law attorney.
A recent decision in Allen v. Gatewood provides an example of the way that minor non-compliance with a court order in a child custody case can have a significant impact on post-judgment child custody orders. Missouri law imposes a duty on parents to notify the other parent of an address change before moving. This provision is presumably included in every Missouri child custody order. It is also a common practice in Missouri to include this provision in every parenting plan. The upshot of this requirement is that parents who were parties to a final judgment in a divorce or paternity case must provide notice of a move regardless of which parent is the custodial parent. Further, the requirement applies even if the person is only moving into the house next door.
In Allen, Missouri’s Western Appellate Court considered compliance with this provision in a case where dad was challenging the move by mom (the custodial parent), but dad was two days late in complying with the statute in bringing the challenge. Mom moved 27 miles from her prior home and did provide notice to dad, but the address on the notice was inaccurate. The notice also provided significant misinformation in terms of the size and nature of the residence.
Despite the fact that dad was late in challenging the move, the court sided with dad because mom failed to “strictly comply” with the notice provision of the relocation statute. Because of this failure to strictly comply with the requirements of the statute, the court ruled that mom could not complain about dad’s objection being brought outside the timing requirements of the statute. The Allen court also took issue with mom’s failure to comply with the child custody judgment requiring that dad be kept involved in significant school decisions.
The takeaway from this case is that parents need to make sure they understand the provisions in their parenting plan and custody order. Strict compliance will be required if you are moving, so you should seek legal advice if you have questions. When parents fail to comply with final judgment in a custody order, the result can be a change in timeshare arrangements or other terms in the parenting plan that are unfavorable to the moving parent.
If you have questions about child custody or parenting plans, we welcome the opportunity to talk to you and answer your questions. We invite you to call the Kansas Family Law Attorney at the Weber Law Office at (316) 265-7802 or to submit an inquiry form through this website to schedule your initial consultation.