Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Neal v. Neal case brief

Neal v. Neal case brief summary
941 S.W.2d 501 (Mo. 1997)

SYNPOSIS: Appellant wife sought review of the decision of the Circuit Court of Webster County (Missouri), which, in a dissolution proceeding involving the wife and respondent husband, refused to change the wife's name as requested and granted the husband's request to change the name of the parties' minor child.

-The trial court awarded custody of the minor child to the wife and specific visitation to the husband, ordered the husband to pay an amount in child support, and changed the child's name. On appeal, the court reversed the decision of the trial court.

The court held that, although the trial court had the power to change the name of the minor child in a dissolution proceeding, it could only do so after adequate notice to the opposing party.

-The court ruled that the husband's pleadings did not give adequate notice to the wife of his request for a name change and the reasons for the requested change.
-The court further held that it was error to refuse to restore the wife's maiden name, because there was no presumption that having a mother with a different name was harmful to a child.
-The court also held that the trial court failed to provide the calculations upon which it based its award of child support.
-Without the calculations no meaningful review could be had, and a reversal of the trial court's decision was required.

OUTCOME: The court reversed the decree of divorce entered by the trial court and remanded the cause with instructions to change the wife's name as she had requested and to enter its judgment awarding the correct child support in the manner prescribed in the opinion. The court reversed the trial court's order changing the minor's name without prejudice to the husband's right to refile the action.

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