from the District Court of Park County The Honorable John A.
Representing Appellant: Christopher J. King of Greear Clark
King, P.C., Worland, Wyoming
Representing Appellee: Alex H. Sitz, III of Meinecke &
Sitz, LLC, Cody, Wyoming
BURKE, C.J., and HILL, DAVIS, FOX, and KAUTZ, JJ.
Landon Gregory Greer (Father) and Alba Rosy Greer (Mother)
were divorced in October of 2014, while both lived in Cody,
Wyoming. Mother received custody of the children, and Father
was awarded liberal visitation tailored to his seasonal work
schedule. When Mother was unable to find suitable employment
in Cody, she found a job in Arizona, and moved there with the
children after giving Father notice of the move. Mother filed
for a change in Father's visitation, and Father
cross-filed for a change in custody and to have Mother held
in contempt. The district court declined to change custody or
to hold Mother in contempt. Father appealed, contending that
both decisions were an abuse of discretion. We affirm.
We restate the issues presented as follows:
1. Did the district court abuse its discretion when it did
not change custody from Mother to Father after Mother
relocated from Cody, Wyoming to Chandler, Arizona?
2. Did the district court abuse its discretion in failing to
hold Mother in contempt after Father was unable to exercise
visitation ordered in the decree due to her move to Arizona?
Mother was born in the Dominican Republic, and she and Father
met when he was on a church mission there. After his mission
was complete and he had returned to the United States, Father
went back to the Dominican Republic and asked Mother to marry
him. She agreed and immigrated to Cody, Wyoming, where Father
resided. They were married a few months later.
Mother was able to learn English, obtain citizenship, and
complete an online bachelor's degree in criminal justice
from the University of Wyoming. During the marriage, Father
worked in the family paving business, and Mother was a
stay-at-home mom. Father also served on the Cody City
Council. The couple had two children, DBG (male, born 2006)
and MRG (female, born 2008).
The relationship began to unravel, and Mother filed for
divorce early in 2014. Custody and financial issues were
hotly contested in a two-day divorce trial held in September
2014. The district court entered a comprehensive divorce
decree memorializing the above facts on October 21, 2014. The
court declined to award joint physical custody as requested
by Father, and instead awarded Mother primary physical
However, the court awarded Father liberal visitation,
including six consecutive weeks during January through March
when he was not so busy in the paving business. Mother was
awarded the marital home.
Mother was unable to obtain suitable employment in Cody after
the divorce. She later testified that she applied for
approximately thirty jobs, including at a fast-food
restaurant and Walmart. She was able to work part-time
cleaning houses and teaching Zumba classes. Her employment
prospects were probably not enhanced by criminal charges
involving an altercation with Father involving a firearm. She
was charged with domestic battery and reckless endangerment.
She was ultimately allowed to plead guilty to only one of the
charges and received a deferred sentence under Wyo. Stat.
Ann. § 7-13-301. She later testified that she was placed on
probation for a year, which had almost elapsed without a
violation at the time of the custody hearing involved in this
appeal. The guilty plea was accepted but not entered by the
court, and if Mother successfully completes her probationary
period, she will not have a criminal record on this charge,
as it will be dismissed.
Mother was not able to keep up with her financial
commitments, and so she made an arrangement with a friend to
transfer her an interest in the marital home she had received
in the divorce in exchange for a line of credit of up to
$100, 000. By February of 2016, she had borrowed around $70,
000 against the home.
After taking a trip to Phoenix, Mother eventually decided
that she would look into employment in that area. Her
preliminary inquiries generated interest from prospective
employers - her ability to speak both Spanish and English
made her more employable in an area with a larger Hispanic
population. She was eventually offered a job as a
receptionist at the Maricopa County Public Defender's
office in the Phoenix area. It paid around $10.00 per hour
and included benefits.
Mother notified Father of her intention to move with the
children on June 3, 2015, and filed a notice of address
change as required by the parties' divorce decree on June
12. She also filed a motion for change of Father's
visitation to adjust to the planned move on June 19. Father
responded with a petition to modify custody, support, and
visitation, asking the court to award him primary custody and
to otherwise modify the decree to adjust to this change. He
also asked the court to hold Mother in contempt because (we
infer) he was not able to exercise his regular visitation due
to the move.
Meanwhile, Mother encountered complications with her plan to
go to work for the Maricopa County Public Defender's
office. Arizona requires a person who works for governmental
entities or in child or elder care to have an
card. We gather from the record that when one applies for
such a card, she is fingerprinted and her criminal record is
checked. Mother was notified that she did not qualify for a
card because of the Cody charges or deferral.
However, an exception can be made for good cause. Mother was
able to obtain support from members of the Cody community,
including the judge who sat on her criminal case, and she
eventually received the required card under the good-cause
exception. Father points out that she moved to Arizona
without a job, because she could not be employed at the
public defender's office without the card. She was
unemployed from June until September, waiting for the card.
In the meantime, Mother found a different job as a substitute
teacher at a charter school, working for a private company
that supplies substitutes to schools. That job paid $22.00
per hour, with no benefits, on a contract basis. Mother
worked 25 to 30 hours per week, which allowed her to get her
children ready for school and meet them at the end of the
school day. At the time of the custody hearing, she had been
offered a permanent position with the charter school at which
she had been a substitute. This position will provide
benefits. She was not sure of the salary or hourly rate of
her new job at the time of the hearing.
The children attend a school which has a number of two-week
breaks throughout the year, rather than a traditional long
summer break. Father is unable to exercise the six continuous
weeks of visitation during the slow season for paving that he