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In re Marriage of Ross

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, Second Division

May 29, 2018

In re the Marriage of: MEDINA LYNN ROSS (MORAN), Appellant,
v.
CHARLES RANDALL ROSS, Respondent.

          APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF NEWTON COUNTY Honorable David R. Munton, Special Judge

          DANIEL E. SCOTT, J.

         Mother appeals a modification of child-visitation provisions.[1] We rarely grant relief to a party who leads a trial court one direction, then complains after judgment that the court ruled that way and not differently, which is what we see here:

• Before the hearing, the parties announced that they had agreed on a parenting plan and would provide it to the court.
• Before judgment was entered, Mother notified the court of one concern on visitation and proposed slightly tweaking one clause of the proposed parenting plan to address it.
• After judgment, Mother raised a different complaint - that the visitation provisions violated statutory requirements that Mother knew of all along and that Mother's own proposal would have equally violated - and Mother persists in that claim as her sole point on appeal.

         We recognize, at least theoretically, several issues and concerns expressed by the dissent. But we will not fault the trial court for visitation terms that, as to Mother's sole point here, cannot be distinguished from what she asked the court to do. Mother invited any error that she now claims, so we deny her point and affirm the judgment.

         Background

         The parties' marriage was dissolved in 2007. As modified five years later, the judgment provided for joint physical custody of the children, with Mother's address designated for educational and mailing purposes, and included lengthy provisions detailing Father's visitation and parenting time as contemplated by RSMo §§ 452.375.9 and 452.310.8.[2]

         Father sought further modification in 2014, alleging that the children were doing poorly in school and wanted to live with him. In response, Mother proposed a parenting plan that, again, included nearly two pages of provisions detailing visitation and parenting time consistent with §§ 452.375.9 and 452.310.8.

         By the time Father's motion was heard in October 2016, all four of the parties' children, who then ranged in age from 12 to 18, resided with Father with Mother's approval. At the beginning of the hearing, Mother's counsel announced that the parties had settled and agreed upon modified custody and parenting-plan terms:

[MOTHER'S ATTORNEY]: Your Honor, we have agreed that the children -- that there should be a modification of custody in terms of the fact the children have, one by one, all expressed a desire to live with the father rather than mother, and at various dates they have gone to live with him. But we have agreed that the judgment --previous judgment can be modified so that the father has sole custody of the unemancipated minor children.
THE COURT: Okay. So we've had joint prior, and so now we're going sole physical and legal? Or what are we doing?
[MOTHER'S ATTORNEY]: Right. We had joint legal and physical before, and now the children are going to go stay with the father.
THE COURT: Okay. But it won't be joint then.
[MOTHER'S ATTORNEY]: It won't be joint.
THE COURT: It will be just sole?
[MOTHER'S ATTORNEY]: Correct.
[FATHER'S ATTORNEY]: And that's at mother's request, yes.
THE COURT: All right. All right. Just so I'm clear in regard to that. So that is going to be stipulated by the parties, I'm assuming, then?
[MOTHER'S ATTORNEY]: Yes.
THE COURT: And I'm assuming that proposed judgment had a ...

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