Strobel v. Strobel was decided by the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, on April 17, 2007. In this case the parties sought a modification of the original dissolution judgment as it pertains to the custody of the children. The original dissolution judgment awarded sole legal and physical custody of the children to the Father but gave each parent roughly equal parenting time with the children. Subsequent to the original dissolution judgment being entered the Mother sought a clarification of the parenting plan. Thereafter the Father countered with a modification of the Mother's visitation time and the Mother then countered seeking joint legal and physical custody. The Court granted the modification of custody from sole legal and physical custody to joint legal and physical custody. Father appealed.
In order to support a custody modification, there must be proof of a change in circumstances. However, this change does not have to be a "continuing" change in circumstances and it does not have to be a "substantial" change where the modification order changes custody from sole custody to joint custody.
In Strobel the Mother testified that until right before the modification action was initiated, she and the Father were able to communicate and make joint decisions regarding the children. However, this changed right before the modification was started, and Mother testified that the Father tried to keep the Mother from participating in the decision making for the children and that the Father interfered with her parenting time. The Court found that a change in circumstances occurs when there is a breakdown of parental communication and cooperation. This is enough to modify the original dissolution judgment.
Source: Walter Strobel v. Jane Strobel, Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, WD67242, April 17, 2007