Submitted on Briefs: May 10, 2017
FROM: District Court of the Eleventh Judicial District, In
and For the County of Flathead, Cause No. DR 14-129 (D)
Honorable David M. Ortley, Presiding Judge
Appellant: Paul Messer, Self-Represented, Montreal, Quebec,
Appellee: Teresa Woehler, Self-Represented, West Glacier,
Jeremiah Shea Justice
Pursuant to Section I, Paragraph 3(c), Montana Supreme Court
Internal Operating Rules, this case is decided by memorandum
opinion and shall not be cited and does not serve as
precedent. Its case title, cause number, and disposition
shall be included in this Court's quarterly list of
noncitable cases published in the Pacific Reporter and
After a four-day trial, the Eleventh Judicial District Court,
Flathead County, entered Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law
and Order on Parenting Plan, Child Support and Contempt.
Appellant Paul Messer appeals. We affirm.
In 2009, Paul and Teresa Woehler (Teresa) dissolved their
marriage in the Cardiff Court, Wales, United Kingdom (U.K.).
Paul agreed to pay £450 per month in child support for
their two children. In April 2012, Paul relocated to Quebec,
Canada, and stopped paying child support. In August 2012, the
Cardiff Court issued a "Provisional Order"
requiring Paul to pay £500 per month in child support.
Paul was served with the Provisional Order, but chose to
ignore it. He did not challenge the Order in the Cardiff
Court. Teresa attempted to register the Order in a Quebec
Court, but it was rejected because Quebec lacks a reciprocal
agreement with the U.K.
In September 2013, the Cardiff Court issued a "Contact
Order" granting Teresa leave to relocate to Montana with
the children, and setting terms for a visitation schedule for
Paul. The Order reflected Paul's consent to Montana's
jurisdiction, stating: "Father consents to Montana
having jurisdiction as the father of the children and
relating to any and all issues concerning the children."
In February 2014, after relocating to West Glacier, Montana,
with her children, Teresa filed with the Flathead County
Clerk of District Court a "Verified Petition to Register
Foreign Order Regarding Custody Determination"
accompanied by an original copy of the Cardiff Court's
Contact Order. Paul did not object or raise any defense to
the registration of the Contact Order.
In December 2014, Teresa filed the Verified Petition in the
Flathead County District Court, along with a "Motion for
Contempt, for Attorney's Fees and Costs, for Amendment of
Parenting Plan, for Mediation and for Order to Show Cause and
Brief in Support." At the same time, Teresa also filed a
copy of the Cardiff Court's Provisional Order. Teresa did
not strictly comply with the procedural requirements to
register a support order because she did not file a certified
copy of the Order. Paul did not object to the manner in which
the Provisional Order was filed after being served with a
copy of the registration of the Order.
On December 22, 2014, Paul voluntarily appeared before the
Flathead County District Court via a Petition for Contempt in
which he requested that Teresa be held in contempt for her
alleged failure to follow the Cardiff Court's Contact
Order. Paul filed his Answer to Teresa's Petition on
January 8, 2015.
Paul argues the District Court erred by recognizing the
Provisional Order as a final order because the District Court
never registered or modified the Provisional Order. Paul also
argues the District Court erred in its calculation of child
support by using incorrect exchange rates and by including
Teresa's claimed anticipated medical costs and child care
costs. Finally, Paul argues the District Court erred in
awarding Teresa fifty percent of her legal fees, because it
did not consider the errors Teresa caused in filing unfounded
motions for contempt and incorrectly filing the Provisional
We review a district court's findings of fact in
parenting plans and child support orders to determine whether
they are clearly erroneous. Healy v. Healy, 2016 MT
154, ¶ 18, 384 Mont. 31, 376 P.3d 99. A finding of fact
is clearly erroneous if it is not supported by substantial
evidence, if the district court misapprehended the effect of
the evidence, or if our review of the record convinces us
that the district court made a mistake. Healy,
¶ 18. We review a district court's conclusions of
law to determine if they are correct. Healy, ¶
18. Where legal authority exists to award attorney fees, we