This opinion will be unpublished and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

C1-01-2080

 

In re the Marriage of:

 

Creig Allen Lisle, petitioner,

Appellant,

 

vs.

 

Doreen Angela Lisle,

Respondent.

 

Filed ­­­June 18, 2002

Affirmed

Harten, Judge

 

Hennepin County District Court

File No. 245742

 

Ronald Resnik, 6200 Shingle Creek Parkway, Suite 340, Brooklyn Center, MN 55430 (for appellant)

 

Brian M. Olsen, Tower Center Mall, P.O. Box 988, Cokato, MN 55321 (for respondent)

 

            Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge, Harten, Judge, and Huspeni, Judge.*

 

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

 

HARTEN, Judge

 

            Appellant father challenges this child custody determination, arguing that the district court abused its discretion in finding that it was in his children’s best interests to remain in the physical custody of respondent, their mother.  Because we find no abuse of discretion, we affirm.

FACTS

            Appellant Creig Lisle and respondent Doreen Lisle were married on 3 November 1990.  They had three children:  K. S., born in 1991; A. J., born in 1993; and K. A., born in 1996.  The parties filed for marriage dissolution in January 1999.  Respondent was awarded temporary physical custody; appellant had visitation every other weekend. 

The district court ordered a child custody evaluation by a family court custody evaluator, who found that both parties had good relationships with their children.  He stated in his report that the “children will thrive from the balance given from contact and interaction from both parents,” but warned that, “if the parties continue fighting maladjustment is inevitable.”  He recommended that the parties share physical custody but concluded that, because respondent was more capable of “providing household stability,” she should have primary care of the children during the school year.

            Following a trial, the district court issued an order that adopted

the findings of the Family Court Services Custody Evaluator * * * as to the best interest of the children.  However, given the parties’ history, their current inability to have contact with one another, and the fact that [r]espondent has been the primary caregiver during the pendency of this matter, this Court finds that the parties are unable to share physical custody equally and further, that it is not in the children’s best interests for the parties to have joint physical custody.  The parties have, however, agreed that they will cooperate in the rearing of their children * * *.  As such, this Court finds that it is in the best interest of the children that the parties share joint legal custody of their three minor children, and that [r]espondent have sole physical custody of the children, subject to parenting time by [appellant] as follows:  every other weekend from 6 p.m. Friday evening until 6 p.m. Sunday evening * * *. 

 

The district court also ordered that appellant have telephone access to the children on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

            Appellant challenges the custody determination.

D E C I S I O N

            Appellate court review of a custody determination is limited to whether the district court abused its discretion by makings findings unsupported by the evidence or by improperly applying the law.  Silbaugh v. Silbaugh, 543 N.W.2d 639, 641(Minn. 1996).  A district court’s findings will not be set aside unless clearly erroneous; a finding is clearly erroneous if the appellate court is “left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been made.”  Fletcher v. St. Paul Pioneer Press, 589 N.W.2d 96, 101 (Minn. 1999) (quotation omitted). The appellate court views the record in the light most favorable to the district court’s findings.  Sefkow v. Sefkow, 427 N.W.2d 203, 210 (Minn. 1988).   The “guiding principal” in custody determinations is the best interests of the children.  Durkin v. Hinich, 442 N.W.2d 148, 152 (Minn. 1989).  The law “leaves scant if any room for an appellate court to question the trial court’s balancing of best-interests considerations.”  Vangsness v. Vangsness, 607 N.W.2d 468, 477 (Minn. App. 2000). 

            Appellant contends that the district court ignored the evaluator’s custody report and testimony.  However, the district court specifically adopted the custody evaluator’s finding and the entire record supports the determination that the parties should not have joint physical custody.       

Both parties testified that they have a poor relationship.  They have had several confrontations in the presence of the children when appellant picked them up for visitation.  Appellant specifically asked that the district court appoint a “visitation or parenting expeditor” to resolve future visitation problems.  Respondent testified that the time she and appellant shared physical custody was “chaos.”  She further testified that they are not able to attend their children’s school meetings together. 

            There is also evidence that the parties’ poor relationship has affected the children.  Appellant acknowledged that the parties’ visitation confrontations have been hard on the children.  Appellant’s current fiancée testified that the children become upset after their parents fight and that “it takes all night to calm them down.”  The custody evaluator testified, “I believe that all the children were aware of the depth of acrimony between the parents.”

            The evidence supports the district court’s conclusion that appellant and respondent are unable to get along.  The district court determined that because of this animosity, it was in the children’s best interests for them to remain with respondent rather than have the parties share joint physical custody.  

             Appellant acknowledges his poor relationship with respondent, but he disputes the finding that it is in the children’s best interests for respondent to have sole custody.  He points to her past treatment for depression.[1]  Although respondent has been treated for depression in the past, Nesser testified that her depression resulted from the dissolution and that he did not think she would need treatment again.

The social worker at the two older children’s school testified that they are doing well; they have struggled with the dissolution, but no more so than other children similarly situated.  She described K.S. as “a very energetic, bubbly little girl” and noted that both K.S. and A.J. have improved self-esteem and have been making friends.  The coordinator of the early childhood program the youngest child attends testified that respondent is a very involved parent and supportive of her children.   She also testified that K.A.’s teacher said K.A. was “smiley and played * * * [was] coming along well * * * [and] had been very good at attending.”  The custody evaluator noted in his report that respondent has a close relationship with her children and is able to provide stability for them and that the children are well adjusted.

  This evidence supports the district court’s finding that respondent provides a stable environment for her children.  The record also supports appellant’s contention that he is a good parent and that his children benefit from spending time with him.  Nevertheless, it is the role of the district court to determine the weight and credibility of all the evidence.  See Sefkow, 427 N.W.2d at 210.  Accordingly, we conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the parties are unable to share physical custody and in awarding respondent physical custody of the parties’ children.

            Affirmed.



* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.

[1] Appellant also argues that respondent should not have physical custody because she moved the children to Willmar, Minnesota.  This move is not in the record.  Even if respondent has moved, however, the evidence still shows that she is able to provide a stable environment for her children.