Thursday, July 19, 2012

Summary 2012 WY 98

Summary of Decision July 19, 2012

Justice Golden delivered the opinion for the Court. Affirmed.


Docket Number: S-11-0130, S-11-0131


Appeal from the District Court of Sublette County, Honorable Marvin L. Tyler, Judge.

Representing Appellant: Elizabeth Greenwood and Inga L. Parsons, Attorneys at Law, Pinedale, Wyoming

Representing Appellee: Sky D. Phifer of Phifer Law Office, Lander, Wyoming

Date of Decision: July 19, 2012

Facts: These combined appeals arose out of post-divorce proceedings. In No. S-11-0130, Father appealed the district court’s order denying his petition to modify the parties’ divorce decree, which granted mother primary physical custody of their minor child, and to grant him primary physical custody of their child. In No. S-11-0131, Father appealed the district court’s order that he pay Mother $4,680 for attorney’s fees and costs that she incurred in defending Father’s petition to modify custody.

Issues: Father presented five issues for our review, which the Court has rephrased for the sake of simplicity as follows:

I. Whether the district court erred in finding unconstitutional a clause in the Stipulated Divorce Decree which provided that a move out of state by either party constituted a material change of circumstances sufficient to seek a modification of custody.

II. Whether the district court erred in finding there had not been a material change in circumstances to justify a change in custody

III. Whether the district court erred in finding that a modification of custody would not be in the best interests of the child.

IV. Whether the district court reversibly erred in admitting hearsay statements of the child’s treating physician and excluding certified copies of the criminal convictions of Mother’s brother and her current spouse.

V. Whether the district court erred in awarding Mother reasonable attorney fees.

Holdings: The clause in the parties’ divorce decree providing that either parties’ relocation outside Wyoming would constitute a material change of circumstances justifying consideration of custody modification was invalid as speculative, and the district court properly disregarded the provision. The Court further found Father was not prejudiced by the appealed evidentiary rulings, and found no clear error in the court’s determination that Father had not proven a material change of circumstances warranting a custody modification. Finally, the district court did not abuse its discretion in its award of attorney’s fees and cost. Affirmed.

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

[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. You will also note when you look at the opinion that all of the paragraphs are numbered. When you need to provide a pinpoint citation to a quote the universal portion of the citation will use that paragraph number. The pinpoint citation in the P.3d portion will need to have the reporter page number. If you need assistance in putting together a citation from this, or any future opinion using the Universal Citation form, please contact the Wyoming State Law Library and we will provide any needed assistance]

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