Herrick v. Reed, 330 S.W.3d 821 (Mo. App. S.D. 2011)

Factual Background:

Mother and Father resided together prior to Child’s birth, during which time they both abused drugs and alcohol.  Father was also verbally abusive to Mother.  A few months before Child was born, Mother began residing with Grandfather.  After Child’s birth, Father visited his child one time and provided very little support.  After Mother’s death, Grandfather informed Father that he intended to file for guardianship of Child.  Father expressed his belief that Child was in the right place and asked if he could maybe visit Child.  Father is still struggling financially, has no specific plan for child care while he works, and has no information on how to provide insurance for Child.

Phelps County Circuit Court, Sp. J. Clayton, Held:

The circuit court appointed Grandfather as guardian of Child.  Father appealed.

Court of Appeals, P.J. Rahmeyer, Held:

Affirmed.  Father argues that the probate court erred in granting guardianship because the finding that Father was unfit to care for Child was not supported by sufficient evidence.  Although there is a rebuttable presumption that a natural parent is the appropriate custodian for a minor child, it may be overcome by evidence that the parent is unfit, unable, or unwilling to take care of the child.  Father’s lack of planning for childcare, insurance, and housing, combined with his problems with alcohol, anger management, and marijuana provide the basis for a finding that he was currently unfit.