Deere v. Deere, WD 83906

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Writing for the CourtCynthia L. Martin, Judge
Citation627 S.W.3d 604
Parties Isaiah DEERE and Isabel Deere by Her Next Friend William Jesse Blankenship, Jr., and William Jesse Blankenship, Jr., Appellant, v. April I. DEERE, Respondent.
Decision Date29 June 2021
Docket NumberWD 83906

627 S.W.3d 604

Isaiah DEERE and Isabel Deere by Her Next Friend William Jesse Blankenship, Jr., and William Jesse Blankenship, Jr., Appellant,
v.
April I. DEERE, Respondent.

WD 83906

Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District.

OPINION FILED: June 29, 2021


William J. Blankenship, Jr., Appellant Pro Se.

Cynthia H. Kramer, Fulton, MO, for respondent.

Before Division Four: Cynthia L. Martin, Chief Judge, Presiding, Lisa White Hardwick, Judge and Thomas N. Chapman, Judge

Cynthia L. Martin, Judge

William Jesse Blankenship, Jr. ("Blankenship") appeals from a judgment of paternity, custody and support. Because of material deficiencies in Blankenship's brief, and because of Blankenship's failure to file a transcript of the trial giving rise to the judgment, we are unable to conduct meaningful

627 S.W.3d 606

appellate review and Blankenship's appeal is dismissed.

Factual and Procedural Background

Blankenship and April Irene Deere ("Deere") were never married, but were at one time in a relationship. On September 14, 2014, embryos were created at a reproductive clinic in North Carolina using Blankenship's sperm and Deere's eggs. Blankenship and Deere's relationship ended near this time frame.

On September 11, 2017, Deere had the embryos implanted at her sole cost and expense. Blankenship claimed this was without his permission, and that his signature was required and forged in order for Deere to be able to access the embryos.

On May 18, 2018, twin children (a son and a daughter) were born to Deere from the implanted embryos. Blankenship requested a DNA test which determined in or around July 2018 that Blankenship was the biological father of the children.

On August 6, 2018, Blankenship filed a petition for determination of father-child relationship, order of custody, visitation, and child support against Deere in the Circuit Court of Callaway County. Blankenship's petition sought a legal declaration that he was the father of the two minor children, and an award of custody, parenting time, and child support. Blankenship was represented by counsel at that time he filed his petition. Deere filed an answer to the petition, and a counterclaim for a declaration of paternity, for custody, and for an award of child support.

A guardian-ad-litem ("GAL") was appointed to represent the interests of the children. During the pendency of the proceedings, several temporary consent judgments were entered awarding temporary joint legal and physical custody of the children to the parties, and setting forth temporary parenting time schedules.

In or around March 2020, Blankenship's attorney withdrew from his representation, and Blankenship began representing himself. On April 28, 2020, Blankenship's pleadings were stricken as a sanction for failing to deposit GAL fees as ordered.

On June 3, 2020, Deere's counterclaim was tried. On June 25, 2020, the trial court entered a judgment ("Judgment").1 The trial court found that Blankenship and Deere were unsuccessful in being flexible with the parenting times set forth in temporary consent judgments. The trial court found that the parties were unable to communicate regarding the children's welfare and at exchanges of the children, and that the inability to communicate "adversely impacts the best interests of the children." The trial court noted that both children were experiencing speech development issues, and that son had been diagnosed as autistic, but that Blankenship "refused to allow the children to receive ... recommended services." The trial court further found that the parties had unsuccessfully participated in coparenting classes with a high conflict parenting counselor, and that the "parties are unable to work together for the children's best interests as coparents."

The Judgment adopted Deere's proposed parenting plan and incorporated it by reference. That same proposed parenting plan had been recommended by the GAL, and continued the parenting time schedule set forth in the most recent temporary consent judgment. As a result, Blankenship was awarded visitation on alternate weekends and for certain holidays and special days, as set forth in the

627 S.W.3d 607

adopted parenting plan. Though Blankenship was awarded visitation, the Judgment awarded Deere sole legal and physical custody of the minor children.

After considering the parties' respective Form 14's, and finding that the parties are unable to communicate about sharing costs for health care, extraordinary expenses, or extra-curricular expenses, the trial court ordered Blankenship to pay Deere child support in the amount of $1,550 per month, and ordered Deere to provide health insurance for the children. Blankenship was also ordered to pay Deere $750 for GAL fees Deere paid in excess of her share, and $8,434 for one-half of the medical costs incurred by Deere in connection with in vitro fertilization of the embryos. The trial court ordered each party to pay his or her own attorney fees.

Blankenship filed this appeal.

Analysis

Deere filed a motion to dismiss Blankenship's appeal which was taken with the case. Deere contends that due to substantial violations of Rule 84.04,2 and Blankenship's failure to file a transcript in the record on appeal, Blankenship's appeal must be dismissed. We agree.

Rule 84.04 Violations

" Rule 84.04 sets forth various requirements for appellate briefs, and compliance with these requirements is ‘mandatory to ensure that appellate courts do not become advocates by speculating on facts and on arguments that have not been made.’ " Duncan v. Duncan , 320 S.W.3d 725, 726 (Mo. App. E.D. 2010) (quoting Brown v. Ameristar Casino Kansas City, Inc. , 211 S.W.3d 145, 147 (Mo. App. W.D. 2007) ). "The failure to substantially comply with Rule 84.04 preserves nothing for review." Anderson v. Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co. , 173 S.W.3d 356, 357 (Mo. App. W.D. 2005). "Although [Blankenship] appears pro se , he is held to the same standard as attorneys and is subject to the mandatory appellate briefing requirements of Rule 84.04." Bennett v. Taylor , 615 S.W.3d 96, 98 (Mo. App. E.D. 2020). " ‘Judicial impartiality, judicial economy, and fairness to all parties necessitates that we do not grant pro se litigants preferential treatment with regard to their compliance with those procedural rules.’ " Id. (quoting Hamilton v. Archer , 545 S.W.3d 377, 379 (Mo. App. E.D. 2018) ).

Rule 84.04(a)(3) requires the brief for appellant to contain a statement of facts. Rule 84.04(c) provides that "[t]he statement of facts shall be a fair and concise statement of the facts relevant to the questions presented for...

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2 practice notes
  • State v. State Bd. of Registration for the Healing Arts, WD 84394
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • December 7, 2021
    ...requires us to reject Dr. Putnam's argument concerning the adequacy of the AHC's protective order. See, e.g. , Deere v. Deere , 627 S.W.3d 604, 609 (Mo. App. W.D. 2021) ; D.D.W. v. M.F.A. , 594 S.W.3d 274, 276 n.4 (Mo. App. S.D. 2020).5 On appeal, Dr. Putnam challenges only the Board's requ......
  • State ex rel. Putnam v. State Bd. of Registration for Healing Arts, WD84394
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • December 7, 2021
    ...separately requires us to reject Dr. Putnam's argument concerning the adequacy of the AHC's protective order. See, e.g., Deere v. Deere, 627 S.W.3d 604, 609 (Mo. App. W.D. 2021); D.D.W. v. M.F.A., 594 S.W.3d 274, 276 n.4 (Mo. App. S.D. 2020). [5] On appeal, Dr. Putnam challenges only the Bo......
2 cases
  • State v. State Bd. of Registration for the Healing Arts, WD 84394
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • December 7, 2021
    ...requires us to reject Dr. Putnam's argument concerning the adequacy of the AHC's protective order. See, e.g. , Deere v. Deere , 627 S.W.3d 604, 609 (Mo. App. W.D. 2021) ; D.D.W. v. M.F.A. , 594 S.W.3d 274, 276 n.4 (Mo. App. S.D. 2020).5 On appeal, Dr. Putnam challenges only the Board's requ......
  • State ex rel. Putnam v. State Bd. of Registration for Healing Arts, WD84394
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • December 7, 2021
    ...separately requires us to reject Dr. Putnam's argument concerning the adequacy of the AHC's protective order. See, e.g., Deere v. Deere, 627 S.W.3d 604, 609 (Mo. App. W.D. 2021); D.D.W. v. M.F.A., 594 S.W.3d 274, 276 n.4 (Mo. App. S.D. 2020). [5] On appeal, Dr. Putnam challenges only the Bo......

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