Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Forth Division
I.K.R. By Next Friend J.M.R., and J.M.R., Individually, Respondent,
from the Circuit Court of St. Louis County 13SL-DR05364-01
Honorable Mondonna L. Ghasedi.
M. Dowd Presiding Judge.
domestic relations case concerns the legal and physical
custody and visitation of I.K.R. ("Child"), the
daughter of appellant K.L.D. ("Mother") and
respondent J.M.R. ("Father"). Mother appeals from
the judgment of the Circuit Court of St. Louis County which
modified the legal and physical custody arrangements set
forth in the court's 2014 judgment under which the
parties had shared legal custody, Mother had sole physical
custody, and Father unsupervised visitation. On Father's
motion to modify in which he alleged that Mother had falsely
accused him of sexually abusing Child and that Mother had
wrongfully interfered with and damaged his visitation rights
and relationship with Child, the trial court granted Father
sole legal and physical custody of Child and Mother one hour
of supervised visitation per week.
appeal, Mother claims (1) the trial court's award of one
hour of supervised visitation per week violates §
452.375.4, and (2) there was no evidence to show
that supervision is necessary to protect Child's
emotional development. We affirm.
applicable standard of review requires this Court to affirm
the trial court's judgment unless it is not supported by
substantial evidence, is against the weight of the evidence,
or erroneously declares or applies the law. Morgan v.
Morgan, 497 S.W.3d 359, 363 (Mo.App.E.D. 2016) (citing
Murphy v. Carron, 536 S.W.2d 30, 32 (Mo.banc 1976)).
The trial court is in a superior position to weigh all of the
evidence and render a judgment based upon that evidence;
therefore, the judgment is to be affirmed under any
reasonable theory supported by the evidence. Id.
(citing Love v. Love, 75 S.W.3d 747, 754
(Mo.App.W.D. 2002)). The trial court's determination of
custody will not be disturbed on appeal unless this Court is
firmly convinced the determination is erroneous and is
against the child's best interests. Id. (citing
Bather v. Bather, 170 S.W.3d 487, 492 (Mo.App.W.D.
The trial court did not abuse its discretion by limiting
Mother to one hour of supervised visitation per week because
the court acted in Child's best interests.
determining issues relating to custody, the trial court is
required to make determinations that will best assure that
both parents have frequent, continuing, and meaningful
contact with a child so long as it is in the best
interests of the child. § 452.375.4. Here, the court
awarded Mother supervised visitation with Child for up to one
hour per week. Mother contends that this limited visitation
violates § 452.375.4 because it does not provide for
frequent or meaningful contact between her and Child. We
under § 452.400.1(1), a parent is entitled to
"reasonable" visitation rights, although it is
within the trial court's discretion to determine what
constitutes reasonable visitation rights. Kocsis v.
Kocsis, 28 S.W.3d 505, 510 (Mo.App.E.D. 2000). We
reverse such determinations only upon a showing that the
trial court has exercised its discretion in a manner that is
not in the child's best interests. Scott v.
Scott, 147 S.W.3d 887, 898 (Mo.App.W.D. 2004).
determining what visitation arrangement is in a child's
best interests, the court shall consider each of the factors
identified in § 452.375.2 that it considers relevant.
See State ex rel S.F.F. v. S.C.a, 554 S.W.3d 512,
522 (Mo.App.E.D. 2018). Here, we find that the court did so.
First, the court looked at the needs of Child for a frequent,
continuing, and meaningful relationship with both parents and
the ability and willingness of each parent to provide for all
of Child's needs. § 452.375.2(2). In this regard,
the court considered the testimony of the court-appointed
psychologist, Dr. James Reid, that Mother demonstrated
behaviors consistent with borderline personality disorder and
that her condition posed a serious risk to Child's
psychological and emotional development. The court also
examined evidence of Mother's deliberate and calculated
efforts to alienate Child from Father, including by denying
him contact and visitation with Child and by accusing him in
reports to law enforcement of sexually abusing Child. The
court concluded based on this evidence that Mother is not
currently able to perform the emotional and psychological
functions of a parent that are necessary to ensure
Child's healthy emotional development. The court found no
evidence that Father is unable or unwilling to perform his
functions as a parent.
the court examined which parent is more likely to allow Child
frequent, continuing, and meaningful contact with the other
parent. § 452.375.2(4). The court found that evidence of
Mother's efforts to undermine Child's relationship
with Father demonstrates that Mother is opposed to Father
having meaningful contact with Child and that unsupervised
visitation would likely lead to further attempts by Mother to
damage Father's relationship with Child, which would be
damaging to Child's emotional development. The court
concluded, therefore, that Father is more likely than Mother
to allow Child frequent, continuing, and meaningful contact
with the other parent.
we find the court properly weighed the parties' wishes as
outlined in § 452.375.2(1) when it considered both
parents' custody preferences and the GAL's proposed
parenting plan that recommended sole legal and physical
custody to Father with supervised visitation to Mother.
the court looked at the interaction and interrelationship of
Child with parents, siblings, and any person who may
significantly affect Child's best interests. §
452.375.2(3). The court examined evidence of Child's
relationship with her step-sister, paternal grandparents, and
maternal grandmother. In particular, the court heard
testimony about Mother's turbulent upbringing and the
troubling relationship between Mother and Child's
maternal grandmother. As for Father, he testified that he was
concerned that Mother's unsupervised visitation with
Child may ...