IN RE THE PARENTING OF: L.R.S.
AUSTIN SCHWARZ Respondent and Appellee, VICKI RAE SCHWARZ and QUENTIN GOTFRIED SCHWARZ, Petitioners and Appellees, KRISTY BROCKWAY, Respondent and Appellant.
FROM: District Court of the Sixth Judicial District, In and
For the County of Park, Cause No. DR-16-101 Honorable Jon A.
Oldenburg, Presiding Judge
Appellant: Karl Knuchel, Aaron Brann, Karl Knuchel, P.C.,
Appellees: Jami Rebsom, Jami Rebsom Law Office, P.L.L.C.,
Kristy Brockway, mother of minor child L.R.S., appeals from
an order of the Sixth Judicial District Court, Park County,
granting Vicki Rae Schwarz and Quentin Gotfried Schwarz,
L.R.S.'s paternal grandparents, visitation. We reverse
and remand for further proceedings.
We restate the issue on appeal as:
Absent a consideration of whether the minor child's
mother was fit, did the District Court err in awarding
visitation, pursuant to § 40-4-228, MCA, to the
child's paternal grandparents over mother's
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Kristy Brockway (Mother) and Austin Schwarz (Father) are
L.R.S.'s parents. Mother and Father divorced when L.R.S.
was a baby, and as part of their dissolution proceeding
stipulated to a fifty-fifty parenting schedule. After the
parties separated, Father lived with his parents, Vicki and
Quentin Schwarz (Grandparents), and, accordingly, L.R.S. also
lived with Grandparents during Father's parenting time.
Father's brother, Tristan Schwarz, lived with
Grandparents as well. Both Father and Tristan struggled with
chemical dependency and addiction issues.
When Father's dependency problems came to light, Mother
and Grandparents became concerned with Father's ability
to parent L.R.S. Eventually, Father began an out-of-state
inpatient treatment program and the District Court ordered
that any contact between Father and L.R.S. needed to be
approved by L.R.S.'s counselor. Grandparents remained
close with L.R.S. and worked with Mother to facilitate
visitation. The parties' relationship became strained,
however. Mother did not want Tristan around L.R.S. and
further requested that Grandparents not discuss Father with
L.R.S. Instead, she requested that Grandparents redirect any
of L.R.S.'s questions about Father back to her. Mother
observed that her instructions were not being followed, as
L.R.S. had contact with Tristan and Grandparents discussed
Father with L.R.S. Thus, Mother was no longer comfortable
with L.R.S.'s contact with Grandparents and stopped
Grandparents subsequently filed a petition in District Court,
seeking visitation with L.R.S. After a hearing, the District
Court issued an order awarding Grandparents visitation
pursuant to § 40-4-228(3), MCA, finding that visitation
with Grandparents was in L.R.S.'s best interests as
analyzed under § 40-4-212, MCA. Mother appeals that
We review a district court's interpretation and
application of statutes for correctness. Polasek v.
Omura, 2006 MT ...