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Legal Information: Missouri

Restraining Orders

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Laws current as of January 1, 2024

How will the judge decide custody and visitation in a full order of protection?

If the judge makes a custody decision in a hearing for a full order of protection, the judge should assume that it is in the child’s best interests for the non-abusive parent to get custody. However, if there is evidence that both parents have been abusive to each other, the judge will not make this assumption. Instead, the judge can appoint a guardian ad litem or a court-appointed special advocate to represent the child and will consider all other factors that are normally considered in a custody case.1

When deciding visitation in a hearing for a full order of protection, the judge should give the non-custodial parent visitation rights unless the judge believes that one of the following is true:

  • visitation would endanger the child’s physical health;
  • visitation would negatively affect the child’s emotional development;
  • visitation would otherwise conflict with the best interests of the child; or
  • that it is not possible to have visitation and still be able to protect the custodial parent from further abuse.2

The judge may appoint a guardian ad litem or court-appointed special advocate to represent the minor child whenever the custodial parent alleges that visitation with the noncustodial parent will damage the minor child.2

Note: An order of protection cannot change the custody of children when an action for divorce has been filed or when a judge has previously awarded custody to a parent.3

1 MO ST § 455.050(5)
2 MO ST § 455.050(6)
3 MO ST § 455.060(6)