Grandparents in the state of Missouri may intervene in a divorce suit to request visitation. Outside of a divorce suit, the grandparents must have been denied visitation. Grandparents who have been denied visitation can file a petition in the following cases:
- The parents are divorced.
- One parent is deceased and the other denied visitation.
- The child lived with the grandparent for at least six of the 24 months preceding the filing of the petition.
- The grandparent has been "unreasonably" denied visitation for 90 days or more.
Courts are instructed to consider the child's best interest. It is presumed that parents living together know what is in their child's best interest, but this is a "rebuttable presumption," meaning that the burden of proof is on the grandparents.
Missouri statutes allow the court to appoint a guardian ad litem, order a home study or consult with the child in order to determine the child's best interest.
In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court case of Troxel v. Granville, Missouri's law was challenged as unconstitutional. In the case of Blakely v. Blakely, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled its statute constitutional, citing several differences between it and the Washington State statute challenged in Troxel. It cited the following differences:
- The Washington statute concerned third-party visitation; Missouri law limits visitation to grandparents.
- The Washington statute did not have the 90-day requirement.
- In Missouri grandparents bear the burden of proving that visitation was "unreasonably" denied.
- Missouri provides the three procedures named above to assist judges in determining best interest.
See Missouri statutes.
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