Missouri Revised Statutes

Chapter 452
Dissolution of Marriage, Divorce, Alimony and Separate Maintenance
Section 452.423

August 28, 2013


Guardian ad litem appointed, when, duties--disqualification, when--fees.

452.423. 1. In all proceedings for child custody or for dissolution of marriage or legal separation where custody, visitation, or support of a child is a contested issue, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem. Disqualification of a guardian ad litem shall be ordered in any legal proceeding only pursuant to this chapter, upon the filing of a written application by any party within ten days of appointment, or within ten days of August 28, 1998, if the appointment occurs prior to August 28, 1998. Each party shall be entitled to one disqualification of a guardian ad litem appointed under this subsection in each proceeding, except a party may be entitled to additional disqualifications of a guardian ad litem for good cause shown.

2. The court shall appoint a guardian ad litem in any proceeding in which child abuse or neglect is alleged.

3. The guardian ad litem shall:

(1) Be the legal representative of the child at the hearing, and may examine, cross-examine, subpoena witnesses and offer testimony;

(2) Prior to the hearing, conduct all necessary interviews with persons having contact with or knowledge of the child in order to ascertain the child's wishes, feelings, attachments and attitudes. If appropriate, the child should be interviewed;

(3) Request the juvenile officer to cause a petition to be filed in the juvenile division of the circuit court if the guardian ad litem believes the child alleged to be abused or neglected is in danger.

4. The appointing judge shall require the guardian ad litem to faithfully discharge such guardian ad litem's duties, and upon failure to do so shall discharge such guardian ad litem and appoint another. The judge in making appointments pursuant to this section shall give preference to persons who served as guardian ad litem for the child in the earlier proceeding, unless there is a reason on the record for not giving such preference.

5. The guardian ad litem shall be awarded a reasonable fee for such services to be set by the court. The court, in its discretion, may:

(1) Issue a direct payment order to the parties. If a party fails to comply with the court's direct payment order, the court may find such party to be in contempt of court; or

(2) Award such fees as a judgment to be paid by any party to the proceedings or from public funds. Such an award of guardian fees shall constitute a final judgment in favor of the guardian ad litem. Such final judgment shall be enforceable against the parties in accordance with chapter 513.

(L. 1988 H.B. 1272, et al., A.L. 1990 H.B. 1370, et al., A.L. 1996 S.B. 869, A.L. 1998 S.B. 910, A.L. 2004 H.B. 1453 merged with S.B. 1211, A.L. 2009 H.B. 481)

(2000) Section allowing party to custody or visitation proceeding to disqualify one guardian ad litem as matter of right is constitutional. Suffian v. Usher, 19 S.W.3d 130 (Mo.banc).


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