This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In Re the Marriage of:
Theresa Katherine Claviter,
William Randall Claviter,
Filed January 29, 2002
St. Louis County District Court
File No. F899100921
Carl A. Blondin, 7475 15th Street North, Suite 204, Oakdale, MN 55128 (for appellant)
Mary I. Johnson, Johnson Law Firm, 208 Fifth Avenue South, P.O. Box 1172, Virginia, MN 55792 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge, Schumacher, Judge, and Klaphake, Judge.
In this action dissolving her marriage to respondent William Claviter, appellant Theresa Claviter alleges that the district court abused its discretion by awarding custody of their child, R.M.C., to respondent. Appellant argues that the court erred in failing to consider evidence that respondent had made false allegations of child abuse against her and in crediting respondent’s testimony after he testified falsely under oath as required by Minn. Stat. § 518.17, subd. 1a (2000). Because the district court properly considered the “best interests” factors set out in Minn. Stat. § 518.17, subd. 1(a) (2000), and because there is a factual basis in the record to support the court’s findings on these factors, we affirm.
Appellate review of a custody determination is limited to “whether the [district] court abused its discretion by making findings unsupported by the evidence or by improperly applying the law.” Silbaugh v. Silbaugh, 543 N.W.2d 639, 641 (Minn. 1996) (quotation omitted). Findings are unsupported by the evidence or clearly erroneous if the reviewing court is left with a firm conviction that a mistake was made. Vangsness v. Vangsness, 607 N.W.2d 468, 472 (Minn. App. 2000). Findings are reviewed in the light most favorable to the district court’s findings. Id. This court gives great deference to the district court’s opportunity to assess the credibility of witnesses. Sefkow v. Sefkow, 427 N.W.2d 203, 210 (Minn. 1988).
The overriding concern in custody determinations is the best interests of the child. Schumm v. Schumm, 510 N.W.2d 13, 14 (Minn. App. 1993). The court determines the child’s best interests by reviewing the factors listed in Minn. Stat. § 518.17, subd. 1(a) (2000). No one factor may be relied on to the exclusion of others; specifically, the determination of who has been the child’s primary caretaker, while important, is not controlling. Id. Likewise, while the court is directed to consider whether a party has violated Minn. Stat. § 609.507 (2000), by making a false allegation of abuse with the intent to influence a custody hearing, this is also just one of the factors used to determine the best interests of the child. Minn. Stat. § 518.17, subd. 1a (2000).
In its findings, the district court recognized that neither party had been fully truthful in his or her dealings with the court and with court personnel. It is clear that the court considered the issue and reached conclusions about the credibility of the parties and their testimony. We defer to the district court in these matters.
The district court made specific findings on each of the statutory factors listed in Minn. Stat. § 518.17, subd. 1(a). Those findings indicate that although both parties are loving and concerned parents, respondent is more likely to provide a stable and consistent environment for R.M.C., particularly in light of the continuing hostility between the parties. Our review is limited to determining whether there is evidence to support the court’s findings, whether the findings are clearly erroneous, and whether the court has misapplied the law. We are satisfied that the court’s decision is supported by the record and that the court properly applied the law.