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Blakely v. Blakely

October 20, 2009

SHANNON BLAKELY, APPELLANT (PLAINITFF),
v.
BRANDON BLAKELY, APPELLEE (DEFENDANT).



Appeal from the District Court of Campbell County The Honorable Michael N. Deegan, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hill, Justice.

Before VOIGT, C.J., and GOLDEN, HILL, KITE, and BURKE, JJ.

[¶1]Shannon Blakely (Mother) appeals from her divorce decree, contending that the district court abused its discretion when it awarded Brandon Blakely (Father) primary residential custody of the parties' two sons, while the half-brother remained in Mother's custody. We affirm.

ISSUE

[¶2] Mother states the single issue as follows:

Whether the District Court erred when it awarded primary residential custody of the parties' two minor children to [Father]?

FACTS

[¶3] The parties to this action married on January 7, 2003. Mother brought a son, CS, into the marriage, and at the time of the marriage, Mother was pregnant with the couple's first son, CB, who was born in May of 2003. The couple's second son, EB, was born in August of 2005. During the relationship, the family lived in Buffalo, but Father often worked out of town.

[¶4] The couple separated in October of 2005, with Mother leaving the home and taking all three boys with her. In June of 2007, Mother officially moved to Gillette with the three boys -- by this time Mother was engaged to another man and expecting her fourth son, who was born in September of 2007. Father, meanwhile, continued to exercise visitation with his two sons.

[¶5] Mother filed for divorce in August of 2007, and both parties requested temporary custody, which the district court awarded to Father on January 25, 2008. The case was tried on July 11, 2008, and at the close of evidence, the court made findings on the record. Ultimately, the court awarded primary residential custody to Father, with visitation to Mother. Mother appeals that decision.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

[¶6] We have stated before that "[c]ustody, visitation, child support, and alimony are all committed to the sound discretion of the district court." Reavis v. Reavis, 955 P.2d 428, 431 (Wyo. 1998).

This Court has consistently recognized the broad discretion enjoyed by a district court in child custody matters. We will not interfere with the district court's custody determination absent procedural error or a clear abuse of discretion. In determining whether an abuse of discretion has occurred, our primary consideration is the reasonableness of the district court's decision in light of the evidence presented. We view the evidence in the light most favorable to the district court's determination, affording every favorable inference to the prevailing party and omitting from our consideration the conflicting evidence.

Durfee v. Durfee, 2009 WY 7, ¶ 6, 199 P.3d 1087, 1089 (Wyo. 2009) (citations omitted).

[¶7] Furthermore,

It has been our consistent principle that in custody matters, the welfare and needs of the children are to be given paramount consideration. The determination of the best interests of the child is a question for the trier of fact. We do not overturn the decision of the trial court unless we are persuaded of an abuse of discretion or the presence of a violation of some legal principle. ...


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