Justia Family Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Missouri Supreme Court
In re B.H.
Son was removed from Mother's custody after Mother was arrested for soliciting herself for prostitution. The trial court terminated Mother's parental rights after finding that (1) Mother had abused or neglected Son by clear and convincing evidence and (2) termination of Mother's parental rights was in the best interest of Son. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that (1) the trial court articulated the correct burden of proof for the evidence it found supporting the termination, (2) the burden of proof articulated by the trial court was constitutional and did not violate Mother's due process rights, and (3) the trial court did not err in its consideration of Mother's mental capacity in relation to future harm.
Lindhorst v. Lindhorst
Tonya Lindhorst and Eric Lindhorst divorced in 1998. The dissolution decree ordered Eric to pay $1,100 monthly in child support and $1,000 monthly in maintenance. In 2003, Tonya began receiving Social Security disability benefits. In 2008, both parties filed motions to modify the decree. The trial court reduced Eric's maintenance obligation but increased his child support obligation and did not make the modified child support award retroactive to the date that Tonya served her motion to modify. Tonya appealed. At issue was whether the trial court erred in imputing income to Tonya from part-time employment while assuming the continued receipt of Social Security disability benefits. The Supreme Court held (1) the level of work and income imputed to Tonya would disqualify her from Social Security benefits and therefore the trial court erred in considering both the imputed income and Tanya's Social Security disability benefit as a basis for reducing Eric's maintenance obligation; and (2) because Tonya demonstrated the trial court abused its discretion in its modification of the child support award, that part of the judgment declining to make the increased child support obligation retroactive is reversed. Remanded.
Carothers v. Carothers
Pamela Carothers was found in contempt of court for failing to satisfy a support judgment against her. She was not represented by counsel, and no waiver of her right to counsel appeared in the record. Although she timely filed her notice of appeal, her appeal was dismissed. The appellate court reversed the trial courtâs decision, and the case was then transferred to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court found that the judgment of contempt was in error because Mrs. Carothers did not waiver her right to counsel. The Court reversed the lower courtâs judgment and set aside Mrs. Carothersâ warrant of commitment. The Court remanded the case for further proceedings.