Prohibiting transfer of custody of child — exception — penalty — investigation and report — transfer of custody order issued, when. — 1. No person, agency, organization or institution shall surrender custody of a minor child, or transfer the custody of such a child to another, and no person, agency, organization or institution shall take possession or charge of a minor child so transferred, without first having filed a petition before the circuit court sitting as a juvenile court of the county where the child may be, praying that such surrender or transfer may be made, and having obtained such an order from such court approving or ordering transfer of custody.
2. If any such surrender or transfer is made without first obtaining such an order, such court shall, on petition of any public official or interested person, agency, organization or institution, order an investigation and report as described in section 453.070 to be completed by the children’s division and shall make such order as to the custody of such child in the best interest of such child.
3. Any person who violates the terms of this section is guilty of a class E felony.
4. The investigation required by subsection 2 of this section shall be initiated by the children’s division within forty-eight hours of the filing of the court order requesting the investigation and report and shall be completed within thirty days. The court shall order the person having custody in violation of the provisions of this section to pay the costs of the investigation and report.
5. This section shall not be construed to prohibit any parent, agency, organization or institution from placing a child with another individual for care if the right to supervise the care of the child and to resume custody thereof is retained, or from placing a child with a licensed foster home within the state through a child-placing agency licensed by this state as part of a preadoption placement.
6. After the filing of a petition for the transfer of custody for the purpose of adoption, the court may enter an order of transfer of custody if the court finds all of the following:
(1) A family assessment has been made as required in section 453.070 and has been reviewed by the court;
(2) A recommendation has been made by the guardian ad litem;
(3) A petition for transfer of custody for adoption has been properly filed or an order terminating parental rights has been properly filed;
(4) The financial affidavit has been filed as required under section 453.075;
(5) The written report regarding the child who is the subject of the petition containing the information has been submitted as required by section 453.026;
(6) Compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act, if applicable; and
(7) Compliance with the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children pursuant to section 210.620.
7. A hearing on the transfer of custody for the purpose of adoption is not required if:
(1) The conditions set forth in subsection 6 of this section are met;
(2) The parties agree and the court grants leave; and
(3) Parental rights have been terminated pursuant to section 211.444 or 211.447.
(RSMo 1939 § 9616, A.L. 1947 V. II p. 213, A.L. 1989 H.B. 51, A.L. 1997 H.B. 343, A.L. 2004 H.B. 1453, A.L. 2014 H.B.1299 Revision merged with S.B. 491)
Prior revisions: 1929 § 14081; 1919 § 1103
(1951) In adoption proceeding mother could not be awarded custody of her child where she had previously been deprived of such custody by divorce decree. In re Wines’ Adoption (A.), 239 S.W.2d 101.
(1955) Lawful custody of minor child must be awarded by an appropriate court and it must appear that petitioners have had actual custody at least nine months before a decree of adoption can be granted. Thus, where petitioners had actual custody without court order, court could make order as to custody and hold petition for adoption in abeyance for nine months. In re Davis’ Adoption (A.), 285 S.W.2d 35.
(1959) Where charitable organization placed child in home for adoption, but reserved the right to supervise its care and to resume its custody, the transfer of the actual custody was lawful so as to authorize its adoption. State ex rel. Dorsey v. Delly (Mo.), 327 S.W.2d 160.
(1960) In proceeding for adoption of child, the denial of an application for transfer of custody filed therein was not a final judgment from which an appeal would lie. In re Smith (A.), 331 S.W.2d 169.
(1960) Where a physician arranged the transfer of the custody of a child from an unwed mother to other parties the court, in its discretion, had power to transfer the custody of the child to the Child Welfare Services of the state. In re Smith (A.), 339 S.W.2d 490.
(1961) This section does not limit jurisdiction of juvenile court in connection with transfers of custody but merely prohibits voluntary transfers of custody without obtaining court approval. State ex rel. M.L.H. v. Carroll (A.), 343 S.W.2d 622.
(1961) Where action to transfer custody of minor child was filed by persons then having actual custody, court had full jurisdiction to inquire into the facts and make such orders as may be for the child’s best interest. Consequently a dismissal because of violation of this section was erroneous. In re Adoption of Knight (A.), 347 S.W.2d 239.
(1962) Evidence did not warrant finding that mother voluntarily and intentionally relinquished custody of her illegitimate child to petitioners in adoption proceedings with the intent to never again claim the rights of a parent or perform duties of a parent and therefore did not lawfully transfer permanent custody to petitioners. In re Adoption of J.M.K. (A.), 363 S.W.2d 67.