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Waldron v. Waldron

Supreme Court of Wyoming

May 1, 2015

RYAN JOHN WALDRON, Appellant (Defendant),
v.
ANNDEE MAE WALDRON, n/k/a ANNDEE MAE HAMILTON-COOPER, Appellee (Plaintiff)

Appeal from the District Court of Sweetwater County. The Honorable Nena James, Judge.

Representing Appellant: Michael Stulken, Attorney at Law, Green River, Wyoming.

Representing Appellee: Eric Phillips, Attorney at Law, Rock Springs, Wyoming.

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

OPINION

DAVIS, Justice.

[¶1] Approximately six years after their divorce, Appellant Ryan Waldron (Father) and his ex-wife (Mother) filed separate proceedings relating to their child in Wyoming and Pennsylvania. Mother sought to terminate Father's parental rights with respect to their seven-year-old son, and Father asked the Wyoming court to instead enter orders to facilitate the exercise of his visitation rights. The district court in Sweetwater County declined to exercise jurisdiction under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA).[1] Father objected to the district court's order, and the court

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denied his objection more than two months later. Thereafter, Father filed a notice of appeal from the order ruling on the objection.

[¶2] Father's objection was in substance a motion to reconsider the order declining to exercise jurisdiction. Such a motion does not toll the time for taking an appeal. Because the only notice of appeal Father filed was untimely, we must dismiss.

FACTS

[¶3] Father and Mother divorced in May of 2007 when their son was approximately seven months old. Mother was granted primary physical custody of the child, and Father was awarded visitation. On October 29, 2010, the district court issued an order limiting him to supervised visitation at the Sweetwater County Family Resource Center. Apparently that order resulted from Father's physical abuse of his second wife while these parties' child was present, and the boy's resulting traumatization and need for counseling.

[¶4] Mother also remarried, and sometime late in the spring of 2011, she, the parties' son, and her new husband moved to Pennsylvania. Father also moved to Natrona County from Sweetwater County. Mother ultimately filed an action seeking to terminate his parental rights in Pennsylvania, evidently anticipating that her new husband would adopt the child if that relief was granted.

[¶5] On November 1, 2013, Father filed a " Verified Motion for Contempt and Motion to Cause Visitation to Progress" in the district court in Sweetwater County. He acknowledged that Mother had commenced termination proceedings in Pennsylvania, and that a hearing had been scheduled in that case. However, he also asserted that Mother had frustrated his efforts to exercise visitation with their son, and that she was using his lack of contact with the child against him in the termination case. Father claimed that Mother's conduct violated previous court orders, and he asked that she be held in contempt, and that the court establish a new visitation schedule.

[¶6] Mother responded to those motions on January 3, 2014, denying that she had interfered with Father's exercise of his visitation rights. She pointed out that he was required to make arrangements with the Sweetwater County Family Resource Center to supervise visitation with their son, but that he had done so only once since her move to Pennsylvania, and that she had transported the boy to Wyoming for that purpose on that one occasion. Mother also noted that Father initiated only a few contacts of any kind with the child since the move, and that he quit paying child support at the end of October 2012. She contended that he filed his motions in Wyoming in response to the termination proceedings in which he had already appeared in Pennsylvania, and she asked the district court to reject his request to hold her in contempt. ...


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