New Case: Objection to Court’s Statutory Authority to Decide Custody Waived if Not Properly Asserted

If you want to fight about whether a Missouri trial court has authority to  decide custody, you better  raise the objection early on.

“By participating in the Missouri dissolution case without raising any objection to the trial court’s authority to determine child custody until there was an allegation that she had not complied with one of the trial court’s rulings, Wife waived any right she might have had to contest the trial court’s authority to resolve the issue of child custody.”

In Schaeffer v. Schaeffer, No. SD33377 (Mo.App. S.D. Aug. 10, 2015), the  Court of Appeals extended Hightower v. Myers, 304 S.W.3d 727, 733 (Mo. banc 2010) to apply to the UCCJEA. In a nutshell, if a party to a case involving child custody fails to properly object to a trial court’s authority to decide the case, the party waives the ability to object later. In Schaeffer, Mom filed a counter-petition for dissolution of marriage, answered the petition filed by her spouse, participated by counsel in a hearing to decide temporary custody, and the court entered an order for temporary custody. Only after all that did Mom file a motion to dismiss based on a lack of statutory jurisdiction under the UCCJEA. The trial court denied the dismissal and decided the case; the Court of Appeals affirmed.

 

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