Possible changes to Missouri domestic violence laws

Legislation that would make changes to domestic violence laws in Missouri for the first time in close to 40 years was recently approved by a 33-0 vote by the state’s Senate. If the bill is approved by the House, these changes could greatly impact issues related to family law.

If the bill is passed, numerous changes would be made to domestic violence laws, which would include having standardized definitions for words like “domestic violence,” “child” and “abuse.” As of now those words tend to have different meanings in different laws, and there isn’t even a state definition for “domestic violence.”

Outside of creating some consistency with definitions, if the bill is approved it will also become mandatory for any orders of protection to also include information related to child custody and visitation. This way, if an officer pulls over a vehicle with two children inside – but learns that parent should not have those children at that specific time – a red flag could be raised that there may be some sort of domestic situation going on.

And, when it comes to orders of protection, the new laws would make it so that protection orders could be customized by a judge, and when an order of protection is withdrawn the judge would also be able to call the person to make sure that he or she really wanted to withdraw the order and was not threatened or scared in to doing so.

At this point these changes to domestic violence laws are awaiting approval by the House. The legislative session ends on May 13.

Source: Greenfield Daily Reporter, “Missouri Senate approves first major rewrite of domestic violence laws in decades,” Wes Duplantier, 21 April 2011

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