Domestic Relations Investigations
Who can ask for a Domestic Relations Investigation?
Domestic Relations Investigations are conducted only at the order of the court in dissolution, paternity, motions to modify divorce decrees or paternity judgments, and family access motions. The attorney for one or both parties may ask the family court commissioner to order an investigation, a Guardian ad Litem may ask the commissioner to order an investigation, or the commissioner may order the investigation on the court's own motion. Investigations are conducted in cases where there is a high-conflict custody dispute between the parties.
What is generally included in a domestic relations investigation?
Ideally, a Domestic Relations Officer will meet with both parties briefly and/or attorneys if possible on the day the investigation is ordered to get contact information for both parties and to get a brief understanding of the issues in the case. What happens next depends on what the commissioner has specifically ordered and whether or not there is a guardian ad litem in the case. A domestic relations investigation can include any of the following:
- Interviews with both parties to get a more thorough understanding of the issues in the case.
- Background checks of both parties and any relevant individuals, to include checks of court dockets, police and sheriff's department records for any location where the parties have lived, Missouri Children's Division, and the Juvenile Office.
- If needed and the relevant party consents, medical and mental health records of the adult parties and/or the child(ren).
- Other records as needed, including probation/parole records, educational records of the child(ren), child support records, etc.
- Home visits to the homes of the parties to determine if there are any safety concerns.
- Urinary Analysis drug testing if ordered by the court.
How will I know if the Domestic Relations Investigation is completed?
When the domestic relations officer completes an investigation report, that report is submitted to the court in a sealed envelope. It is placed in the court file unread by a commissioner. Copies of the report are sent to the attorney's for each party, any Pro Se litigants, and the guardian ad litem. The report will only be read by the family court commissioner if one of the attorneys enters it into evidence during a hearing or trial.