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Loran v. Loran

Supreme Court of Wyoming

February 19, 2015

SHERRI LYNN LORAN, Appellant (Plaintiff),
v.
JUSTIN RAY LORAN, Appellee (Defendant)

Appeal from the District Court of Park County. The Honorable Steven R. Cranfill, Judge.

For Appellant: Thomas P. Keegan of Keegan & Winslow, P.C., Cody, Wyoming.

For Appellee: John P. Worrall of Worrall and Greear, P.C., Worland, Wyoming.

Before BURKE, C.J., and HILL, KITE, DAVIS, and FOX, JJ.

OPINION

Page 401

DAVIS, Justice.

[¶1] Sherri Lynn Loran (Mother) appeals the district court's denial of her motion for relief from an order on child custody, visitation and support. The order awarded her primary custody, but granted Justin Loran (Father) liberal visitation and allowed him to pay joint presumptive support pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 20-2-304(c). Mother claims that the visitation awarded to Father is a de facto shared custody arrangement, and that the district court did not make the findings necessary to support such an arrangement or an award of joint support.

[¶2] We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings.

ISSUES

[¶3] 1. Did the district court abuse its discretion when it refused to set aside provisions of an order that expressly found shared custody inappropriate but nonetheless awarded Father liberal visitation resulting in the minor children spending 41.6% of the year with him in 2014?

2. Did the district court abuse its discretion when it awarded joint presumptive child support without determining that both parents contribute substantially to the expenses of the children as required by Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 20-2-304(c)?

3. Does the order awarding Father visitation contain a clerical mistake that the district court should have corrected if it had acted within the proper scope of its discretion?

FACTS

[¶4] The parties married in 2002, but after a decade in which they had four children together, Mother filed for divorce in 2012. The district court held a divorce trial in October 2013, and promptly entered a divorce decree which dissolved the bonds of matrimony but reserved the issues of child custody, support, visitation, and division of marital property until a written decision could be entered.

Page 402

[¶5] In December 2013, the district court issued a decision letter which resolved all but one of the reserved issues, and shortly thereafter entered an order incorporating and implementing the rulings contained in the decision letter. After a thorough review of the evidence and application of relevant factors, it awarded primary custody to Mother and rejected Father's request for shared custody, explaining that:

The Court finds that shared custody is not an effective solution for this case. The lack of effective communication between the parties, as well as other factors, strongly weigh against it. The Court finds that [Mother] should have primary custody with reasonable visitation by the [Father].

[¶6] Father was awarded liberal visitation, which allowed the children to stay with him all but the last weekend of each month, on every Wednesday night, during defined time periods on specific alternating holidays, and two weeks of uninterrupted summer vacation.

[¶7] The court indicated in its decision letter that it was unable to calculate child support because Father had not submitted an updated financial affidavit as he had been ordered to do, and it directed him to file that affidavit so that the calculation could be made and another order awarding child support could be entered. When Father's counsel tallied the visitation up for purposes of making a support calculation, he determined that Father would have parenting time of 152 out of 365 days in 2014. By his calculation, this would be 41.6% of the year.

[¶8] Consequently, Father's counsel wrote a letter to the district court explaining that his client would qualify to pay joint presumptive support pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 20-2-304(c). Father would pay less support if he was entitled to joint presumptive support than if he was not and instead had to pay support based on the regular child support tables.

[¶9] In January of 2014, Mother filed a motion seeking relief from the order awarding visitation under Wyoming Rules of Civil Procedure 60(a) and (b)(1). She argued that there must have been a mistake, clerical or otherwise, because the court made it very clear in its order that shared custody was not appropriate, but nonetheless awarded Father visitation of more than 40% in 2014. Mother ...


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