Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, First Division
IN THE INTEREST OF: T.J. & W.J., Plaintiff,
V.L.C. (Mother), Appellant. JUVENILE OFFICER, Respondent,
from the Circuit Court of Jackson County The Honorable John
M. Torrence, Judge.
Before: Anthony Rex Gabbert, P.J., and Thomas H. Newton and
Alok Ahuja, JJ.
Circuit Court of Jackson County entered judgment finding that
V.L.C.'s children, T.J. and W.J., were subject to the
jurisdiction of the court pursuant to § 211.031, RSMo,
on the basis of neglect. The court placed the children in the
custody of their father (V.L.C.'s ex-husband), subject to
supervision by the Children's Division of the Department
of Social Services.
("Mother") appeals. Subsequent to the filing of
Mother's notice of appeal, however, the circuit court
entered a final judgment terminating the court's prior
orders and releasing the children from the jurisdiction of
the court. In light of the circuit court's final
judgment, the appeal is moot, and we accordingly dismiss it.
and W.J. were born of the marriage of Mother and J.J.
("Father") on November 8, 2004 and October 19,
2006, respectively. Mother and Father's marriage was
dissolved in 2007. Pursuant to the dissolution judgment,
Mother was granted physical custody of the children.
original parenting plan required Mother and Father to consult
each other about any medical treatment for the children,
although Mother had the authority to make final decisions
concerning the children's medical care. In March 2014
Mother began taking T.J. to Dr. Jacobson at Children's
Mercy Hospital for the initiation of gender reassignment
therapy. On July 1, 2014, the circuit court modified the
parenting plan to require each parent to obtain explicit
written consent from the other parent for any medical
January 29, 2015, Children's Division staff visited
Mother's home with law enforcement officers in response
to allegations that Mother was neglecting the children.
During that visit, Mother threatened to kill herself and her
children if the Children's Division attempted to remove
the children from her custody. After the home visit, the law
enforcement officers requested that the Children's
Division take protective custody of the children.
January 30, 2015, the Jackson County Juvenile Officer filed a
petition under § 211.031 RSMo, alleging that the
children were without proper care, custody and support due to
Mother's neglect. The Juvenile Officer sought to have the
children placed in the protective custody of the
April 17, 2015, an adjudication hearing was held in the
circuit court. The court entered its adjudication judgment on
April 23, 2015. In that judgment the court found that it had
jurisdiction over the children because they had been
neglected. The court found that Mother had threatened to kill
herself and the children, had sought medical treatment for
T.J. to which Father had not agreed, had "abusively
encouraged" T.J. to engage in gender reassignment
therapy "through the use of irrational and frightening
communication, " and had "unreasonably exposed
[T.J.] to risk of harm by publicly posting photos and
transgender reassignment information regarding her children
circuit court held a disposition hearing on May 1, 2015. On
May 4, the court entered a temporary dispositional order and
continued the disposition hearing and case review for July 9,
2015. The temporary order placed the children in Father's
custody, under the Children's Division's supervision.
On July 9, another disposition hearing was held, and a final
judgment on disposition was entered on August 7, 2015,
leaving the children in Father's custody under
supervision of the Children's Division.
filed a notice of appeal on August 28, 2015. On September 17,
2015, the circuit court entered a "Judgment Releasing
from Jurisdiction." It found "that the [children]
are no longer in need of the services of this Court, "
and ordered "that the prior orders be terminated and,
all parties being in agreement, said juveniles be and are
released and discharged from the jurisdiction of the
Before considering the merits of this dispute, we must
determine whether or not we have jurisdiction to decide the
appeal. An appellate court is not permitted to review moot
claims of error. A case is moot when the circumstances that
surround it change sufficiently to cause a legal controversy
to cease, and a ...