MATTHEW T. JACOBSON, Appellant (Defendant),
AIMEE V. KIDD f/k/a AIMEE V. JACOBSON, Appellee (Plaintiff).
from the District Court of Laramie County The Honorable
Catherine R. Rogers, Judge
Representing Appellant: Linda J. Steiner and Abigail E.
Fournier, Steiner Law, LLC, Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Representing Appellee: No appearance.
Guardian Ad Litem: Jacqueline K. Brown, Brown Law Office,
P.C., Casper, Wyoming.
DAVIS, C.J., and BURKE [*] , FOX, KAUTZ, and BOOMGAARDEN, JJ.
Appellant Matthew T. Jacobson (Father) appeals from the
district court's order denying his petition to modify the
order granting Appellee Aimee V. Kidd (Mother) primary
custody of their children. Father claims the district court
abused its discretion by concluding he had not shown a
material change in circumstances to warrant modification of
the order. Mother did not file a brief on
We reverse and remand.
The dispositive issue in this case is: Did the district court
abuse its discretion by concluding that Father had not
demonstrated a material change in circumstances to justify
re-opening the custody and visitation order?
Mother and Father married in 2007, and two daughters were
born to them - MJ in 2007 and KJ in 2008. Mother already had
two sons from a prior marriage to Chris Jones - CJ and ZJ.
Mother and Father divorced in 2009, and the district court
awarded Mother primary physical custody of the girls. Father
was awarded visitation in a complicated order organized
around his work schedule, but generally included visitation
from Thursday at noon until Sunday at 4:00 p.m. on
alternating weeks. Also, during the "off week"
(when Father did not have the girls from Thursday to Sunday),
Father was entitled to one overnight visitation. The order
included a holiday visitation schedule and a summer
visitation schedule which allowed longer consecutive periods
of visitation as the girls got older. In addition, the order
stated that "[e]ach party shall have the right of first
refusal for watching the children when the other parent is in
need of child care for a period of more than two (2)
On August 15, 2011, Father filed a petition to modify the
divorce decree to give him sole custody of the girls. He
1) Mother had attempted suicide by taking an overdose of
medication while the children were in her care;
2) Mother filed a false report that, while working as a
registered nurse, Father stole medication from his employer;
3) On June 9, 2010, while having custody of the children,
Mother was arrested for public intoxication and urinating on
Father's ex-girlfriend's lawn; and
4) Mother did not abide by the visitation requirements of the
The parties reached a settlement during a September 22, 2011
hearing on Father's modification petition. For reasons
not evident in the record, an order on the settlement
agreement was not entered for eight and one-half months. On
June 5, 2012, the district court entered a stipulated and
modified decree of divorce. The order continued the
provisions of the original decree not modified, including
that Mother was the primary custodian, but contained the
1) Father was given visitation with the girls every other
Wednesday from approximately 3:30 p.m. to Sunday at 5:00 p.m.
2) If Father moved to Casper (which he did), he was given
"the option of two overnights (3:30 p.m. to 8:00 a.m.)
with the children in his 'off-week' (not consecutive
and not on the weekend)."
3) Mother was required to engage in professional counseling
and provide Father with sufficient evidence that she was
"attending counseling as recommended by the counselor of
4) Mother and Father agreed to "contact each other
immediately in the event any situation arises whereby they
are unable to personally care for the children. Should this
situation arise, the parent who cannot personally care for
the children shall allow the other parent to have the
children during this time.
On September 29, 2015, Father filed the current petition to
modify custody, visitation and child support, requesting
primary custody of the girls. He asserted that there had been
a material change in circumstances since the 2012
modification because Mother had attempted suicide for a
second time and she was "unstable and unfit to have
primary custody of the children." On January 8, 2016,
Father filed a motion to show cause as to why Mother should
not be held in contempt of court. He alleged Mother violated
the terms of the modified decree in numerous instances.
The district court held an evidentiary hearing on
Father's modification petition and motion to show cause
on May 9-10, 2017. At the hearing, evidence was presented
showing the following incidents involving Mother:
• In March 2012, Mother's boyfriend, Ty Lorenzen,
held her and MJ hostage inside his house with a
Mother texted Father during the standoff, and he retrieved
the child through a window. Father called the police to
report the incident and they arrived with "rifles and
guns" and blocked off the street. The police got Mr.
Lorenzen out of the house, and Mother "was safe at that
• Father testified that he talked to Mother after the
event about "why this can't happen" and
"he [Mr. Lorenzen] can't be around our kids
anymore." Mother testified that she continued her
relationship with Mr. Lorenzen for only one week after the
March 2012 incident.
• However, on September 1, 2012, Mother was arrested for
being a pedestrian under the influence on a roadway when she
was found walking down the highway intoxicated. She had been
in a pickup with Mr. Lorenzen, and he was arrested for
driving while under the influence. Mother resisted the
deputies' attempts to place her in the patrol vehicle.
She later claimed Mr. Lorenzen had beaten her.
• On Labor Day 2012 or 2013,  Mother was arrested. She
claimed that Mr. Lorenzen beat "the crap" out of
her and she thought the police were going to help her.
Instead, they arrested her and eventually "hogtied
• In November 2012, a report was made to police that Mr.
Lorenzen was suicidal. At the evidentiary hearing in this
case, Mother denied that Mr. Lorenzen was suicidal. She
apparently told the officers that Mr. Lorenzen had grabbed
her by the throat, but then explained that they were
"trying to get [Mr. Lorenzen] out of [trouble for]
beating the crap out of [her]" by saying Mr. Lorenzen
was suicidal. Mother initially refused to give a statement to
the police. She eventually gave a statement, although she
admitted she "certainly didn't want to." She
stated that she had a visible injury, but she refused to
allow the police to photograph it.
• On January 18, 2013, a friend of Mother's called
the police for a welfare check on Mother. The friend reported
that Mother "was in a bad relationship with a male named
[Mr.] Lorenzen" and she had told him to "call
police immediately if [the friend] knew Lorenzen was at
[Mother's] residence." When the police arrived at
her house, Mother confirmed Mr. Lorenzen was there and said
that they "had worked out their issues and were back
• In January 2013 or 2014, Mother called the police
asking for a civil standby while Mr. Lorenzen removed his
belongings from her residence. She stated that she wanted to
get the children away from the residence before he came to
get his belongings.
• In March 2013 or 2014, Mr. Lorenzen shot himself in
the head while Mother was present. Shortly after that
incident she requested a protection order because he was
harassing her by calling her from the Wyoming Behavioral
Institute. She also posted on Facebook that if Mr. Lorenzen
ever came near her or her children she would kill him. Mother
stated it was "the last straw" and "he
couldn't be around us anymore."
• In early 2014, Mother had a child, BK, with Sergio
Hernandez. She denied having an on-going romantic
relationship with Mr. Hernandez and stated that her other
children did not know him until after she was pregnant.
• On January 10, 2014, Mother called the police alleging
that Father had dropped KJ off at her house when she was not
home. Father claimed that Mother was home and ...