Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Linda Reutzel: Missouri Shown the Way to Improve Family Courts

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Linda Reutzel: Missouri Shown the Way to Improve Family Courts

Article excerpt

Kentucky's monumental passage of a shared-parenting bill last year has been deemed the most popular vote in the state.

According to an Aug. 30 opinion piece in the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Administrative Office of the Courts has issued a report that shows a reduction in domestic court cases by 11% and a reduction of 445 cases of domestic violence since the full law took effect. Missouri, the Show-Me state, has clearly been shown.

Two key and influential Missouri state lawmakers, Sen. Wayne Wallingford and Rep. Kathy Swan, are continuing to rise to the challenge in making effective change on this issue here at home. The two Republicans planned to kick off a viewing of the powerful and gripping documentary "Erasing Family" in Cape Girardeau this month. The documentary explores trauma experienced by children when a loving, fit parent is erased from their lives because of separation and divorce. The documentary's launch in Missouri is fittingly in their corner of the state. Additional screenings will continue as the documentary goes on the road.

More and more Missouri elected officials are turning their attention to the critical and frequently intertwined issues of social justice and criminal justice, and this provides every opportunity for legislation that these lawmakers will file again in the 2020 session to be a top priority in the Missouri Legislature. The legislative change they seek simply starts with a premise that there are two fit parents, and judges should be allowed discretion to make child-custody arrangements that award equal or approximately equal parenting time to each parent if doing so is in the best interests of the child.

Some progress has been made.

In 2016, Missouri passed a law requiring that written findings of facts and conclusions be submitted in all contested cases. …

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