Welcome to the
Family Court of St. Louis County

A part of the St. Louis County Circuit Court (Missouri 21st Judicial Circuit), the Family Court of St. Louis County has been serving the citizens of St. Louis County for decades.  The Family Court consists of the Juvenile Court and the Domestic Relations Court divisions.  The Family Court also encompasses the celebrated Domestic Violence Court for certain order of protection cases.  Circuit Judge Jason Dodson was appointed the Administrative Judge of the Family Court in January 2022.

The Juvenile Court consists of 4 divisions: 

Judge Jason Dodson - Division 10; Judge Ellen Dunne - Division 39; Commissioner Diane Monahan – Division 61; and Commissioner Catherine Keefe – Division 62

The Domestic Relations Court consists of 10 divisions: 

[vacant] – Division 3; Judge Virginia Lay – Division 16; Judge Margaret Donnelly – Division 20; Judge Julia Lasater – Division 32; Judge Lorne Baker – Division 35; Judge Joseph Greene – Division 36; Judge John Lasater – Division 38; Judge Robert Heggie - Division 42; Commissioner Victoria McKee – Division 64; and Commissioner Mary Greaves – Division 65.


BEGINNING January 31, 2022 - Order of Protection cases in Domestic Relations Court will now be held IN PERSON.  Hearings will no longer be held by Webex.  Parties to the cases must appear in the courtrooms listed on the paperwork in their cases, unless instructed otherwise by the division handling the case. More information about orders of protection can be found here.

Family Court Administrative Order No. 194

Read the full Administrative Order

Administrative Order 21-30 Circuit Assignments for 2022

Read the full Administrative Order

Administrative Order 21-26 Establishment of Juvenile Justice Preservation Fund

Read the full Administrative Order

Administrative Order 21-23 Criminal Child Support Enforcement Docket

Read the full Administrative Order

2019 RED Report – 11/18/2020


Diversion Programs Help Keep More County Youth Out of Justice System

St. Louis County Circuit Court
105 South Central Avenue
Clayton, Missouri 63105



Diversion Programs Help Keep More County Youth Out of Justice System
Racial Disparities Persist in Delinquency Referrals by Police, Schools, Families

CLAYTON, MO – January 8, 2021 – The majority of juvenile delinquency referrals to the St. Louis Family Court for low level offenses did not result in formal charges, according to a recent report from the Court. The finding, based on 2019 data, reflects the Court’s heightened focus on diverting young people from the juvenile justice system into programs that allow them to remain with their families and communities and stay in school, while providing supervision to ensure that youth comply with the law.

The majority of 2,628 delinquency referrals for County youth under the age of 17 were for misdemeanors, including (in descending order of frequency): assault, stealing, property damage, misdemeanor drug offenses, and peace disturbance. More than half of the referrals (53.2 percent) originated in 10 county Zip codes: nine in North County and one in Lemay.

The report examined 2019 data in an effort to track and address potential racial and ethnic
disparities experienced by Black youth at each step in the juvenile justice system: referral;
informal resolution; informal supervision; pre-adjudication secure detention; petition (filing of a formal charge); adjudication; commitment to the Department of Youth Services for secure confinement, and certification of youth to stand trial in adult court. White youth make up 58 percent all youth aged 10-17 in St. Louis County; Black youth make up 32 percent, according to 2019 census data.

While Black youth were still far more likely than white youth to be referred by police, schools and family members to juvenile authorities for delinquency, racial disparities diminish at subsequent decision points in the court system, including the issuing of formal charges, commitment to the Division of Youth Services, and certification to stand trial as adults.

“The Courts are, in effect, leveling the playing field,” said Presiding Judge Michael D. Burton. “As the data show, Black youth are being referred to juvenile authorities in disproportionately high numbers by police, schools and others. But that striking disproportionality at the front-end of the process – before kids even step foot in juvenile court -- decreases dramatically as the process goes forward.
“That’s because our Family Court is doing everything it can to collaborate with community leaders and advocates to help keep kids out of the system, out of harm’s way, and on a healthy track to responsible adulthood.”

Among the report’s findings were:

    • Black youth were 7.1 times more likely than white youth to be referred to the St. Louis County Juvenile Office, an increase from 5.7 times more likely than white youth in calendar year 2018.
      Nearly 92 percent of delinquency referrals (91.7%) were made by police; the remainder came from schools and parents.
    • About 40 percent of delinquency referrals were resolved informally. Black youth whose referrals were informally handled were more likely to be “counseled and warned,” rather than detained and formally charged. This was also true for Hispanic or Latinx youth.
    • Black youth were 5.0 times more likely than white youth to be admitted to the county’s Juvenile Detention Center before a judge reviewed their cases, an increase from 2.5 in 2018. Youth with a history of out-of-home placements, negative peer influences and use of a weapon were at greater risk of being admitted to the Juvenile Detention Center.
    • Black youth were 2.5 times more likely than white youth to have formal charges filed against them, an increase from 2.0 times more likely than whites in 2018. Prior delinquency referrals, out-of-home placements, negative peer influence and use of a weapon increased the risk of formal charges being filed.
    • White youth were 1.1 times more likely to be sent to diversionary programs than Black youth.
    • Hispanic or Latinx youth were overrepresented at the decision point of petition (formal charges).
    • Asian or Pacific Islander youth were not overrepresented at any decision point in the juvenile justice system.

The report did not attempt to explain why Black youth are chronically overrepresented in the juvenile justice system, noting that research studies have been divided on whether the disparity is the result of more offenses being committed by Black youth; differential treatment of youth of color as a result of racial stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination; the social organization of the juvenile justice system itself, or the characteristics of the communities served by the juvenile courts.

The report made several recommendations, including:

  • The St. Louis County Juvenile Division should continue to partner with police and schools to develop community-based diversion alternatives to prevent youth from entering the juvenile justice system. Those alternatives should be targeted at enhancing equity for youth of color, rather than simply reducing the total number of delinquency referrals.
  • More use should be made of community-based programs in neighborhoods where most of the youth served by the Juvenile Division live.
  • The Court should give youth and their families a voice in decision-making, and encourage active participation in influencing the way the juvenile justice process works.
  • Reevaluate whether the form used statewide to determine whether youth should be placed in detention is race-neutral.
  • Conduct additional surveys, interviews and case analysis to determine how and why racial and ethnic disparities persist.

A complete copy of the report is available here.





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St. Louis County Family Court and MERS Goodwill Receive $500,000 Federal Grant

St. Louis County Circuit Court
105 South Central Avenue
Clayton, Missouri 63105



St. Louis County Family Court and MERS Goodwill Receive $500,000 Federal Grant Funding will be Used to Help Youth Develop Job Skills, Avoid Delinquency

CLAYTON, MO – November 9, 2020 – The St. Louis County Family Court and MERS Goodwill, Inc. have received a $500,000 three-year federal grant to provide career training, professional development and employment opportunities for court-involved youth. Funding from the federal Office of Justice Programs will be used to provide career counseling, job readiness training, volunteer job opportunities, and help for youth in finding and keeping jobs. About 22 percent of the population of St. Louis County is under the age of 18.

“By expanding access to employment programs for youth in our community, we can prevent the need for detention, reduce recidivism and increase job-readiness,” said Judge Sandra Farragut-Hemphill, Administrative Judge of the St. Louis County Family Court. “The program will benefit not only the young participants, but also the broader community as our youth gain the skills they need to succeed at work and stay out of trouble.”

The Court’s impetus for pursuing the grant resulted from direct community feedback, said Tymesha Buckner-Dobynes, Director of Court Programs for the Family Court. Unemployment among teens is chronic problem across the nation. As of last month, the unemployment rate for youth under the age of 18 in St. Louis County was nearly 14 percent – twice the national average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Young people reported that they wanted and needed jobs, not only to help support their families, but also to prevent them from engaging in delinquent acts,” Buckner-Dobynes said.

Twelve- and 13-year-olds will be given training in interpersonal skills for the workplace, and help them set career goals. Youth ages 14-15, a group identified as having the greatest need for employment services, will be given career readiness training and eight-week paid internships with local businesses. The grant will allow the Family Court to provide services to twice as many young people in this age group.

Funding also will be used to give youth ages 16-17 career counseling, individual or group counseling, volunteer work experience, and jobs with local businesses. They will receive at least 90 days of follow-up services including help obtaining state IDs needed to apply for jobs.



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Extension of Ex Parte Orders of Protection

Read the full Administrative Order


The Family Court of St. Louis County is open subject to the Order of the Missouri Supreme Court dated April 1, 2020. Any Family Court proceedings conducted in-person shall be limited to the attorneys, parties, witnesses, security officers and other individuals necessary to the proceedings as determined by the judge presiding over the proceedings. All family court proceedings are subject to the provisions set forth below. This COVID-19 protocol shall remain in effect until further notice. This protocol may be amended as necessary.

Effective April 6, 2020: any Court Order regarding child custody which is otherwise valid, shall remain in full force and effect. Law enforcement shall have authority to enforce custody, visitation and parenting time orders as long as enforcement does not contradict any Order of St. Louis County Juvenile Court, or any self-quarantine guidelines of the St. Louis County Department of Public Health, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other state or federal agency promulgated to contain COVID-19.

If compliance with the custody, visitation or parenting time order would be impossible or dangerous (for example, because a member of the receiving parent’s household has been exposed to COVID-19), the parents are encouraged to make alternative arrangements for exchange by agreement, which may result in extending the time with each parent and /or make up time. If parents are unable to agree, the parties may seek relief through the appropriate legal process. In the absence of an agreement or court order, all parties are expected to safely comply with existing court orders.

Failure to exercise prudent caution may be grounds for a temporary restraining order. Likewise, failure or refusal to comply with a Court Order relating to custody and visitation of children may be grounds for a finding of contempt, which could result in a modification of custody, a fine or monetary sanctions, or imprisonment.

Juvenile Division:

Effective June 15, 2020 the Juvenile Division of the Family Court will begin to set hearings for Adoptions, contested non-detained juvenile cases, Abuse & Neglect contested hearings and TPR cases where there are allegations of abandonment or where parental consent has been given. Protective Custody, Detention, Certifications, Abuse & Neglect and Delinquency Initial hearings, Dispositional Reviews, Permanency, Permanency Review hearings and any cases that involve a detained juvenile will continue to be heard as scheduled. If your case was continued, you will be notified of your next court date. For information on setting Motions in the juvenile divisions, please contact the division clerk for a setting.

Orders of Protection:

Anyone with a case on the Adult Abuse docket will be notified of their court date. If you were granted an ex parte order of protection, that Order will remain in effect until your next court date.

Settlement Conferences:

Pretrial/Settlement Conferences shall resume effective April 6, 2020. Please contact the Division clerk or the respective judge’s web page for information on how Pretrial/Settlement Conferences will be set in a division. Pursuant to Rule of Professional Conduct 4-8.4 and Local Rule 11, settlement conferences SHALL NOT be recorded, nor shall they be used as evidence. At the beginning of each conference, all participants must notify the Court who is present in the room.

If attorneys have previously scheduled matters that conflict with the Court’s scheduled conference time, it is the responsibility of the attorneys to contact the Division three days prior to the setting and reschedule at a mutually convenient time.


All motions shall be submitted on the pleadings. In cases All motions shall be submitted on the pleadings. In cases involving a TRO, a PDL involving custody and motions for contempt contact the division clerk for a setting.

Trials and Non-Custody PDL’s:

Effective immediately the family court will begin hearing cases involving relocation and residential parent determinations and default judgments. Attorneys/Parties are advised to contact the respective division to schedule a settlement conference on these cases. These trials will be conducted remotely by the court.

There will be no other trials or non-custody PDL’s heard at this time. These matters will be rescheduled by the individual divisions.

DRS/Exchange Center and Visitation:

For information on the Exchange Center or supervised visitation, please check the court’s website https://wp.stlcountycourts.com/family-court/domestic-relations/

Parent Education:

Effective immediately completion of the parent education program shall be completed through the on-line St. Louis County Parent Education Program sponsored by Parent Educators, LLC. Proof of completion must be filed with the courts.


Resource Center:

The Resource Center is closed until Friday, May 1, 2020. You may still complete your packet online at www.selfrepresent.mo.gov. New pleadings may be filed at the Office of the Circuit Clerk with your filing fee.


In compliance with the orders of Missouri Supreme Court, the St. Louis County Department of Health and the Presiding Judge of St. Louis County all in person pretrial/settlement shall not be conducted.  Thus, options are set forth below to allow these conferences to take place remotely.


                             a)    Attorneys may contact the Division Clerk and have the call transferred directly to the judge’s telephone in chambers.

                             b)    Attorneys may contact the Division Clerk and have the call transferred directly to the judge’s cell phone, if the clerk’s phone has that capability.

                             c)    An attorney may set up the conference call by notifying the court and opposing counsel via email and providing the toll free telephone number and all applicable codes

                             d)    Attorneys may utilize Zoom.com or Scopia (Webex) to conduct the conference as a teleconference or videoconference.  The court and attorneys would have to download the Zoom or Scopia app.  The court would provide the attorneys with the access code and would start the meeting at the time set for the conference.  The attorneys would need to join the meeting by entering the code at the time set for the conference. (Please note that there may be a maximum of forty (40) minutes allowed for the conference.)

                           e)      Attorneys may contact the court on Freeconferencecall.com.  The court would set up a profile to receive a telephone number, access code and personal pin.  The court would provide the telephone number and the access code to attorneys.  The court would call the telephone number at the time set for the conference, enter the access code, enter the pin number and follow the prompts. The attorneys would call the telephone number at the time set for the conference.


  • To the extent practicable, prior to seeking a TRO, all party attorneys/GALs shall make best efforts to attempt to resolve all pending issues.
  • If the parties require a TRO during the pendency of the above Administrative Order, they must notify the Court and efile and email all relevant pleadings to the Court.
  • If the trial or evidentiary hearing is to exceed 40 minutes, the parties must notify the Court. The Court shall then notify IT so that the IT Zoom longer duration account may be used.
  •  Hearings are scheduled at the discretion of the Division.
  • The division clerk or Judge shall send a Zoom, Scopia/WebEx or teleconference call invitation to the Judge, petitioner’s attorney, respondent’s attorney, GAL and pro se parties, if applicable.
  • Exhibits may be handled one of two ways at the Judge’s discretion:
    • Exhibits may be efiled under a heightened security level to ensure confidentiality until received by the Court. The Division Clerk shall pull the Exhibits and place them in the Judge’s queue for review.
    • Exhibits may be emailed to the Judge, Division Clerk and all parties prior to the proceeding.
  • Each trial will be its own separate meeting invitation to be conducted via Zoom, Scopia/WebEx or teleconference.
  • It is the responsibility of the attorneys to work with one another to determine a way in which their client can participate in the proceedings. 
  • Counsel shall not distribute the judge’s email to the parties or third parties.
  • The hearings shall start on time.  You MUST be logged in to the meeting 5 minutes prior to start time.
  • If any party is having issues connecting via Zoom, Scopia or via teleconference, they are to immediately notify the Court.

Adult Abuse / Order of Protection

The St. Louis County Domestic Violence Court was created to increase safety for victims and their children, increase accountability for offenders and establish a coordinated community response to domestic violence from the justice system and partner agencies.

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Domestic Relations Department

Services involving:

  • Dissolution of Marriage
  • Paternity
  • Orders of Protection
  • The State's child support (Parenting Court) docket
  • Parenting Plans
  • Supervised Visitation
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Updates on the Agreement with the Department of Justice

Read updates on the US Department of Justice.

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Family Court Personnel