Missouri Division of Family Services, Social Services

Administrative agencies in Missouri are created by the Missouri legislature and are intended to, among other things, lessen the burden placed on courts and provide more streamlined, efficient services in certain areas of need. Domestic services — particularly in the area of paternity, child custody, and child support — is an example of such an area.
The division of family services and social services can do many things a court can do. They can make paternity determinations. They can enter child custody orders ad modify them. They can enter child support orders and modify them. They can even enforce child support orders. Some things, such as dissolution of marriage and legal separation, simply cannot be ordered by administrative agencies, and are instead the exclusive jurisdiction of courts.
What’s the difference between a court adjudication and a division of family services (“DFS”) adjudication? For one, the process is much more informal in a DFS hearing. DFS hearings off take place over the phone, whereas court settings must take place in court. More importantly, court rulings supersede and trump contrary DFS hearings. Similarly, DFS findings and adjudications are not necessarily binding on a court.
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