BELLE CAROLINE PADEN, k/n/a BELLE CAROLINE ADAMS, Appellant (Plaintiff),
CHAD JOSEPH PADEN, Appellee (Defendant).
from the District Court of Campbell County The Honorable John
R. Perry, Judge
Representing Appellant: Matthew R. Sorenson, Daly &
Sorenson, LLC, Gillette, Wyoming.
Representing Appellee: DaNece Day, Lubnau Law Office, PC,
BURKE, C.J., and HILL, DAVIS, FOX, and KAUTZ, JJ.
Belle Caroline Adams (Mother) and Chad Joseph Paden (Father)
divorced and, while they both lived in or near Gillette,
Wyoming, shared custody of their daughter, PKP. Mother
remarried and announced her intent to relocate to southern
Colorado. Father petitioned to modify custody, and both
parties sought primary physical custody. The district court
found that PKP's best interests were served by Father
having primary custody. Mother appealed, contending that the
district court abused its discretion. We affirm.
We adopt Mother's statement of the issues:
the district court abuse its discretion when it awarded
primary physical custody to Father?
the district court err in admitting TS's letters into
The parties were married on April 16, 2011. At the time of
their marriage, Mother had two children from previous
relationships, one of whom, TS, then eight years old, resided
with Mother and Father. During their marriage, the couple had
one child, PKP, who was born in December of 2011. Mother and
Father divorced on May 28, 2014, and, under their stipulated
divorce decree, shared custody of PKP. Mother had PKP on the
days when Father worked, and Father had her when he was not
working. Father works a rotating schedule of eight days on
and six days off, which resulted in a nearly even split of
PKP's time between Mother and Father. By all accounts
this arrangement was successful.
Mother married Don Adams in July of 2014. Mr. Adams has a
son, RA, from a previous relationship, who resides with him
part time. In addition, Mother and Mr. Adams had an infant
son. Mother has an inconsistent relationship with her family,
including PKP's maternal grandparents, who were not
invited to her wedding or to visit her home. Father is the
parent who makes sure PKP's maternal and paternal
grandparents are included in her life and are invited to
events such as birthday parties. Father was PKP's primary
caregiver when she was an infant and Mother underwent breast
On October 22, 2014, Mother filed a notice of change of
address, announcing her intent to relocate with TS, PKP, her
new husband, and their baby to Mr. Adams' childhood home
of Pleasant View, Colorado, an eleven-hour drive from
Father's home near Gillette. Shortly thereafter, Father
filed a petition to modify custody and support. Mother filed
a counterclaim, also seeking modification of custody. The
district court held a hearing on July 27, 2016, and
subsequently modified custody, giving Father primary physical
custody, subject to Mother's reasonable visitation.
We "review orders modifying custody, visitation and
child support for an abuse of discretion . . . ."
Greer v. Greer, 2017 WY 35, ¶ 19, 391 P.3d
1127, 1133 (Wyo. 2017) (quoting Tracy v. Tracy, 2017
WY 17, ¶ 46, 388 P.3d 1257, 1267 (Wyo. 2017)). Judicial
discretion is composed "of many things, among which are
conclusions drawn from objective criteria" and
"means exercising sound judgment with regard to what is
right under the circumstances and without doing so
arbitrarily and capriciously." Aragon v.
Aragon, 2005 WY 5, ¶ 7, 104 P.3d 756, 759 (Wyo.
2005). We "will not disturb an order regarding custody
or visitation so long as the court could reasonably conclude
as it did." Greer, 2017 WY 35, ¶ 19, 391
P.3d at 1133. "We evaluate the reasonableness of a
decision in relation to the evidence presented, viewing it in
the light most favorable to the district court's
determination, affording every favorable inference to the
prevailing party, and ignoring any conflicting
evidence." Id. (citations omitted).
We also review a district court's decision on the
admissibility of evidence for an abuse of discretion. In
re Paternity of HLG, 2016 WY 35, ¶ 7, 368 P.3d 902,
904 (Wyo. 2016). We accord district courts' rulings on
the admissibility of evidence considerable deference and will
not disturb such rulings on appeal if there is a legitimate
basis for the ruling. Id. (citing Wise v.
Ludlow, 2015 WY 43, ¶ 42, 346 P.3d 1, 12 (Wyo.
2015)); Aragon, 2005 WY 5, ¶ 21, 104 P.3d at
I.Did the district court abuse its discretion when it
awarded primary ...