may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In Re the Marriage of:
Darnel Roxann Anderson-Slama, petitioner,
John Robert Slama,
Filed September 1, 1998
Clay County District Court
File No. F797194
John T. Gassmann, P.O. Box 385, 141 Second Avenue Southeast, Valley City, N.D. 58072, and
Jay D. Carlson, First National Bank Building, 15 Broadway, Suite 206, P.O. Box 448, Fargo, ND 58107 (for appellant)
Wayne W. Carlson, Vogel, Kelly, Knutson, Weir, Bye & Hunke, L.T.D., 502 First Avenue North, P.O. Box 1389, Fargo, ND 58107-1389 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Short, Presiding Judge, Schumacher, Judge, and Davies, Judge.
This action arises out of a 1997 dissolution judgment and decree, in which Darnel Anderson-Slama's former spouse was awarded sole physical custody of the parties' three minor children. On appeal, Anderson-Slama argues the trial court abused its discretion by awarding her former spouse sole physical custody of the parties' children, and considering her sexual misconduct when determining custody. We affirm.
A trial court has broad discretion to resolve custody issues. Rutten v. Rutten, 347 N.W.2d 47, 50 (Minn. 1984). We will not reverse a trial court's custody determination absent an abuse of that discretion. Ayers v. Ayers, 508 N.W.2d 515, 518 (Minn. 1993). This court sustains the trial court's findings of fact unless clearly erroneous. Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01.
In awarding physical custody of a child, a trial court must consider numerous factors to determine the best interests of the child. See Minn. Stat. § 518.17, subd. 1(a) (Supp. 1997) (listing 13 factors relevant to best interests of child). Courts may not use one factor to the exclusion of all others. Id. Nor may courts use the primary caretaker factor as a proxy for the best interests of the child. See id. (proscribing use of primary caretaker factor as presumption in determining best interests of child); Maxfield v. Maxfield, 452 N.W.2d 219, 222 (Minn. 1990) (holding primary caretaker factor is not to be applied mechanically, but in light of all relevant statutory factors).
Anderson-Slama argues there is no record support for the trial court's decision to award sole physical custody to her former spouse. We disagree. The trial court made detailed findings, addressing all the statutory factors in Minn. Stat. § 518.17, subd. 1(a). Those findings are supported by evidence that: (1) both parents sought physical custody; (2) the parties' children were too young to express a parental preference; (3) although Anderson-Slama had been the primary caretaker of the parties' children, both parties were capable of assuming that role; (4) Anderson-Slama's former spouse was physically and mentally healthy; (5) Anderson-Slama suffered from a mood disorder, which might cause her to make impulsive decisions and engage in risk-taking behavior in times of stress; (6) Anderson-Slama had, in the past, engaged in inappropriate behavior such as embezzling funds from an employer, driving under the influence, taking steps to commit suicide, controlling her weight by practicing bulimic behavior, leaving her oldest daughter (from a previous marriage) home alone when she was five years old, and making a "sex tape" of herself and two friends and giving that tape to another person; (7) Anderson-Slama minimized the seriousness of her mental condition to others; (8) Anderson-Slama had an inconsistent work history; (9) Anderson-Slama had a poor relationship with her family, while her former spouse had a strong relationship with his family; and (10) Anderson-Slama prevented her former spouse's involvement in the care-taking of the parties' two youngest children. Viewing this evidence in a light most favorable to the trial court's determination and deferring to the trial court's opportunity to judge credibility, the record contains ample evidence to support the trial court's findings. See Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01 (affording due regard to opportunity of trial court to judge credibility of witnesses); Ayers, 508 N.W.2d at 521 (concluding court must review evidence in light most favorable to findings).
Anderson-Slama also argues the trial court's decision to award sole physical custody to her former spouse is contrary to logic. See Moylan v. Moylan, 384 N.W.2d 859, 864 (Minn. 1986) (stating appellate court will reverse trial court for an abuse of discretion if it finds clearly erroneous conclusion that is against logic and facts on record) (quoting Rutten, 347 N.W.2d at 50). However, given Anderson-Slama's mental health issues and her minimizing the significance of those issues, we cannot say the trial court's grant of sole custody to Anderson-Slama's former spouse was contrary to logic. See Pikula v. Pikula, 374 N.W.2d 705, 711 (Minn. 1985) (concluding recognition of importance of emotional and psychological stability to child's sense of security, happiness, and adaptation underlies "best interests" factors).
Anderson-Slama further argues the trial court abused its discretion by considering her sexual misconduct when determining child custody. See Minn. Stat. § 518.17, subd. 1(b) (Supp. 1997) (providing court shall not consider conduct of proposed custodian that does not affect custodian's relationship to child). However, the trial court considered Anderson-Slama's sexual misconduct in relation to her mental health, and how that conduct might potentially cause emotional and physical harm to the parties' children. See McCabe v. McCabe, 430 N.W.2d 870, 873-74 (Minn. App. 1988) (concluding findings with respect to mental health are appropriate under Minn. Stat. § 518.17), review denied (Minn. Dec. 30, 1988). Under these circumstances, the trial court could properly consider Anderson-Slama's sexual misconduct when determining child custody. Because the trial court made detailed findings of the relevant statutory factors, and the record supports those findings, we conclude the trial court did not abuse its discretion in awarding sole physical custody to Anderson-Slama's former spouse. See, e.g., Schumm v. Schumm, 510 N.W.2d 13, 15 (Minn. App. 1993) (affirming award of custody to father where findings on mother's mental and physical health, as well as other statutory factors, are supported by record).