IN RE THE PARENTING OF: L.G.L., A Minor Child. NELSON LUKE OYLER, Petitioner and Appellee, and LYNDSEY LALICKER, Respondent and Appellant.
Submitted on Briefs: September 12, 2018
District Court of the Eighteenth Judicial District, In and
For the County of Gallatin, Cause No. DR-14-172B Honorable
Rienne McElyea, Presiding Judge
Appellant: Kevin S. Brown, Paoli & Brown, P.C.,
Appellee: Margaret Sullivan Braun, Bridger Law, Bozeman,
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
Lyndsey Lailicker (Mother) appeals the Order of the
Eighteenth Judicial District Court, Gallatin County, denying
Mother's Notice of Objections and granting Nelson Luke
Oyler (Father) visitation rights to L.G.L., their minor
child. We affirm.
On November 1, 2013, Mother and Father were married. On July
9, 2014, the marriage was declared invalid on the grounds
that Father lacked the ability to consent to marry due to
mental health issues. At the time of the Declaration of
Invalidity, Mother was pregnant with L.G.L.
On September 5, 2014, Father filed a Petition for Voluntary
Relinquishment of his Parental Rights to L.G.L. in the First
Judicial District Court, Broadwater County. On October 9,
2014, the Broadwater County District Court denied
Father's Petition. In November 2014, Mother initiated an
administrative action with the Montana Child Support
Enforcement Division (CSED) to determine Father's child
On September 1, 2015, Father filed a Petition to Establish a
Parenting Plan in the Eighteenth Judicial District Court,
Gallatin County. On February 15, 2017, the Standing Master
held a hearing on the Petition, during which Mother and
Father both presented evidence and testified. Father called
Dr. Thomas Heriza, his medical provider, and Gallatin County
Father Engagement Specialist Patrick Duganz to provide
testimony as to Father's ability to safely parent L.G.L.
On June 30, 2017, the Standing Master issued its Findings of
Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Final Parenting Plan granting
Father supervised parenting of L.G.L.
On August 29, 2017, Mother, acting pro se after her attorney
withdrew following the hearing, filed a Motion for the Court
to Grant Relief from Judgment. On October 30, 2017, the
Standing Master denied the Motion, determining that Mother
failed to establish grounds for relief and that no specific
objections to the Final Parenting Plan were filed within the
time provided by statute.
On November 8, 2017, Mother filed her Notice of Objections.
On January 11, 2018, the Gallatin County District Court,
despite the untimeliness of the Notice of Objections, held a
hearing. On February 1, 2018, the Gallatin County District
Court denied the Notice of Objections and amended the
Standing Master's Findings of Facts, Conclusions of Law,
and Final Parenting Plan to provide a modified legal
analysis. Mother appeals.
We review de novo a district court's decision to adopt a
standing master's report to determine whether it applied
the correct standards of review to the standing master's
findings of fact and conclusions of law. Patton v.
Patton, 2015 MT 7, ¶ 17, 378 Mont. 22, 340 P.3d
1242 (citing In re G.J.A., 2014 MT 215, ¶ 11,
376 Mont. 212, 331 P.3d 835). In a case tried before a
standing master, "we apply the same standard of review
to an adopted [standing] master's report that we do to
any other district court order." Maloney v. Home
& Inv. Ctr., Inc., 2000 MT 34, ¶ 28, 298 Mont.
213, 994 P.2d 1124.
We review a district court's findings of fact in
parenting plan 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 (citation omitted). "We review a district
court's conclusions of law to determine if they are
correct." Healy, ¶ 18 (citation omitted).
Absent clearly erroneous findings, we will not disturb a
district court's decision regarding parenting plans
unless there is a clear abuse of discretion. In re
C.J., 2016 MT 93, ¶ 13, 383 Mont. 197, 369 P.3d
1028 (citation omitted). A district court abuses its
discretion when it acts "arbitrarily ...