IN RE THE PARENTING OF: R.W.W., A minor child, TRINA I. WOLF, Appellant/Petitioner, WALTER E. WOLF, Appellee/Respondent.
J. Wolf (Trina) and Walter E. Wolf (Walter) have one child in
common, fourteen-year-old R.W.W. The Eighteenth Judicial
District Court issued a 29-page Findings of Fact, Conclusions
of Law, and an Order regarding petitioner's (Trina)
objections to professional team's report, setting forth
parenting arrangements, and addressing respondent's
(Walter) notice of intent to relocate. The order placed
R.W.W. in sole custody of Walter, required all contact
between Trina and R.W.W. to be at R.W.W.'s desire and
request, and approved Walter's intent to relocate to
Costa Rica once he posts a $1 million bond. Trina has filed a
notice of appeal of the final order entered May 7, 2018.
District Court has denied Trina's motion to stay the
judgment pending appeal. On June 25, 2018, Trina filed with
this Court a motion to stay the District Court order pending
appeal. On July 2, Walter filed a brief in opposition to
and Walter are the biological parents of R.W.W., born in
October of 2004. The parties' marriage was dissolved in
2011 and a final decree was entered incorporating the terms
of their agreed parenting plan, which provided for parenting
to be shared between the parties. In January of 2014,
R.W.W.'s court-appointed guardian ad litem became
concerned that Trina was engaged in behaviors detrimental to
R. W. W. 's best interests. The guardian ad litem
requested emergency relief and filed an affidavit with the
court detailing her concerns. The court appointed Dr.
Christopher Hahn to investigate and make recommendations to
the court regarding R.W.W.'s welfare. Dr. Hahn met with
R.W.W. on ten different occasions and conducted in-home
observations in each parent's home. In September 2014,
Dr. Hahn issued a Parenting Investigation Report which the
court implemented on November 6, 2014, as an interim
parenting plan. On January 7, 8, and 9, 2015, the court
conducted a trial on the request for emergency relief and
modification of the parenting plan. On April 21, 2015, the
District Court issued a second interim parenting plan and
appointed a parenting coordinator, Dr. Michael Butz, to
coordinate therapeutic efforts between the parties'
personal counselors and R.W.W.'s counselor. R.W.W.
selected Dr. Hallie Banziger as his counselor.
December 15, 2015, and June 2-3, 2016, a trial was held
regarding entry of a Final Parenting Plan. Dr. Banziger
testified that any parenting time with Trina be supervised
based on R, W.W.'s suicidal ideations and extreme level
of stress while in her care. Dr. Butz, who provided reports
to the court every two weeks, testified to his concerns about
R.W.W.'s well-being when in Trina's care. Trina
requested that R.W.W. undergo a psychological evaluation,
which the court granted. Dr. Dee Woolston reported R.W.W. was
exposed to extraordinary parental manipulation. Trina
presented her own expert witness, Dr. Robert Geffner. Dr.
Hahn recommended a schedule whereby R.W.W. would live
exclusively with Walter, with Trina having only supervised
parenting time, following a stabilization period for R. W.W.
wherein he would have no contact at all with Trina.
20, 2016, the court issued a forty-three page Findings of
Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order setting forth in
comprehensive detail its reasons for ordering the Final
Parenting Plan. The court incorporated all its findings from
its thirty-page order entered April 21, 2015. R.W.W. would
reside exclusively with Walter and after a period of time
with Walter, Trina could resume parenting time in a
supervised four-hour parenting block every other week. The
court established a "Professional Team" comprised
of psychologists for the principals and a Parenting
Coordinator (retired District Court Judge, the Honorable Wm.
Nels Swandal, was subsequently appointed). The court tasked
the Professional Team with monitoring R.W.W., monitoring
Trina's conduct, and recommending more frequent contact
between R.W.W. and Trina when it would be consistent with R,
W.W.'s best interests. On September 14, 2016, prior to an
order adopting a final parenting plan, the team filed a
report suggesting beginning written communication between
R.W.W. and Trina. On October 17, 2016, the court entered an
order implementing the recommendations of the Professional
Team. On October 20, 2016, the court entered an order
adopting a Final Parenting Plan, which accorded with its July
20, 2016, Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.
appealed. In a June 2017 unpublished opinion, this Court
concluded that the District Court's determinations were
supported by substantial evidence, that a dramatic change in
the parenting of R.W.W. was necessary to protect R.W.W.'s
best interests, that Trina's First Amendment claim was
without merit, that there was support in the record for the
Final Parenting Plan, and the creation of the Professional
Team was not an unconstitutional delegation of authority.
Wolf v. Wolf (In re R.W.W.), No. DA 16-0717, 2017 MT
174N, ¶21-22, 2017 Mont. Lexis 519.
August 21, 2017, the Professional Team filed a Parenting
Coordinator's Report. On August 22, the District Court
issued a Notice and Order Regarding Parenting
Coordinator's Report soliciting any objections to the
Professional Team's recommendations. Trina objected to
the recommendations and the court set a hearing for December.
Upon motion by Trina, the hearing was continued and took
place on March 8-9, 2018. On May 7, 2018, the District Court
issued the 29-page Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and
an Order regarding petitioner's (Trina) objections to
professional team's report, setting forth parenting
arrangements, and addressing respondent's (Walter) notice
of intent to relocate. The court reviewed testimony from the
Professional Team who overall found that Trina pursues her
own agenda without regard to the needs of R.W.W. and that
forcing R.W.W. to have a relationship with Trina would be
more harmful than good. Concluding there had been a
substantial change in circumstances since the 2016 parenting
plan was adopted, taking into consideration R.W.W. wishes to
reside solely with Walter, and the Professional Team's
recommendations, the court concluded R.W.W. would reside
solely with Walter and have no contact with Trina unless he
wished. The court concluded Walter could relocate to Costa
Rica upon posting a $1 million bond.
then filed a motion to stay the implementation of the May 7
parenting plan pending an appeal to the Supreme Court. On
June 13, 2018, the District Court denied Trina's motion
MOTION ON APPEAL
argues the District Court erred and that she has demonstrated
"good cause for the relief requested." M. R. App.
P. 22(1)(a)(iii). Citing a four-factored test, she contends
(1) that she has shown that she is likely to succeed on the
merits, (2) that she will be irreparably injured absent a
stay, (3) that no other interested parties will be
substantially injured, and (4) that the public interest is in
her favor. Walter argues Trina has failed to provide
any compelling reason as to why it would be in R, W.W.'s
best interest to grant the motion and issue a stay.
order denying Trina's motion to stay, the District Court
found, based on the record, that R. W. W. does not desire
contact with Trina, does not feel emotionally safe with her,
and a reunification effort would be detrimental to R,
W.W.'s health. The court found R.W.W. will not be
irreparably injured absent a stay as the record shows R.W.W.
was excited about moving to Costa Rica. The court found Trina
had failed to show that she would be irreparably damaged
absent a stay, as there are no visits or communication
between R.W.W. and Trina currently. Based on the record,
Walter is supportive of the District Court's continued
jurisdiction and will submit to the $ 1 million bond
requirement, ensuring that Walter will comply with future
App. P. 22(3) provides that this Court has, in the interests
of justice, discretion to grant or deny motions to stay
district court orders pending appeal.
has failed to demonstrate that the imposition of a stay in
this matter is within the best interests of R. W. W. We hold
it would not be within ...