The family law system in the State of Missouri has recently seen a significant shift in the potential success of claims of third parties seeking custody rights with minor children. This shift was further defined by a recent decision from the Eastern District of the Missouri Court of Appeals.
In the context of custody litigation in Missouri, a “Third-Party” most often refers to an individual who is not a biological or adoptive parent who is seeking specific custody rights with a minor child. Often this individual has a biological or marital relationship to the child, such as a grandparent, aunt or uncle. However, a biological relationship with a child is not a requirement for a “Third-Party” seeking custody rights.
Section 452.375 of our Missouri Statutes provide in part with regard to Third Party custody or visitation, as follows: