Court of Appeals of Missouri for the Eastern District
779 S.W.2d 36 (Mo. Ct. App. 1989)
A mother (plaintiff) and a father (defendant) were divorced. The mother and father had joint custody of their two children. The mother petitioned for modification of the divorce decree, seeking termination of the father’s custody and visitation rights. The mother alleged that the father physically and psychologically abused the children. The mother and father agreed to suspend the hearing on the petition while they underwent counseling with a psychiatrist, Dr. Graham. Dr. Graham terminated the counseling after two sessions, finding that the father was not committed to working on the problems and that it would be dangerous for the children to have further contact with the father. The trial court held a hearing, at which both parents introduced expert testimony of psychologists, including Dr. Graham. The mother’s experts generally agreed that the mother should be awarded primary custody and that the children showed signs of abuse by the father. The mother’s experts did not, however, recommend that the father not have supervised visits with the children. The father’s expert witness acknowledged something abnormal about the children’s relationship with their father, but recommended that the relationship be maintained. The father requested further physical examination of the children in light of the mother’s experts’ allegations. The trial court denied the request, finding that the children had already been subject to sufficient evaluation and that further examination would be detrimental to their mental health. The trial court granted the mother’s petition for modification, awarding the mother sole custody and terminating the father’s visitation rights. The father appealed, arguing that the ruling was not supported by the evidence and that he was not given a full opportunity to develop his case.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Karohl, J.)
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