MO: Termination of Parental Rights Requires Dotting I’s and Crossing Ts

According to reports, an arguably overzealous child welfare agency in Missouri, with an inexperienced social worker running the case, conducted a formal home study before starting a termination of parental rights case by filing a petition with the court.

The applicable Missouri statute reportedly states clearly that the home study should be conducted and filed after the filing of the petition.

At trial, the court deferred ruling on various motions, including a motion on whether to recognize the home study as evidence in the case – until after the Court reached a decision on the merits of the case.

The presiding judge apparently adopted an “ends justifies the means” approach.

But that approach runs counter to the rule of law, rather than men philosophy that underpins our legal system.

The intermediate level appellate court rejected the trial judge’s ruling, but transferred the case to Missouri’s highest court. Quoting from another opinion, the Court stated:

Severance of the parent-child relationship by act of law is an exercise of awesome power and demands strict and literal compliance with the statutory authority from which it is derived.

Read the opinion in In the Interest of: C.W. at the Missouri courts website.