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In re G.K.S.

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Second Division

December 30, 2014

IN THE MATTER OF: G.K.S., a Minor, by her Next Friend, KATI JO SPENCER, and KATI JO SPENCER, Individually, Respondent,
v.
JASON LEE STAGGS, Appellant

Page 245

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri. The Honorable James F. Kanatzar, Judge.

For Respondent: Allen S. Russell, Jr., Kansas City, MO.

For Appellant: Sharlie Pender, Independence, MO.

Before Division II: Joseph M. Ellis, Presiding Judge, and Victor C. Howard and Mark D. Pfeiffer, Judges. Joseph M. Ellis, Presiding Judge, and Victor C. Howard, Judge, concur.

OPINION

Page 246

Mark D. Pfeiffer, Judge

Jason Lee Staggs (" Father" ) appeals from the judgment of the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Family Court Division (" trial court" ), in this paternity action initiated by Kati Jo Spencer (" Mother" ). Father asserts that the trial court erred in failing to award him deposition costs and attorney fees in the judgment. Father also appeals from an order of the trial court denying his motion for an order nunc pro tunc and motion to reconsider. We affirm.

Factual and Procedural Background[1]

Mother filed a petition for declaration of paternity and order of child custody and child support under Missouri's Uniform Parentage Act. Father answered and cross-petitioned for determination of a father/child relationship and for an award of custody and child support.

On March 30, 2012, the parties appeared before the trial court for a temporary custody hearing. They informed the trial court that they had reached an agreement regarding temporary custody, and they made a record of that agreement. Father agreed to pay temporary child support to Mother in the amount of $500 per month. The trial court adopted and incorporated into the case the temporary custody order that was agreed to by the parties.

On July 13, 2012, Father took Mother's deposition. Two weeks later, Father filed a motion to compel and to sanction Mother for her allegedly evasive deposition answers. The trial court took the motion under advisement.

On August 6, 2012, Father filed a motion to modify the March 30 temporary order regarding parenting time, daycare provider, and child support. The trial court held a hearing on August 27, 2012, and thereafter entered a temporary award titled " Judgment of Paternity and Order of Temporary Parenting Time" on September 4, 2012. Among the temporary orders were a declaration that Father was the minor child's natural father and an order that Father continue to pay $500 per month child support to Mother.

On March 15, 2013, Father filed a motion for an order nunc pro tunc or, in the alternative, a motion to modify the September 4, 2012 order of temporary parenting time with respect to child support. By Order dated June 4, 2013, the trial court denied Father's motion. Father filed a motion for reconsideration of the denial of his motion for order nunc pro tunc on June 22, 2013, which the trial court denied.

Father deposed Mother again on July 30, 2013.

The trial court conducted a bench trial and entered its final Judgment of Paternity, Child Custody, Parenting Time, and Child Support on September 16, 2013. Father timely appealed from the judgment.

Page 247

In pertinent part, the trial court's judgment stated:

The parties do not share a commonality of beliefs, are unable to agree on decision-making rights, responsibilities and authority relating to the health, education and welfare of the minor child, and they are unable to cooperate and function as a parental unit. Joint legal custody of the minor child would be unworkable, inappropriate and not in the best interests of the minor child.
After considering all relevant factors set forth in ยง 452.375.2 RSMo., the Court finds the best interests of the minor child would be served by awarding sole legal custody of the minor child to [Father], joint physical custody to [Mother and Father], and designating [Father's] ...

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