Chapter 487 Family Courts

*487.010 - Family courts established, certain circuits — designation of family courts, certain circuits — designation of division — administrative judge — split venue, assignments — removal of judge.

Steven Groce, Attorney Advertisement

1.There is hereby created in the circuit court of the following judicial circuits of the state, a division or divisions to be designated as provided in sections 487.010 to 487.190, which shall be the family court:

(1)Circuit number seven, consisting of the county of Clay;

(2)Circuit number thirteen, consisting of Callaway and Boone;

(3)Circuit number sixteen, consisting of the county of Jackson;

(4)Circuit number twenty-one, consisting of the county of St. Louis;

(5)Circuit number twenty-two, consisting of the city of St. Louis;

(6)Circuit number thirty-one, consisting of the county of Greene; and

(7)Any other circuit which chooses, by local court rule, to have a family court as provided in sections 487.010 to 487.190.

2.The majority of the circuit judges and associate circuit judges en banc, in the circuit, may designate, by local court rule, a family court in a county in the circuit as provided in sections 487.010 to 487.190.

3.The presiding judge of each circuit where the circuit or a county in the circuit has a family court shall designate the division or divisions of the circuit court that shall be the family court.In those circuits with split venue, a division shall be designated in each venue.

4.In each circuit having more than one division designated as the family court, the presiding judge shall designate from the divisions so designated an administrative judge of the family court.

5.In any circuit with a county with split venue, there shall be at least one circuit judge assigned to the family court for each block of one hundred sixty thousand persons, or portion of such block, based upon the latest decennial national census.

6.Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter to the contrary, the judges of the court en banc may remove a judge from his duties as a family court judge and may assign a new judge to sit as the family court judge.

(L. 1993 H.B. 346 § 1, A.L. 1995 S.B. 347)

*This section was amended by H.B. 374 & 434, 2013.Due to a delayed effective date, both versions of this section are printed here.

487.180 - Transfer of equipment and property from juvenile court division to family court.

In any jurisdiction that has a family court, all equipment, property, facilities and funds of the juvenile court division as it exists on the day prior to August 28, 1993, shall be transferred to the family court.

(L. 1993 H.B. 346 § 14 subsec. 1)

487.080 - Jurisdiction.

Except as provided in section 487.130 and, notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, the family court shall have exclusive original jurisdiction to hear and determine the following matters:

(1)All actions or proceedings governed by chapter 452 including but not limited to dissolution of marriage, legal separation, separate maintenance, child custody and modification actions;

(2)Actions for annulment of marriage;

(3)Adoption actions and all actions and proceedings conducted pursuant to the provisions of chapter 453;

(4)Juvenile proceedings and all actions as provided for in chapter 211;

(5)Actions to establish the parent and child relationship, except actions to establish a person as an heir, devisee or trust beneficiary, and all actions provided for in chapter 210;

(6)Actions for determination of support duties and for enforcement of support, including actions under the uniform reciprocal enforcement of support act and actions provided for in chapter 454.Family court personnel shall not duplicate any functions performed by the family support division or local prosecuting attorney but shall cooperate with the family support division or the local prosecuting attorney;

(7)Adult abuse and child protection actions and all actions provided for in chapter 455;

(8)Change of name actions;

(9)Marriage license waiting period waivers under chapter 451.

(L. 1993 H.B. 346 § 6 subsec. 1, A.L. 2014 H.B. 1299 Revision)

(1998) Statute is unconstitutional to extent that it purports to limit family courts jurisdiction to hear any matter as a division of the circuit court.State ex rel. M.D.K. v. Dolan, 968 S.W.2d 740 (Mo.App.E.D.).

487.090 - Transfer of certain actions.

1.In criminal actions where the defendant and the victim are part of the same family unit, the judge of the division in which the criminal case is pending may only transfer such case to the family court if it is in the interests of justice to all parties, the rights of the defendant, and the interests of the family.Such transfer shall only be made when the judge of the division in which the criminal case is pending and the administrative judge of the family court approve such transfer.

2.No provision of subsection 1 of this section shall abridge any of the rights of a criminal defendant.

3.If a tort action is properly joined with any of the actions enumerated in section 487.080, the entire action shall not be within the jurisdiction of the family court but shall be assigned to and heard on a civil docket unless the parties stipulate and agree in writing that the matter may be retained in the family court.

4.The judge of the probate division may transfer a guardianship proceeding wherein a guardian of a minor is requested under chapter 475 to the family court.If transferred, the family court shall have jurisdiction over such proceeding including the appointment of a guardian or conservator, if requested.Provided, however, upon final judgment, the proceeding shall be transferred to the probate division for administration.After final judgment, the judge of the probate division shall have ongoing authority to transfer the proceeding to the family court for additional action as may be needed to further the interests of justice.

(L. 1993 H.B. 346 § 6 subsecs. 2 to 5, A.L. 1999 S.B. 1, et al.)

487.190 - Continuation of payment of salaries and benefits.

Any salary or benefits paid to an employee in a position of employment authorized by law outside the provisions of sections 487.010 to 487.190 shall continue to be paid in the same manner and from the same source as such personnel would have been paid if there had been no such transfer to the family court.

(L. 1993 H.B. 346 § 14 subsec. 2)

487.030 - Findings by commissioner become judgment of court, when, notice of findings — motion for hearing by judge, time limit, computation of time.

1.The findings and recommendations of the commissioner shall become the judgment of the court when adopted and confirmed by an order of a circuit or an associate circuit judge.Notice of the findings and recommendations of the commissioner, together with a statement relative to the right to file a motion for rehearing, shall be given to the parties whose case has been heard by the commissioner, and to any other person that the court may direct.This notice may be given at the hearing, or by mail or other service directed by the court.

2.The parties to a cause of action heard by a commissioner are entitled to file with the court a motion for a hearing by a judge of the family court either within fifteen days after receiving notice of the findings of the commissioner at the hearing, or within fifteen days after the mailing, or within fifteen days after other service directed by the court.In cases in which the family court has jurisdiction pursuant to subdivision (1) of subsection 1 of section 211.031, the juvenile officer, in addition to the parties listed above, is also entitled to file with the court a motion for a hearing by a judge of the family court within fifteen days after receiving notice of the findings of the commissioner.The judge shall promptly rule on such motion and, in his discretion, may either sustain or deny the motion, and if the motion is sustained, the judge shall set a date for a hearing.If the motion for rehearing is not ruled on within forty-five days after the motion is filed, it is denied for all purposes.In computing the forty-five days, no day shall be counted during which the court lacks power to act because of an order of a superior court.

(L. 1993 H.B. 346 § 2 subsecs. 3, 4, A.L. 1995 S.B. 174, A.L. 1996 H.B. 1619, A.L. 1998 S.B. 910)

(1998) A commissioner does not have judicial power to enter a final judgment.Slay v. Slay, 965 S.W.2d 845 (Mo.banc).

(1998) Failure to timely request review of circuit judge waives objection to commissioner's authority, findings and legal conclusions.conclusions.State ex rel. York v. Daugherty, 969 S.W.2d 223 (Mo.banc).

(1999) Default denial of motion for rehearing violates Article V, Section 18 of the Missouri Constitution and is unconstitutional. Fowler v. Fowler, 984 S.W.2d 508 (Mo.banc).

(2003) Procedure for requesting a hearing and provision for denying such motions if not ruled on within statutory time period is unconstitutional; provisions of Rule 130 supersede the statute. Dolan v. Dolan, 107 S.W.3d 438 (Mo.App.E.D.).

487.130 - Immediate need to hear case within jurisdiction, assignment of judge, conditions.

In the event that there is an immediate need to hear a case falling within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the family court and no family court judge or commissioner is available to hear the matter, then the presiding judge may assign any judge of the proper venue in each circuit to hear such matter, subject to split venue and other provisions of law.

(L. 1993 H.B. 346 § 9)

487.120 - Immediate need to hear case outside jurisdiction, assignment of judge, conditions.

In the event that there is an immediate need to hear a case falling outside the exclusive original jurisdiction of the family court, and no other judge of the circuit is available to hear the matter, the presiding judge may assign a judge of the family court division of the proper venue to hear such matter, subject to split venue and other provisions of law.

(L. 1993 H.B. 346 § 8)

487.020 - Appointment of commissioners, juvenile commissioners, automatic appointment, terms — family court commissioner, compensation, certain circuits — qualifications, compensation, retirement.

1.In each circuit or a county having a family court, a majority of the circuit and associate circuit judges en banc, in the circuit, may appoint commissioners, subject to appropriations, to hear family court cases and make findings as provided for in sections 487.010 to 487.190.Any person serving as a commissioner of the juvenile division of the circuit court on August 28, 1993, shall become a commissioner of the family court.In each circuit or a county therein having a family court, a majority of the circuit and associate circuit judges en banc may appoint, in addition to those commissioners serving as commissioners of the juvenile division and becoming commissioners of the family court pursuant to the provisions of sections 487.020 to 487.040, no more than three additional commissioners to hear family court cases and make findings and recommendations as provided in sections 487.010 to 487.190.The number of additional commissioners added as a result of the provisions of sections 487.010 to 487.190 may be appointed only to the extent that the state is reimbursed for the salaries of the commissioners as provided in sections 487.010 to 487.190 or by federal or county funds or by gifts or grants made for such purposes.A commissioner shall be appointed for a term of four years.Commissioners appointed pursuant to sections 487.020 to 487.040 shall serve in addition to circuit judges, associate circuit court judges and commissioners authorized to hear actions classified under section 487.080.

2.The circuit courts in the eleventh judicial circuit, the thirteenth judicial circuit, and the thirty-first judicial circuit may, in substitution of each family court commissioner currently appointed pursuant to this section whose salary is reimbursable, appoint a family court commissioner whose compensation shall be payable by the state without necessity of reimbursement.The provisions of this subsection shall not be construed to allow appointment of a family court commissioner in the eleventh judicial circuit in addition to the number of such family court commissioners holding office in the eleventh judicial circuit as of January 1, 1999.The provisions of this subsection shall not be construed to allow appointment of a family court commissioner in the thirteenth judicial circuit or the thirty-first judicial circuit in addition to the number of such family court commissioners holding office in such circuits as of January 1, 2013.The appointment of the state-paid commissioner shall be subject to appropriations for such purpose.

3.Each commissioner of the family court shall possess the same qualifications as a circuit judge.The compensation and retirement benefits of each commissioner shall be the same as that of an associate circuit judge, payable in the same manner and from the same source as that of an associate circuit judge.

(L. 1993 H.B. 346 § 2 subsecs. 1, 2, A.L. 1995 S.B. 347, A.L. 1999 S.B. 1, et al., A.L. 2013 H.B. 374 & 434)

487.200 - Medication-assisted treatment, not prohibited, when.

1.As used in this section, "medication-assisted treatment" means the use of pharmacological medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a whole patient approach to the treatment of substance use disorders.

2.If a family court participant requires treatment for opioid or other substance misuse or dependence, a family court shall not prohibit such participant from participating in and receiving medication-assisted treatment under the care of a physician licensed in this state to practice medicine.A family court participant shall not be required to refrain from using medication-assisted treatment as a term or condition of successful completion of the family court program.

3.A family court participant assigned to a treatment program for opioid or other substance misuse or dependence shall not be in violation of the terms or conditions of the family court on the basis of his or her participation in medication-assisted treatment under the care of a physician licensed in this state to practice medicine.

(L. 2017 S.B. 501)

487.100 - Mediation, counseling, home study may be recommended — costs.

In any family court case the judge or commissioner may, on the judge's or commissioner's own motion or, at the request of a party, order or recommend mediation, counseling or a home study.The costs of such mediation, counseling or home study may be assessed against any party at any time and may be taxed as court costs paid by the party against whom costs are taxed or may be paid from the family services and justice fund established pursuant to section 487.170*.The amount assessed for such mediation, counseling, or home study shall be such amount as the court determines to be reasonable under the circumstances.The party's ability to pay shall be a consideration when such costs are assessed.

(L. 1993 H.B. 346 § 6 subsec. 6, A.L. 2004 H.B. 1453)

*Transferred 2000; now 488.2300

487.110 - Uniform child custody jurisdiction act, application.

The uniform child custody jurisdiction act, as enacted in sections 452.440 to 452.550, shall apply to all custody proceedings in the family court.

(L. 1993 H.B. 346 § 7)

487.140 - Cooperative agreements with department of social services.

For the purpose of obtaining the maximum allowable federal financial participation funds, the family court of each circuit or a county therein with the approval of the circuit and associate circuit judges en banc may enter into a cooperative agreement with the department of social services.

(L. 1993 H.B. 346 § 10, A.L. 1995 S.B. 347)

487.040 - Cases may be heard by commissioner — hearings, where conducted — split venue, assignment of commissioners.

1.The administrative judge of the family court, or in circuits or counties which have a family court pursuant to subsection 2 of section 487.010 having one judge sitting as family court judge, the judge of the family court may direct that any case or class of cases may be heard by the commissioner in the manner provided for hearing of cases by law.

2.The circuit and associate circuit judges en banc may designate by order the location within the geographical jurisdiction of the court where the commissioners shall conduct hearings, provided, in circuits with split venue, one or more commissioners shall be assigned and shall conduct hearings in each venue with the exception of proceedings brought pursuant to the provisions of chapter 210 or chapter 211.

(L. 1993 H.B. 346 § 2 subsecs. 5, 6, A.L. 1995 S.B. 347)

487.050 - Judges and commissioners, qualifications — reviewability — removal, grounds — terms.

1.To the extent feasible, judges designated as family court judges and the commissioners appointed under sections 487.020 to 487.040 shall be those who:

(1)Desire to be so assigned;

(2)Have the temperament necessary to deal properly with cases that come before the family court;

(3)Have completed, or within six months after designation or appointment complete, a course of training in family law;

(4)Attend annual continuing education courses to further training in family issues and law.

2.The qualifications contained in this section of any person designated as family court judge or appointed commissioner shall be reviewable within the superintending control vested in the supreme court and the districts of the court of appeals by Article V, Section 4 of the Constitution of Missouri.

3.The commissioners shall act at all times in a manner befitting a member of the bench.The commissioner shall devote full time to the duties of commissioner and shall not engage in the private practice of law.

4.A commissioner may be removed from office during a term by a majority of the circuit and associate circuit judges en banc upon proof at a hearing before such judges of crime, misconduct, habitual drunkenness, willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, incompetency or any offense involving moral turpitude or oppression in office or unsatisfactory performance of duties.

5.Judges designated as family court judges shall serve in such capacity for a term of four years unless such judge's term is either extended at such family court judge's option or shortened with the agreement of the family court judge and the presiding judge.

(L. 1993 H.B. 346 § 3)

487.150 - Family court coordinating committee, duties — members.

The administrative judge of the family court, or if none, the presiding judge of each circuit having a family court division or each circuit having a family court division in a county in the circuit may appoint a family court coordinating committee, which shall meet at least quarterly and shall serve as a liaison for the professions, agencies and organizations which utilize or provide services connected with the family court.The committee may be comprised of the following:

(1)A family court judge, commissioner and administrator;

(2)Two members of the Missouri Bar who are actively engaged in the practice of family law;

(3)A representative from the children's division;

(4)A representative from the division of youth services;

(5)Two professional counselors, psychologists or psychiatrists;

(6)A representative from a local educational institution;

(7)A representative from the general public;

(8)A representative from an organized grandparents' association; and

(9)A representative from a domestic violence coalition.

(L. 1993 H.B. 346 § 11, A.L. 1995 S.B. 347, A.L. 2014 H.B. 1299 Revision)

487.070 - Proceedings — confidentiality.

Proceedings in the family court may be in camera as directed by a judge of the family court.However, proceedings in the family court for cases brought under sections 210.817 to 210.852 shall continue to be conducted pursuant to the provisions of sections 210.817 to 210.852, and proceedings under chapter 211 shall continue to be confidential as provided in chapter 211.

(L. 1993 H.B. 346 § 5)

487.160 - Laws relating to juvenile courts, include family court, when.

Any reference in the statutory laws of this state to the juvenile division of the circuit court shall be deemed to include the family court when involving matters previously within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the juvenile division if such inclusion is not in conflict with the provisions of sections 487.010 to 487.190.

(L. 1993 H.B. 346 § 12)

487.060 - Family court administrator — duties — compensation.

1.In each circuit having a family court, on approval of the majority of the circuit judges and associate circuit judges en banc, the court may employ a person to perform the functions of a family court administrator.

2.The family court administrator shall serve the function of administering the support services of the family court, provided the responsibilities and duties of the circuit clerks and the court administrators shall continue to be performed by the circuit clerk or court administrator currently vested with those responsibilities and duties.The duties of the family court administrator may include the following:

(1)To contract for or employ other personnel, including clinical psychologists, social workers, mediators, support enforcement staff and a legal staff;

(2)To oversee, supervise and administer the services of the family court, such as the ordering and preparation of home studies, mediation services, psychological services and counseling;

(3)To enter into cooperative agreements with other circuits for various court services and facilities, with the prior approval of the circuit and associate circuit judges en banc in the respective circuits.

This section shall allow family court administrators, where it is efficient, to join together with other circuits that have a family court to contract for common facilities, such as detention facilities or other services for the efficient operation of the family court.

3.The salaries and benefits of personnel transferred into the family court pursuant to the provisions of sections 487.180 and 487.190 shall be funded according to the provisions of sections 487.180 and 487.190.