In 2016, new child custody legislation was passed in Missouri known as HB1550. This new law went a long way toward making shared parenting the norm in Missouri. However, in 2018, new legislation was introduced in Missouri to move the needle even further. This new legislation is known as HB1667 in the Missouri House of Representatives (and SB14 in the Missouri Senate).
HB1667 was proposed because many believed that courts were not really implementing the changes in HB1550. Some of the key changes in HB1550 was to indicate that custody decisions could not be made based on the gender of the parents. In other words, courts were not allowed to simply give the mother more of the custody time based on her sex.
HB1550 also had other items in it, including highlighting the relief offered through family access motions. It also prohibited local courts from establishing their own parenting plans. Historically, many of the local parenting plans found on shelves had default custody arrangements of other every other weekend, a night during the week and additional time in the summer and holidays for non-custodial parents.
This new bill (HB1667) moves the needle even further. HB1667 would make equal parenting time a rebuttable presumption in Missouri. Put simply, all judges will have to start every case at fifty-fifty custody and they will only be able to move away for that when the facts specifically call for it.
In 2018, HB1667 raced through the Missouri House of Representatives by a vote of 137-7. However, the legislation seemed to stall in the Missouri Senate. For whatever reason, it never came to a full vote.
However, on January 30, 2019, this legislation passed out of the Seniors, Families and Children Committee. This could be a significant step toward this legislation being voted on in the Missouri Senate. If it passed the Missouri Senate, it remains to be seen what Governor Parsons would do.
Would he sign this legislation? Would he not sign this legislation? Nobody really knows for sure, but if this legislation passes the Republican controlled House of Representatives and Senate, one has to think that Governor Parsons, a Republican, would be likely to sign it into law.
If that took place, this would be a major change in Missouri custody laws. It will be fascinating to see what happens in the weeks and months ahead.