This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. ß 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).

 

 

STATE OF MINNESOTA

IN COURT OF APPEALS

A06-364

 

In re the Marriage of:

Joyce Kathleen Grover, petitioner

Appellant,

 

vs.

 

David Allen Grover, Jr.,

Respondent.

 

Filed October 17, 2006

Affirmed

Ross, Judge

 

Koochiching County District Court

File No. F7-04-203

 

David G. Kuduk, Meredith E. Lins, Legal Aid Service of Northeastern Minnesota, 201 Northwest Fourth Street, Grand Rapids, MN 55744 (for appellant)

 

Steven M. Shermoen, Steven M. Shermoen Law Office, 501 Fourth Street, P.O. Box 1152, International Falls, MN 56649 (for respondent)

 

 

Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge; Ross, Judge; and Forsberg, Judge.*

 

U N P U B L I S H E D ††O P I N I O N

 

ROSS, Judge

 

††††††††††† This appeal arises from a custody dispute in a marriage dissolution.† The district court, after considering the best interests of the partiesí child, granted sole physical custody to respondent-father David Grover.† Appellant-mother Joyce Grover argues that the record does not support several of the district courtís findings and that the district courtís determination is based on improper considerations and bias.† Because the district courtís findings have record support and because we find no error or bias, we affirm.

FACTS

Joyce Grover and David Grover married in December 1983.† In November 1999, they began providing foster care to E.G., who was born in October 1997.† The parties adopted E.G. in May 2000.† E.G. has fetal alcohol syndrome, and the parties receive monthly social security disability benefits on E.G.ís behalf.† The parties lived in International Falls for most of their marriage.†

The parties separated in November 2001.† They signed a marital-termination agreement, and the district court issued an order in August 2005 dissolving their marriage by the terms of the agreement.† The district court awarded the parties joint legal custody of E.G.Becausethe parties could not agree onphysical custody and parenting time, the court reserved the issues for trial.

At trial, David Grover testified that he intended to relocate to suburban Atlanta, Georgia, to live with a woman whom he intends to marry.† This woman lives with her eight-year-old son and twelve-year-old daughter.† Joyce Grover testified that E.G. has a well-developed network of friends and family in International Falls and that relocating E.G. to Georgia would have a detrimental effect on E.G.† After the trial, the district court found that the parties shared the role of primary caretaker equally and that E.G. ďhas a close, loving relationship with each parent.Ē† It noted that although ď[t]here will be some slight disconnecting with people important to [E.G.ís] life,Ē E.G. makes friends easily and David Grover intends to have E.G. maintain contact with her family and friends in Minnesota when she is in Georgia.† The district court found that David Grover is more realistic about E.G.ís special needs and will be more likely to provide E.G. with a stable home and a more permanent family experience.† The district court also found that E.G. will have access to more professional resources to meet her special needs in Atlanta.† Based on these and other findings, the district court issued an order granting David Grover sole physical custody and allowing him to relocate with E.G. to Georgia.

Joyce Grover moved for amended findings and conclusions or, in the alternative, a new trial.† The district court denied her motion, amending only its conclusions on issues unrelated to this appeal.† Joyce Groverís appeal challenges the district courtís physical custody determination.

D E C I S I O N

Joyceís challenge requires us to review the district courtís custody decision.† Our review of that decision is limited to determining whether the district court abused its discretion by making findings unsupported by the record or by improperly applying the law.† Silbaugh v. Silbaugh, 543 N.W.2d 639, 641 (Minn. 1996); Pikula v. Pikula, 374 N.W.2d 705, 710 (Minn. 1985).† A district court also abuses its discretion by making a custody decision that is contrary to logic.† Rutten v. Rutten, 347 N.W.2d 47, 50 (Minn. 1984).† The district court must support its custody determination with detailed findings on the best interests of the child.† Minn. Stat. ß 518.17, subd. 1(a) (2004); Rogge v. Rogge, 509 N.W.2d 163, 165 (Minn. App. 1993), review denied (Minn. Jan. 28, 1994).

Joyce Grover first argues that several of the district courtís findings that support its custody determination are clearly erroneous.† A finding is clearly erroneous if the reviewing court is left with a definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been made.† Vangsness v. Vangsness, 607 N.W.2d 468, 474 (Minn. App. 2000).† When considering a challenge to the district courtís findings, we view the record in the light most favorable to the district courtís determination and give deference to the district courtís credibility determinations.† Id. at 472.† ďThat the record might support findings other than those made by the [district] court does not show that the courtís findings are defective.Ē †Id. at 474.

After thoroughly reviewing the record in the light most favorable to the district courtís findings, we conclude that its findings do not warrant reversal.† David Groverís testimony supports the findings.† Although Joyce Groverís testimony contradicted many of his assertions, the district court is in the best position to weigh the evidence, and we defer to its credibility determinations.† Haefele v. Haefele, 621 N.W.2d 758, 763 (Minn. App. 2001), review denied (Minn. Feb. 21, 2001); see also In re Welfare of D.L., 486 N.W.2d 375, 380 (Minn. 1992) (stating that district court ďretains broad discretion because of its opportunity to observe the parties and hear the witnessesĒ).† In this close case, the record might also support findings contrary to those made by the district court, and it is possible on this record that we might have reached a different outcome than the district courtís decision.† But based on our deferential standard of review of factual determinations, we cannot conclude that the district courtís findings are clearly erroneous.

Joyce Grover next argues that the district court inappropriately considered her previous marriages and an incident in which she was discharged from employment for misconduct.† She argues that the district court erred by considering these events because they occurred before the parties adopted E.G.† When weighing a childís best interests, the district court should not consider conduct that does not affect a parentís relationship with the child.† Minn. Stat. ß 518.17, subd. 1(b) (2004).† The district court related Joyce Groverís conduct to the child.† It considered her previous marriages in determining that David Grover is more likely to provide E.G. with a stable and permanent home environment.† And the district court discussed Joyceís employment misconduct only as it related to her credibility and her testimony that she was not involuntarily discharged from her job.† Joyce Groverís allegations of improper considerations overstates and misconstrues the district courtís reliance on these events, and we conclude that the court did not err by considering them.

Joyce Grover argues finally that the district courtís custody determination resulted from the courtís biased consideration of her sexual orientation and unmarried status.† But the district court expressly stated, ď[I]t doesnít make any difference to me whether sheís sexually oriented in one [manner] or another,Ē and its findings do not mention her sexual orientation.† We do not identify any record support for her argument that the district court ďautomaticallyĒ preferred David Groverís proposed two-parent household to her one-parent household.† The district courtís determination did not expressly or implicitly rely on a presumption favoring two-parent households butóand only in partóon its determination that David Grover and his fiancťe will provide a more stable family unit for E.G.† Our review of the record reveals nothing that substantiates Joyce Groverís claim that the district courtís order is the result of improper bias or preference.

Affirmed.



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