Missouri Revised Statutes

Chapter 452
Dissolution of Marriage, Divorce, Alimony and Separate Maintenance
Section 452.400

August 28, 2014


Visitation rights, awarded when--history of domestic violence, consideration of--prohibited, when--modification of, when--supervised visitation defined--noncompliance with order, effect of--family access motions, procedure, penalty for violation--attorney fees and costs assessed, when.

452.400. 1. (1) A parent not granted custody of the child is entitled to reasonable visitation rights unless the court finds, after a hearing, that visitation would endanger the child's physical health or impair his or her emotional development. The court shall enter an order specifically detailing the visitation rights of the parent without physical custody rights to the child and any other children for whom such parent has custodial or visitation rights. In determining the granting of visitation rights, the court shall consider evidence of domestic violence. If the court finds that domestic violence has occurred, the court may find that granting visitation to the abusive party is in the best interests of the child.

(2) (a) The court shall not grant visitation to the parent not granted custody if such parent or any person residing with such parent has been found guilty of or pled guilty to any of the following offenses when a child was the victim:

a. A felony violation of section 566.030, 566.032, 566.040, 566.060, 566.062, 566.064, 566.067, 566.068, 566.070, 566.083, 566.090, 566.100, 566.111, 566.151, 566.203, 566.206, 566.209, 566.212, or 566.215;

b. A violation of section 568.020;

c. A violation of subdivision (2) of subsection 1 of section 568.060;

d. A violation of section 568.065;

e. A violation of section 568.080;

f. A violation of section 568.090; or

g. A violation of section 568.175.

(b) For all other violations of offenses in chapters 566 and 568 not specifically listed in paragraph (a) of this subdivision or for a violation of an offense committed in another state when a child is the victim that would be a violation of chapter 566 or 568 if committed in Missouri, the court may exercise its discretion in granting visitation to a parent not granted custody if such parent or any person residing with such parent has been found guilty of, or pled guilty to, any such offense.

(3) The court shall consider the parent's history of inflicting, or tendency to inflict, physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the fear of physical harm, bodily injury, or assault on other persons and shall grant visitation in a manner that best protects the child and the parent or other family or household member who is the victim of domestic violence, and any other children for whom the parent has custodial or visitation rights from any further harm.

(4) The court, if requested by a party, shall make specific findings of fact to show that the visitation arrangements made by the court best protect the child or the parent or other family or household member who is the victim of domestic violence, or any other child for whom the parent has custodial or visitation rights from any further harm.

2. (1) The court may modify an order granting or denying visitation rights whenever modification would serve the best interests of the child, but the court shall not restrict a parent's visitation rights unless it finds that the visitation would endanger the child's physical health or impair his or her emotional development.

(2) (a) In any proceeding modifying visitation rights, the court shall not grant unsupervised visitation to a parent if the parent or any person residing with such parent has been found guilty of or pled guilty to any of the following offenses when a child was the victim:

a. A felony violation of section 566.030, 566.032, 566.040, 566.060, 566.062, 566.064, 566.067, 566.068, 566.070, 566.083, 566.090, 566.100, 566.111, 566.151, 566.203, 566.206, 566.209, 566.212, or 566.215;

b. A violation of section 568.020;

c. A violation of subdivision (2) of subsection 1 of section 568.060;

d. A violation of section 568.065;

e. A violation of section 568.080;

f. A violation of section 568.090; or

g. A violation of section 568.175.

(b) For all other violations of offenses in chapters 566 and 568 not specifically listed in paragraph (a) of this subdivision or for a violation of an offense committed in another state when a child is the victim that would be a violation of chapter 566 or 568 if committed in Missouri, the division may exercise its discretion regarding the placement of a child taken into the custody of the state in which a parent or any person residing in the home has been found guilty of, or pled guilty to, any such offense.

(3) When a court restricts a parent's visitation rights or when a court orders supervised visitation because of allegations of abuse or domestic violence, a showing of proof of treatment and rehabilitation shall be made to the court before unsupervised visitation may be ordered. "Supervised visitation", as used in this section, is visitation which takes place in the presence of a responsible adult appointed by the court for the protection of the child.

3. The court shall mandate compliance with its order by all parties to the action, including parents, children and third parties. In the event of noncompliance, the aggrieved person may file a verified motion for contempt. If custody, visitation or third-party custody is denied or interfered with by a parent or third party without good cause, the aggrieved person may file a family access motion with the court stating the specific facts which constitute a violation of the judgment of dissolution, legal separation or judgment of paternity. The state courts administrator shall develop a simple form for pro se motions to the aggrieved person, which shall be provided to the person by the circuit clerk. Clerks, under the supervision of a circuit clerk, shall explain to aggrieved parties the procedures for filing the form. Notice of the fact that clerks will provide such assistance shall be conspicuously posted in the clerk's offices. The location of the office where the family access motion may be filed shall be conspicuously posted in the court building. The performance of duties described in this section shall not constitute the practice of law as defined in section 484.010. Such form for pro se motions shall not require the assistance of legal counsel to prepare and file. The cost of filing the motion shall be the standard court costs otherwise due for instituting a civil action in the circuit court.

4. Within five court days after the filing of the family access motion pursuant to subsection 3 of this section, the clerk of the court shall issue a summons pursuant to applicable state law, and applicable local or supreme court rules. A copy of the motion shall be personally served upon the respondent by personal process server as provided by law or by any sheriff. Such service shall be served at the earliest time and shall take priority over service in other civil actions, except those of an emergency nature or those filed pursuant to chapter 455. The motion shall contain the following statement in boldface type: "PURSUANT TO SECTION 452.400, RSMO, YOU ARE REQUIRED TO RESPOND TO THE CIRCUIT CLERK WITHIN TEN DAYS OF THE DATE OF SERVICE. FAILURE TO RESPOND TO THE CIRCUIT CLERK MAY RESULT IN THE FOLLOWING: (1) AN ORDER FOR A COMPENSATORY

PERIOD OF CUSTODY, VISITATION OR

THIRD-PARTY CUSTODY AT A TIME

CONVENIENT FOR THE AGGRIEVED

PARTY NOT LESS THAN THE PERIOD OF

TIME DENIED; (2) PARTICIPATION BY THE VIOLATOR IN

COUNSELING TO EDUCATE THE

VIOLATOR ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF

PROVIDING THE CHILD WITH A

CONTINUING AND MEANINGFUL

RELATIONSHIP WITH BOTH PARENTS; (3) ASSESSMENT OF A FINE OF UP TO FIVE

HUNDRED DOLLARS AGAINST THE

VIOLATOR; (4) REQUIRING THE VIOLATOR TO POST

BOND OR SECURITY TO ENSURE

FUTURE COMPLIANCE WITH THE

COURT'S ORDERS; (5) ORDERING THE VIOLATOR TO PAY THE

COST OF COUNSELING TO REESTABLISH

THE PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIP

BETWEEN THE AGGRIEVED PARTY AND

THE CHILD; AND (6) A JUDGMENT IN AN AMOUNT NOT LESS

THAN THE REASONABLE EXPENSES,

INCLUDING ATTORNEY'S FEES AND

COURT COSTS ACTUALLY INCURRED BY

THE AGGRIEVED PARTY AS A RESULT OF

THE DENIAL OF CUSTODY, VISITATION

OR THIRD-PARTY CUSTODY.".

5. If an alternative dispute resolution program is available pursuant to section 452.372, the clerk shall also provide information to all parties on the availability of any such services, and within fourteen days of the date of service, the court may schedule alternative dispute resolution.

6. Upon a finding by the court pursuant to a motion for a family access order or a motion for contempt that its order for custody, visitation or third-party custody has not been complied with, without good cause, the court shall order a remedy, which may include, but not be limited to:

(1) A compensatory period of visitation, custody or third-party custody at a time convenient for the aggrieved party not less than the period of time denied;

(2) Participation by the violator in counseling to educate the violator about the importance of providing the child with a continuing and meaningful relationship with both parents;

(3) Assessment of a fine of up to five hundred dollars against the violator payable to the aggrieved party;

(4) Requiring the violator to post bond or security to ensure future compliance with the court's access orders; and

(5) Ordering the violator to pay the cost of counseling to reestablish the parent-child relationship between the aggrieved party and the child.

7. The reasonable expenses incurred as a result of denial or interference with custody or visitation, including attorney's fees and costs of a proceeding to enforce visitation rights, custody or third-party custody, shall be assessed, if requested and for good cause, against the parent or party who unreasonably denies or interferes with visitation, custody or third-party custody. In addition, the court may utilize any and all powers relating to contempt conferred on it by law or rule of the Missouri supreme court.

8. Final disposition of a motion for a family access order filed pursuant to this section shall take place not more than sixty days after the service of such motion, unless waived by the parties or determined to be in the best interest of the child. Final disposition shall not include appellate review.

9. Motions filed pursuant to this section shall not be deemed an independent civil action from the original action pursuant to which the judgment or order sought to be enforced was entered.

(L. 1973 H.B. 315 ยง 21, A.L. 1977 S.B. 430, A.L. 1982 S.B. 468, A.L. 1983 S.B. 94, A.L. 1988 H.B. 1272, et al., A.L. 1989 H.B. 422, A.L. 1993 S.B. 180, A.L. 1995 S.B. 174, A.L. 1998 S.B. 910, A.L. 1999 S.B. 1, et al., A.L. 2004 H.B. 1453, A.L. 2005 H.B. 568, A.L. 2013 S.B. 100)


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