Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Summary 2009 WY 7

Summary of Decision issued January 27, 2009

Summaries are prepared by Law Librarians and are not official statements of the Wyoming Supreme Court.

Case Name: Durfee v. Durfee

Citation: 2009 WY 7

Docket Number: S-08-0036

Appeal from the District Court of Weston County, the Honorable John R. Perry, Judge.

Representing Appellant Mother: Christopher M. Wages of Goddard, Wages & Vogel, Buffalo, Wyoming.

Representing Appellee Father: Mark L. Hughes of Hughes Law Office, Sundance, Wyoming.

Facts/Discussion: Jill Durfee (Mother) challenged the district court’s order which denied her petition to modify the parties’ divorce decree that awarded Christopher Durfee (Father) primary physical custody of their two children. The order also granted Father’s petition to modify Mother’s child support obligation and ordered Mother to pay half of Father’s attorney fees and costs.

Custody Modification: Mother, as the party seeking to modify the child custody provisions of a divorce decree, bears the burden of showing that a material change in circumstances has occurred. If that showing is made, the party must also show that modification would be in the best interests of the children. Mother alleged that she and Father agreed to renegotiate custody after she got back on her feet but the argument was not supported by evidence produced at the hearing below. In addition, although an improvement in the personal development of one parent may constitute a material change in circumstances, a change in custody is not automatic. Mother’s evidence essentially showed she was in a stable relationship and lived in a nice house. Although commendable, the Court agreed with the district court that it was not material enough to warrant reopening the initial custody determination. Mother also contended that Father’s personal condition has deteriorated. The Court’s review of the record satisfied it that none of Mother’s allegations justified a finding of a material change in circumstances.
Child Support and Attorney Fees: Mother’s argument for child support and attorney fees was that if she were to prevail on the first issue, then she should prevail on these two issues as well.

Conclusion: The Court found no abuse of discretion in the district court’s determination that no material change in circumstances existed warranting modification of custody. Because Mother did not prevail on the first issue, the other issues she presented were moot.


J. Golden delivered the decision.

Link: http://tinyurl.com/csyb8s .

[SPECIAL NOTE: This opinion uses the "Universal Citation." It was given an "official" citation when it was issued. You should use this citation whenever you cite the opinion, with a P.3d parallel citation. Please note when you look at the opinion that all of the paragraphs are numbered. When you pinpoint cite to a quote, you should cite to this paragraph number rather than to any page number. If you need assistance in putting together a citation using the Universal Citation form, please contact the Wyoming State Law Library.]

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