JACOB A. SMITH, Appellant (Petitioner),
CORINDA D. KELLY, Appellee (Respondent).
from the District Court of Platte County The Honorable F.
Scott Peasley, Judge
Representing Appellant: James A. Eddington, Jones &
Eddington Law Offices, Torrington, Wyoming.
Representing Appellee: Raymond D. Macchia and Daniel G.
Blythe, Legal Aid of Wyoming, Inc., Cheyenne, Wyoming.
DAVIS, C.J., and FOX, KAUTZ, BOOMGAARDEN, and GRAY, JJ.
Two years after entry of an Order Approving Stipulation on
Paternity, Custody and Visitation, Jacob A. Smith (Father)
filed a complaint to modify custody claiming there was a
material change in circumstances. After a two-day hearing on
the matter, the district court determined there had been no
material change and denied Father's complaint. He appeals
from that decision. We affirm.
We consolidate the issues presented by Father into a single
Did the district court abuse its discretion when it
determined no material change of circumstances occurred?
In March 2013, Corinda D. Kelly (Mother) and Father had a
brief sexual encounter. At the time, Mother was dating Mr.
Kelly. When Mother discovered she was pregnant, she believed
Mr. Kelly was the father of the child. The child, D, was born
on December 3, 2013. Mother and Mr. Kelly married the same
month. Shortly after D's birth, genetic testing
established Mr. Kelly was not D's biological father.
Mother immediately informed Father of the results. Mother, D,
and Mr. Kelly moved to Florida in the spring of 2014. In
August 2014, Mother and D returned to Wheatland, Wyoming, and
moved in with D's maternal grandmother.
Father lived in Torrington with his mother and stepfather.
Shortly before Mother and D returned to Wyoming, Mother
contacted Father to ask if Father wanted to be part of
D's life. Father said yes and on October 24, 2014, filed
a Petition to Establish Paternity, Custody and Support.
Subsequently, Mother and Father filed a stipulated agreement
establishing joint legal custody with Mother having primary
residential custody. The stipulation contained a visitation
schedule and child support calculations, along with other
arrangements for D's care and financial well-being. On
August 11, 2015, the district court entered an order
approving the stipulation.
Father filed a complaint to modify the order on custody and
visitation on September 15, 2017. Father alleged there had
been a change in circumstances due to Mother's
instability, referencing her numerous jobs, numerous
addresses, numerous romantic relationships, and her emotional
volatility. He also claimed the home was unsafe due to the
presence of various pets and Mother's failure to clean
The district court heard evidence on the modification of
custody on May 21 and 22, 2018. Mother, Father, maternal
grandmother, paternal grandmother, Mother's doctor, and
two of D's daycare providers testified. The evidence
established Mother, Father, and their parents, worked
together to raise D. There were no visitation issues. When
the visitation schedule needed to be changed, Mother and
Father cooperated with each other to make sure D could spend
quality time with both parents. If necessary, the
grandparents would assist with babysitting and facilitate
exchanges for visitation. When D was upset about leaving
Mother for visitation, Mother would talk to D about all the
fun things D would do with Father until D was eager to begin
the visit. Mother and Father communicated regularly about
D's health, school, emotions, and other information
parents share regarding their child. There is no question
that D is surrounded by loving parents and family.
During the period from the 2015 stipulated order until the
2018 hearing on Father's motion to modify custody, Mother
held five different jobs. Her first three jobs did not
include any benefits. In March 2016, she accepted her fourth
job because she believed it would be full-time employment
with benefits. She worked at this job for several months, but
when she did not get the promised hours and benefits, she
accepted her current full-time position which provides