D. A. Z. v. M. E. T., 39377

Decision Date21 November 1978
Docket NumberNo. 39377,39377
Citation575 S.W.2d 243
PartiesD. A. Z. and R. M. Z., Respondents, v. M. E. T., Jr., Appellant. . Louis District, Division Three
CourtMissouri Court of Appeals

James M. Daly, P. C., St. Louis, for appellant.

Martin Schiff, Jr., Webster Groves, James J. Raymond, Richard J. Schnidman, Raymond & Leggat, Inc., Clayton, for respondents.


Natural father has appealed from a decree of adoption. The petitioners are the child's mother and her present husband whom she married in 1971. The defendant-father did not expressly consent to the adoption and the issue before us is whether he constructively did so by wilfully abandoning or neglecting the child by failing to provide proper care and maintenance "for a period of at least one year immediately prior to the filing of the petition for adoption." This critical period was from June 1972 to June 1973. The trial court found for petitioners and decreed adoption.

The child, S.L.T., now twelve years old, was born to defendant-father, M.E.T., Jr., and his wife, petitioner R.M.T., now R.M.Z. They were divorced in Michigan in 1967. Custody was granted the mother and defendant-father was granted visitation rights and ordered to make weekly child-support payments to the "Friend of the Court" in Grand Haven, Michigan.

Defendant contends the evidence was insufficient to support the court's finding of his constructive consent to the adoption.

The critical period is June 5, 1972 to June 5, 1973, the date petitioners filed their petition. Michigan court records confirm the mother's testimony that defendant made no payments for child support from May, 1970 to November, 1974. He explains his failure to provide support payments by arguing he had no knowledge of the child's location from 1972 to 1973 and he was uncertain of his responsibility. True, both petitioners and defendant lived at several locations following the divorce. However, the mother kept the Michigan court and defendant's parents informed of the child's whereabouts. And, during the critical year, defendant's only contact with the child or petitioners consisted of sending the child a doll and some doll clothes for Christmas, 1972.

We agree with petitioners' contention that the child's location did not affect defendant's duty to send support payments to the Michigan Court; defendant does not refute this. The duty to support a child is a continuing obligation, unaffected by the conduct of the custodial parent. In Re Adoption...

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10 cases
  • Goettsche, In Interest of
    • United States
    • Iowa Supreme Court
    • October 21, 1981
    ...other grounds, Re Adoption of Cottrill, 388 So.2d 302 (Fla.App.1980); Re Adoption of Fuller, 544 S.W.2d 345 (Mo.App.1976); Z v. M. E. T., 575 S.W.2d 243 (Mo.App.1978); Re Carson, 76 Nev. 446, 357 P.2d 591 (1960); B v. B, 53 App.Div.2d 160, 385 N.Y.S.2d 821 (1976); Re Adoption of Jacono, 426......
  • Adoption of W.B.L., In re
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • December 18, 1984
    ...re K.M.B., 544 S.W.2d 590 (Mo.App.1976). However, not every gesture by a natural parent will terminate such abandonment. D.A.Z. v. M.E.T., 575 S.W.2d 243 (Mo.App.1978); see generally Annot., 35 A.L.R.2d 662, § 6 (1954). Whether or not there has been an abandonment--or repentence of abandonm......
  • Adoption of K. L. G., In re, s. 12270
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • August 30, 1982
    ...Casual visits and occasional gifts are not sufficient. Matter of Adoption of G----, 618 S.W.2d 462 (Mo.App.1981); D. A. Z. v. M. E. T., 575 S.W.2d 243 (Mo.App.1978); Matter of Adoption of Fuller, 544 S.W.2d 345 (Mo.App.1976). As so ably stated by Judge Wasserstrom: "A parent should not be a......
  • Marsch v. Williams
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • December 27, 1978
    ...v. Carron, 536 S.W.2d 30 (Mo. banc 1976). See Adoption of R. A. B. v. R. A. B., 562 S.W.2d 356 (Mo. banc 1978); D. A. Z. and R. M. Z. v. M. E. T., Jr., 575 S.W.2d 243 (Missouri Court of Appeals, St. Louis District No. 39377, decided November 21, 1978). Unfortunately we cannot reach that iss......
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