Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Third Division
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cole County, Missouri. The Honorable Patricia S. Joyce, Judge.
For Respondent: Sara Catherine Michael, Jefferson City, MO.
For Appellant: Carla Grace Holste, Jefferson City, MO.
Before Division Three: Mark D. Pfeiffer, P.J., Gary D. Witt, Anthony Rex Gabbert, JJ. All concur.
Anthony Rex Gabbert, Judge.
John B. Keller, II (" Father" ) appeals the circuit court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Kathy Kay (" Mother" ) on Father's motion to modify child support. Father raises four points on appeal. First, Father contends that Mother was not entitled to judgment as a matter of law because Father is not required to ask the court for continued support prior to Son reaching the age of eighteen. Second, Father argues that the circuit court erred in granting Mother's motion for summary judgment because there were disputed material facts as to Son's incapacity and ability to support himself. Third, Father argues that the circuit court erred in finding Son emanicipated because there was overwhelming evidence that Son was unmarried, mentally incapacitated, and insolvent. Fourth, Father argues that the circuit court erred in finding Son emancipated because Mother failed to meet her burden of proving emancipation. We reverse and remand.
Father and Mother were divorced on February 5, 1999. There were two children born of the marriage: John Keller, III (" Son" ), born September 29, 1992, and Kathianne Keller (" Daughter" ), born January 2, 1995. Father and Mother were awarded joint legal custody. The original judgment was modified by stipulation on or about November 1, 2000, setting the child support obligation payable by Father to Mother at the amount of $1,600 per month. In 2010, Father filed a motion to modify the 2000 judgment. In April, 2011, the parties executed a stipulation transferring the physical custody of Son to Father and establishing child support and other expenses. Under the stipulation, Father was to pay Mother $596 monthly in child support. This figure was reached after offsetting Father's $931 obligation for Daughter with Mother's $335 obligation for Son.
On July 25, 2013, Father filed a motion to modify, seeking termination of his child support obligation to Daughter based upon her emancipation. Both parties ultimately agreed that Daughter was emancipated due to having married. Additionally, Father sought to extend Mother's child support obligation for Son beyond his eighteenth birthday. Father alleged that Son had suffered throughout his life with autism,
generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and bipolar mental illness. Father alleged that, due to Son's mental condition, he is under the full-time care of both a psychologist and psychiatrist, takes a number of medications to control his condition, and is without the means or ability to be self-supporting and self-sufficient. Father alleged that Son attempted classes at Columbia College after graduation from high school, but was only partially successful and did not enroll in or attend courses thereafter. Father further alleged that, on or about November 21, 2012, Son was formally determined disabled by the Social Security Administration and that determination found Son to be totally disabled with an inability to support himself through regular employment.
Mother filed an answer to Father's motion to modify. In response to Father's allegations regarding Son's mental condition, diagnoses, disabilities, and post-secondary education, Mother stated that she was " without sufficient information to either admit or deny the allegations" and she, therefore, denied the allegations. Mother denied Father's allegation that the court should extend Mother's parental support obligation past Son's eighteenth birthday because Son is mentally incapacitated, insolvent, unmarried, and unable to support himself.
On June 6, 2014, the parties appeared for a hearing. At the commencement of the hearing, Mother filed a motion for summary judgment. Mother's motion contended that Son was emancipated as of October 1, 2011, because he was not enrolled full-time in a post-secondary educational or vocational institution. Mother further alleged that Father made no allegations when the two entered into the 2011 child support stipulation that Son was in need of an extension of child support past the age of majority and Father misled Mother and the court by not ...