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Kirkpatrick and Kirkpatrick

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 03-07-2012
Case #: A147038
Hadlock, J. for the Court; Ortega, P.J.; and Sercombe, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/sites/Publications/A147038.pdf

Family Law: Failure to promote a healthy relationship between parent and child can constitute a substantial change in circumstances.

Mother appeals a supplemental judgment that modified the custody of her children. Mother and Father are divorced with three sons. Upon dissolution, the trial court awarded custody to Mother as primary caretaker. Subsequently, Father filed several motions to find Mother in contempt of the custody agreement. At trial, evidence was presented that Mother denied visitation over Christmas, during a child’s birthday, and threatened to tell Father's employer that he had stolen in an attempt to force reduced parenting time. The trial court found Mother in contempt, ruling that her interference constituted a substantial change in circumstances and a custody change would be in the children's best interests. Mother appealed, arguing the missed parenting time was insufficient to amount to a substantial change in circumstances and it was not in the children’s best interest. The Court of Appeals held the failure to promote a healthy relationship between parent and child can constitute a change in circumstances and the Court denied addressing the “best interest” finding. Affirmed.