Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Third Division
from the Circuit Court of Monroe County 16MN-JU00001
Honorable David C. Mobley
M. CLAYTON III, JUDGE.
("Father") appeals the judgment of the Juvenile
Division of the Circuit Court of Monroe County ("the
trial court" or "the court") finding that
under Missouri law, Father was statutorily prohibited from
reuniting with his minor child, A.J.C., due to the nature of
his prior criminal conviction. We reverse and
The Circumstances Giving Rise to the Trial Court's
Jurisdiction over A.J.C.
is the natural father of A.J.C., a daughter born on May 5,
2007. Father had physical custody of A.J.C. prior to the
events giving rise to this appeal. On January 21, 2016,
A.J.C. was taken into protective custody by the
Children's Division and was subsequently placed in foster
care with Father's parents.
April 8, 2016, the trial court entered its judgment finding
A.J.C. a ward of the court and placing her under the
jurisdiction of the trial court for supervision and
treatment. The court found A.J.C. was in need of protective
services due to Father's failure to provide proper care,
custody, and support under section 211.031.1(1)(b) RSMo Supp.
2013. It was specifically alleged that Father
failed to provide A.J.C. with adequate housing, dress, and
transportation to and from school. Additionally, during its
investigation of the allegations against Father, the
Children's Division discovered marijuana in the family
residence. Father was then required to take a drug test,
which came back positive for THC and methamphetamines.
Father's Motion for Release from Protective Custody and
Subsequent Procedural Posture
31, 2016, Father filed a "motion for release from
protective custody upon change of circumstances"
("motion for release from protective custody" or
"Father's motion") arguing the reasons for
protective custody had been rectified and that he should be
reunited with his daughter.
trial court held a dispositional hearing on June 10, 2016. At
the hearing, the court was presented evidence of Father's
1999 conviction for abuse of a child under section
568.060.1(2) RSMo 2000,  in which the victim was a
seventeen-year-old girl. The Children's Division and the
Juvenile Officer asserted the conviction prevented
Father's reunification with A.J.C. under section
211.038.1(3) RSMo Supp. 2006. As the evidence indicated
Father's home was appropriate at that time and he was
drug free, the trial court concluded the issues giving rise
to its jurisdiction had been rectified, and thus, the main
issue left before the court was whether reunification was
barred due to Father's prior conviction. The trial court
then took the matter under advisement and allowed the parties
to submit briefs on the issue.
30, 2016, the trial court entered an order denying
Father's motion for release from protective custody. The
court's order suggested it was not convinced
reunification was barred based on Father's prior
conviction, but that it was erring on the side of caution by
denying Father's motion for the time being.
the Missouri Department of Social Services, on behalf of the
Children's Division, filed a motion for reconsideration
of application of section 211.038.1(3) ("the
Children's Division's motion"). On February 17,
2017, the court heard additional argument on the issue of
Father's prior conviction, and ultimately granted the
Children's Division's motion as it found sections
211.038.1 and 568.060.1(2) prohibited the court from
reuniting Father with A.J.C.
February 21, 2017, the trial court entered its order and
judgment of disposition regarding abuse/neglect
("judgment"), which reflected its finding that the
aforementioned statutes prevented Father's reunification
with A.J.C. The court set its permanency plan for A.J.C. to
be placed under guardianship with the paternal grandparents.