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Senate Bill 35

Legislation was passed in the last hours of this year’s session that would create a standard that all custody cases start at a presumption of 50/50 custody, making Missouri one of the first states with such a standard. Current law requires that judges look at the best interests of the child(ren) and that each parent should have significant but not necessarily equal time depending on varied factors, like a history of domestic violence. 

Missouri’s bill passed 114-9 in the House and 30-4 in the Senate and now sits on Governor Parson’s desk.

We are asking Governor Parson to fully support a carve out for domestic violence in the next legislative session.

It is imperative we advocate for children impacted by domestic violence.

  • To reach the Governor’s Office:
    • Email – Contact Us | Governor Michael L. Parson (
    • 573-751-3222

Tips when reaching out:

  1. Explain the purpose of your call or email.

Example: I am contacting you to share concern for the MO children who are at risk of additional harm due to the current version of SB 35.

  • Summarize your understanding of the bill.

Example: SB 35 will not allow family court judges, trained on the effects of domestic violence on children, to base custody decisions on the best interest of the child(ren) and will force the judge to start with an assumption of 50/50 custody – no matter the circumstances.

  • Explain your position.

Example: Having children in common is often a barrier for victims wanting to leave an abuser. They often look to the courts for assistance in safely separating from an abusive partner.

  • Identify who will be impacted.

Example: In 2022, there were 92,497 domestic relations cases filed in Missouri. Without a carve-out for domestic violence 100,000 Missouri children could have to spend 50% of their life with someone who has a history of abuse.

  • Describe the action you want the governor to take.

Example: Please explicitly state your support for a carve-out for domestic violence that allows judges to rule in the best interests of children, specifically when there is a history of domestic violence.

  • Thank him for his consideration.

Example: Thank you for doing all you can to protect the most vulnerable among us.

Saint Martha’s serves women and children who are impacted by domestic violence by providing shelter and resources.
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