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Gillespie Wins Grandparent Visitation and Custody Case

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Gillespie Wins Grandparent Visitation and Custody Case in Missouri Court of Appeals

Larry Gillespie prevailed in the Missouri Court of Appeals, convincing the Court to allow a motion for visitation and custody by grandparents to proceed to trial.

On November 22, 2016, the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, held that the Appellants, Grandparents, stated a claim under Section 452.375.5, R.S.Mo., and had standing to bring a petition for visitation under that very same statute.

 

In response to the contention that the grandparents failed to state a claim under Section 452.375.5, R.S.Mo., for visitation and custody by neglecting to allege that the parents were unfit, Judge Gaertner wrote “a plaintiff seeking third-party custody or visitation is not required to allege the parents are unfit.”  Rather, Section 452.375.5, R.S.Mo., provides the court shall consider third-party custody or visitation “when the court finds that each parent is unfit, unsuitable, or unable to be a custodian, or the welfare of the child requires, and it is in the best interest of the child.”  (Emphasis added).

The Court also disagreed with Respondents’ argument that a grandparent cannot seek visitation or custody under Section 452.375.5, R.S.Mo., and is limited to pursue a claim for custody or visitation of a grandchild under Section 452.402, R.S.Mo.  The Court remarked that “[Section 452.375.5, R.S.Mo.] expressly states that a court may award ‘any…person’ third-party custody and visitation, if it is in the best interest of the child.”  It also ruled “[t]he foremost concern of this Court is always the best interest of the child, and we decline to interpret Missouri statutes in a manner that limits the court’s ability to determine what it is in the best interest of the minor child.”

The case is Hanson v. Carroll, ED103530.  A copy of the opinion can be viewed here: Hanson-v.-Carroll---Majority-Signed-Opinion.pdf

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Guest Sunday, 25 June 2017