IN RE THE PARENTING OF: S.W.B.S., Minor Child, BRYAN SINRAM, Petitioner and Appellee, and MICHALA BERUBE, Respondent and Appellant.
Submitted on Briefs: November 8, 2018
FROM: District Court of the Eleventh Judicial District, In
and For the County of Flathead, Cause No. DR 14-502(B)
Honorable Robert B Allison, Presiding Judge
Appellant: Paula M. Johnson-Gilchrist, Johnson-Gilchrist Law
Firm, P.C., Whitefish, Montana
Appellee: Tiffany B. Lonnevik, Lonnevik Law Firm, P.C.,
Michala Berube (Mother) appeals from an order of the Eleventh
Judicial District Court, Flathead County, amending her
parenting plan with Bryan Sinram (Father). While Mother
presents nine issues on appeal, we summarize her arguments
and restate the dispositive issue as:
the District Court err in amending the parties' parenting
We conclude the District Court did not err and therefore
affirm its order amending the parties' parenting plan.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
S.W.B.S. was born to Mother and Father in December 2012.
Mother and Father never married and, in 2015, when S.W.B.S.
was two years old, the District Court approved the
parties' stipulated parenting plan (Initial Parenting
Plan). Both parents lived in Kalispell and the plan's
residential schedule provided that Mother would parent four
days a week while Father would parent three days a week. The
residential schedule contained a holiday schedule that
contemplated S.W.B.S. entering school; it provided specific
arrangements for spring and winter breaks "applicable
when kindergarten begins" and clarified that
"school attendance takes priority over the holiday"
schedule. The residential schedule also contained a
subsection entitled "School (when applicable)" and
delineated instances in which the parties could remove
S.W.B.S. from school.
The plan further provided that Mother and Father would make
certain parenting decisions-specifically those regarding
S.W.B.S.'s schooling and healthcare-together. If the
parties were unable to agree upon those parenting decisions,
the plan provided that they were to make a good-faith effort
to resolve the issues through dispute resolution processes
before bringing their disagreements to the court. The plan
also contained a provision entitled "Modification"
(Modification Provision), which provided:
The parties agree that the above schedule shall be reviewed
and modified as necessary if there are significant change in
circumstances or when the minor child begins kindergarten to
consider the developmental changes, needs, and best interest
of the child at that time. They shall begin discussions of a
schedule at least 6 months prior to the start of
kindergarten. Both parties agree that the above schedule must
be modified to some extent so that both parents may enjoy a
full weekend parenting time with the child.
After the District Court approved the Initial Parenting Plan,
Mother had two more children and moved to Columbia Falls. As
S.W.B.S. aged, Mother and Father continuously disagreed on
notable parenting decisions, such as whether S.W.B.S. should
attend preschool and whether S.W.B.S. should be vaccinated.
The parties tried to mediate the issues but could not agree.
Therefore, in May 2017, Father filed a motion to permit
school enrollment, amend the parenting plan, and modify child
support. Specifically, Father wished to enroll S.W.B.S. in
preschool and vaccinate him. Father also sought an amended
residential schedule, as contemplated by the Initial
Parenting Plan's Modification Provision, in anticipation
of S.W.B.S. beginning kindergarten the next fall. Mother
objected to Father's motion. The District Court held a
hearing regarding Father's motion in August 2017.
Ultimately, the District Court denied Father's request to
enroll S.W.B.S. in preschool and granted his request to
vaccinate S.W.B.S. The District Court further determined
that, in light of its Modification Provision, the Initial
Parenting Plan's residential schedule should change as
soon as S.W.B.S. entered kindergarten. The District Court
memorialized those decisions in an order modifying the
parenting plan. That ...