Missouri Family Court

This court has exclusive, original jurisdiction in most Missouri family law matters involving marriage, child custody, abortion, adult abuse and neglect, and other related law matters.

Read on to learn more about the specific situations handled by the court and how the courts vary by location. For more information or specific family law court questions, reach out to Masterson Law, your trusted attorney.

Family Court Records: Main Information

In 1961, the State Legislature passed a law called the Public Records Law. When the legislature enacted Public Records Law, it declared that access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state.

This law was permitted with the most recent changes in 2006 and ensures the disclosure of court documents, including court records. Court records can be accessed by contacting your local circuit court.

The Court in Missouri: Circuit Courts

The court covers a wide range of related matters, which are handled by local circuit courts. Circuit Courts have jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases and are generally organized into divisions based on case types, such as Family Court, Municipal Court, Juvenile Court, Probate Court, Small Claims Court, Associate Circuit, and Traffic Court.

Kansas City, MO, is located in Jackson County, which is part of the 16th Judicial Circuit Court.


Family Law Court in Kansas City, Missouri

In Jackson County, Missouri, there are three locations where Missouri family law matters may be heard. One location is downtown in Kansas City, MO. The Family Justice Center, which handles juvenile matters, is also located in Kansas City. Another location is in Independence, MO, but families residing in Kansas City may still be called to this court.


The Court in Kansas City, Missouri

In Kansas City, family law matters such as divorce, paternity, contempt, motions to modify, child custody, and related cases are often heard at the downtown and Independence locations. Juvenile matters are heard at the Justice Center.

In MO, court matters are handled at the county level by the circuit courts.


Jackson County, MO Family Court

In Jackson County, Missouri, court matters are handled by the 16th Judicial Circuit Court. According to their website, the 16th Circuit Court’s Court Services “operates programs to meet the diverse needs of youth, families, and the community. 

Through these programs, Court personnel aim to provide youth and families with new ways to cope, experience their potential, and assist youth in abstaining from delinquent behavior.

Habilitation and rehabilitative services include: clear expectations and provide assistance in developing abilities to make good choices; recognize and experience individual potential; and opportunities to develop academic, vocational, and life skills.”

These services are provided in addition to standard family law court services.


Judicial Circuit Clay County Family Court

Clay County court services are handled by the 7th Judicial Circuit Court. The Clay County family courthouse is located in Liberty, MO. All family law matters are typically assigned and heard in This Court.


Family Court St Louis County Missouri

St. Louis County, MO, is serviced by the 21st Judicial Circuit. This court has been serving the citizens of St. Louis County since 1993. Typically, family law cases involving child custody and other family matters and functions under the principle of “one family – one Judge” are being heard in this family court.

This means that all family law matters involving a specific family are assigned to the Judge or Commissioner when possible, bringing continuity and consistency to the judicial procedure.


St Louis County Family Court

In addition to hearing family law cases, the St. Louis Court provides numerous support services for those coming to this court’s attention. These services include individual and group counseling services, parent education courses, probationary services, and restitution programs.

Families residing in St. Louis City, MO, are serviced by the 22nd Circuit Court. The Family Court legislation that was enacted after the 1993 Legislative Session provides for jurisdiction over legal separations, all divorce actions, child custody, adoptions, juvenile proceedings, adult abuse, and changes of title.

If you need family law assistance, legal advice, or have questions with any of these court matters, reach out to experienced custody lawyers at Masterson Law. Our expert attorneys are there to help you.

Missouri Child Support Program

Missouri’s Child Support program began under an executive order in 1977, and on August 15, 1986, a statute established what we know today as the Missouri Child Support laws. Child Services has the duty of managing the Child Support program pursuant to Title IV-D of the federal Social Security Act and Chapter 454 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri.

The responsibilities of this support program include establishing paternity, distributing support collections, reviewing and initiating modification of support orders, establishing child and medical support orders, and monitoring and enforcing compliance with the support orders.

Child Service clients come from several resources. When a parent receives Temporary Assistance or MO HealthNet advantages, a referral is made to the Child Support program. Child Support groups on behalf of households receiving public assistance eliminate dependence on assistance programs but reimburse the jurisdiction for the benefits provided to these families.

In addition to the aforementioned court, Missouri provides a number of services to families. This includes temporary assistance programs like food stamps, children’s health insurance programs, child support enforcement, adoption, and foster care services. 

The Family Support Division in Missouri supports a mission to lead the nation in building the capacity of individuals, families, and communities to secure and sustain healthy, safe and productive lives.

Going Through a Divorce in Missouri

A divorce can be overwhelming, stressful, as well as expensive for everyone involved, especially if there are child custody issues. Couples do not need to have a specific reason for their separation (like adultery or abuse).

If couples agree on all matters, and the court only has to process the paperwork and finalize the process, that is called an uncontested divorce. On the other hand, when couples can’t agree on issues like custody of their children or division of assets, that is a contested divorce. This type requires more time to resolve all the issues the couple does not agree on, making the whole process more expensive.

To get legally divorced in Missouri, you have to file a petition in court. But, you can participate in mediation or use a collaborative process that will allow you to reach an agreement on all issues. If you need legal assistance during divorce or information on any other family law, feel free to contact our expert attorneys at Masterson law firm.

Missouri Child Custody Laws

Child custody becomes the most attention-taking topic during divorce or cases of separation. Missouri Family Court has justified laws to help married and unmarried couples settle the child custody matters easily according to the law.

Here are some important things that you need to know about Missouri Child Custody Laws.


Paternity Acknowledgement

After the child’s birth, parents have to acknowledge the paternity by signing an affidavit either voluntarily or by court orders. The birth certificate will also have the names and signs of both parents. This is the easiest way to acknowledge the paternity of a child.


Rights of Unwed Fathers in Missouri Child Custody Law

Under Missouri Family Law, unwed fathers with established paternity of their child can have the same rights as of marriage. They can take responsibility for their child and have permission to visit and support their kid. They can also file a petition of custody in court.


Establish Paternity by Court Action

When things go wrong, for example, if any of the parents refuse to willingly sign the affidavit, then they can approach the court for paternity establishment. In case if any partner refuses to be the parent, for example, the father denies his relationship with the kid, the court will then schedule DNA tests to determine their relationship with the kid and vice versa.

Similarly, unwed fathers can establish paternity with the help of court and law. The judges will consider evidence to determine the biological connection of the father and the child. Once the father gains his paternity established, then he will have the right to support and take part in the decision-making of his child.


Filing Child Custody Petition in Missouri

Sometimes it happens that the child’s paternity has been established but not the custody. In this situation, both parents can file the petition for custody after establishing paternity. This petition will define and justify the rights of both parents about the child’s custody and parenting plan, including visitation rights and frequency, development, and support obligations.


What rights does a father have in Missouri?

According to Missouri Family Law, a father has the following rights on their child.

  • Legal obligations for child care.
  • Financial Support
  • Legal rights to have Child Custody
  • Rights to Visit and meet their child.
  • Make decisions for their development and future.

Although these rights may differ if the mother has full custody of her child.

When Should You Hire a Lawyer For Divorce Proceedings?

When you start divorce proceedings, you shouldn’t wait long to hire a lawyer. Waiting for a long time may result in the destruction of evidence or the creation of negative evidence. If you have children, complicated financial dealings, or other issues – that may complicate the divorce as well.

Choose a trusted and highly-rated law firm with experience in different family law cases that can be there for you during tough times. An experienced attorney can help you with filing the petition, providing you with all resources to get justice in the court. Or, if things go wrong, an attorney can also help you file a motion for contempt against the disobedient party.


Schedule a FREE Consultation

Masterson Law provides aggressive and compassionate help during your divorce case or other family law legal issues. Our firm has expert attorneys who serve our clients throughout the city.

Summer Masterson-Goethals has made a career of providing tenacious advocacy for her clients during a divorce in Missouri. Sher directly handles all marriage cases and will be your point of contact and partner throughout the entire process.

Summer Masterson-Goethals can help you navigate all these decisions whenever you are mentally ready to proceed. Contact Masterson Law for free case consultation or any information you may need during your divorce proceedings.

For more questions on family law in Missouri, give a phone call or fill our form to connect with an expert attorney.


Summer Masterson-Goethals
Consumer and family lawyer, former legal aid attorney and Missouri Bar Leadership Academy member, Springfield Business Journal 40 under 40 Honoree. Site Map

Masterson Law
3030 E. Battlefield, Suite A
Springfield, MO 65804
(417) 522-1280