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In re the Parenting of CJ

In re the Parenting of CJ, 2016 MT 93 (April 20, 2016) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the evidence supported the district court’s finding that mother did not interfere with father’s relationship with child, and (2) whether the district court erred in holding that father had a “heavy burden” to show that his proposed restriction on mother’s relocation to Vermont was consistent with the best interests of their child.

Short Answer: (1) Yes, and (2) no.


Facts: CJ was born to Matthew and Stevi in 2012. Stevi is married to Tom, and the couple has a minor child. Matthew lives in Livingston with his partner, who was pregnant with the couple’s child at the time of the final parenting plan hearing.…

In re the Parenting of SEL

In re the Parenting of SEL, 2015 MT 228 (Aug. 11, 2015) (Rice, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred by holding the child’s best interests would be served by allowing her to relocate to Nevada with her mother; (2) whether the district court erred by limiting Father’s visitations while SEL lives in Nevada; and (3) whether the district court erred by denying Father’s motion for relief from the judgment.

Short Answer: (1) No; (2) no; and (3) no.


Facts: Shad Lemke and Siri Aanrud have a daughter, SEL, born in 2008. The parties never married, and their relationship ended by 2010. When SEL was four months old, the parties moved to Shields Valley, Montana, where Mother primarily stayed home to care for SEL.…

Marriage of Sampley

Marriage of Sampley, 2015 MT 121 (May 5, 2015) (Wheat, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court by refusing to hold a hearing prior to issuing its order; and (2) whether the district court erred by deciding it lacked jurisdiction over the parenting and custody issues.

Short Answer: (1) No, and (2) no.


Facts: Matthew and Michelle Sampley married in January 2010 in Canada, and moved to Alaska in October 2010. Cael was born in Alaska in 2011. The family moved to Washington in October 2011, and to Billings in September 2013.

In October 2013, Michelle and Cael moved to Canada to stay with Michelle’s parents. They extended their stay until the end of December 2013. Matthew visited them in Canada for five days in November and 10 days in December.…

In re the Parenting of MC

In re the Parenting of MC, 2015 MT 57 (Feb. 24, 2015) (McKinnon, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court violated mother’s fundamental right to travel by ordering that parties’ minor child should reside in Montana.

Short Answer: No.


Facts: MC was born to Pirkle and Mitchell Collie in Missoula in 2012, and lived there until March 2013 with her parents, who were not married. Pirkle was from Ohio, and moved here to attend the university. She had difficulty finding work after MC was born, and was MC’s primary caregiver.

In March 2013, Pirkle took MC to Ohio to attend a family wedding. After several reasons for not returning, Pirkle told Collie in April 2013 that she and MC were going to stay in Ohio.…

Weibert v. Weibert

Weibert v. Weibert, 2015 MT 29 (Feb. 3, 2015) (McGrath, C.J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in ordering Jim to pay Crissy’s attorney’s fees.

Short Answer: No.


Facts: Jim and Crissy divorced in February 2012. They have one minor child, BW, who is autistic. After a 2011 hearing on Crissy’s proposed relocation to Washington, the district court concluded it was in BW’s best interest to continue living with Crissy. Crissy moved to Washington and has lived there since.

The parties stipulated to a new visitation schedule, which also required Crissy to follow the recommendations of a doctor who had evaluated BW, Dr. Simon-Thomas.

Jim moved to modify the parenting plan in September 2012 to grant him primary custody, claiming Crissy was not following Dr.…

In re SCB

In re SCB, 2015 MT 19 (Jan. 27, 2015) (Cotter, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether district court properly granted venue change in parenting plan action.

Short Answer: No.

Reversed & remanded

Facts: SCB was born in 2006. SCB and Burrington have lived with Burrington’s mother, Hovland, in Flathead County for most of SCB’s life. Hovland financially supports Burrington and SCB.

Burrington was convincted of her fourth DUI in December 2013 and sentenced to four years with the DOC, all suspended. She and SCB moved in March 2014 to Havre. In May 2014 Burrington’s probation officer conducted a home visit, found Burrington severely intoxicated, and called police. Burrington was arrested and detained for 20 days, and Hovland was contacted to pick up SCB in Havre.…