Requesting a new family law judge

mens divorce lawyer William BackerQuestion:

My divorce and subsequent motions to modify my decree have all been before the same family law judge. My ex-wife is now filing an unfounded motion for contempt.

I believe there is a court rule that I can request a different judge to hear my contempt case. Is that true?


It could be argued that you may have a right to file for a change of judge under these circumstances.

In the state I practice in (Missouri), the court rule that you refer to specifically provides that “For purposes of this (Supreme Court) Rule 51, motions to modify child custody, child support, or spousal maintenance filed pursuant to chapter 452, RSMo, are not an independent civil action unless the judge designated to rule on the motion is not the same judge that ruled on the previous independent civil action.”

The language of the rule does not specifically say that a motion for contempt is not an independent civil action.

Therefore, since the Supreme Court specified that some post-judgment motions are not independent civil actions, it can be inferred that since the Supreme Court did not specifically include motions for contempt in that list, that the Supreme Court would consider motions for contempt to be independent civil actions, and thus the right to file for a change of judge under this rule would be possible.

However, the other side of this argument would be that the judge that issued the order is the proper person to determine whether a party is not complying with the order and to enforce its order.

Cordell & Cordell has men’s divorce lawyers in 18 states.


William F. Backer is an Associate Attorney in the Arnold, Missouri office of Cordell & Cordell where he practices domestic relations exclusively. Mr. Backer is licensed in the State of Missouri. Mr. Backer received his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, with emphasis in Accounting, from the University of Missouri – St. Louis. He then went on to receive his Juris Doctor from Saint Louis University School of Law in 1999.

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One comment on “Requesting a new family law judge

    For almost three years now my children have resided with their paternal grandparents because my husband and I were homeless. Since going to court for custody. Grandmother has done nothing but slander us and has taken it upon herself to tell us what. We can and can’t do; visitations, etc. Judge has ordered us to see our kids minimal of 4 days per week at four hours per day. GP live 13 miles our of town where no transit buses go. We don’t have any other means of transportation. We buy bus tickets to get us as far as possible then she is to pick us up. She won’t so it and is now demanding gas money cuz she can’t afford to pick us up for our visits. We have 1 income vs her 3 but she can’t pay for gas? Where does the money go that such gets for those kids? Can I get a new judge if we aren’t being listened to? Or if the other parties involved aren’t cooperating?

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