Legal Information: Missouri


May 9, 2022

Can a parent who committed domestic violence, child abuse, or sexual assault get custody or visitation?

A parent cannot get custody or unsupervised visitation if the parent, or any person who lives with that parent, has been convicted of one of the following crimes where the victim of the crime was a minor:

  1. rape in the 1st degree, 2nd degree;
  2. statutory rape;
  3. sodomy in the 1st degree, 2nd degree;
  4. statutory sodomy in the 1st degree, 2nd degree;
  5. child molestation in the 1st degree, 2nd degree;
  6. sexual misconduct involving a child;
  7. sexual abuse in the 1st degree, 2nd degree;
  8. sex with an animal - the requirement that the victim must be a minor clearly doesn’t apply to this crime;
  9. enticement of a child;
  10. abusing an individual through forced labor;
  11. human trafficking for the purposes of labor or for the purposes of sexual exploitation;
  12. sex trafficking of a child in the 2nd degree;
  13. contributing to human trafficking through the misuse of documents;
  14. trafficking in children;
  15. incest;
  16. abuse or neglect of a child that involves abusive head trauma;
  17. genital mutilation;
  18. child used in sexual performance;
  19. promoting sexual performance by a child.1

If the parent, or someone who lives with the parent, was convicted of any other crime listed in chapter 566 or chapter 568 or a similar crime in another state, where the victim was a minor, the judge can give the parent custody or visitation.2

The judge can deny a parent visitation if, after a hearing, the judge determinates that visitation would endanger the child’s physical health or harm his/her emotional development. The judge must consider evidence of domestic violence; however, the judge could grant visitation to the abusive party if the judge believes it is in the best interests of the child to do so.3 If the judge grants visitation, the judge must:

  1. consider the abusive parent’s history of causing anyone, or the likelihood of causing anyone:
    • physical harm or the fear of physical harm;
    • bodily injury or the fear of bodily injury;
    • assault or the fear of assault; and
  2. make sure that the visitation order will protect the abused parent, the child, and any other children living in the household from any further harm.4

If an abusive parent is granted restricted or supervised visitation, the parent must show proof of treatment and rehabilitation before the judge can change the visitation order to unsupervised visitation.5

1 MO ST §§ 452.375(3); 452.400(1)((2)(a))
2 MO ST §§ 452.375(3); 452.400(1)((2)(b))
3 MO ST § 452.400(1)
4 MO ST § 452.400(1)((3))
5 MO ST § 452.400(2)((3))

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