Briefs: September 29, 2016
Matthew W. Howell, Esq., Clark & Howell, LLC, York, for
appellant Taylor Clark.
Kenneth P. Altshuler, Esq., Childs, Rundlett, Fifield &
Altshuler, LLC, Portland, for appellee Morgan A. Leeman.
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, and
Taylor Clark appeals from the District Courts (York,
Janelle, J.) judgment granting Morgan Leemans motion
to modify a parental rights and responsibilities order
pertaining to their daughter, a minor child. Because the
District Court did not abuse its discretion in granting the
modification, we affirm.
The court made the following findings, which are supported by
the record. On February 8, 2011, the District Court issued a
parental rights and responsibilities judgment pertaining to
Clark and Leemans minor child. The judgment allocated
parental rights and responsibilities to the parties, granted
primary physical residence to Clark, and made specific
provisions for Leemans contact with the child.
In the summer of 2014, Clark expressed his desire to relocate
with the child from Massachusetts-where he resided at the
time of the action-to Illinois. Because the parties would be
living a considerable distance apart, they sought and
obtained a modification of the order to reflect this change
in circumstances. Clark, however, never took the child with
him to Illinois. Instead, the child remained in
Massachusetts, where she resided with her grandmother and
attended the local elementary school. Clark never told Leeman
that the child had not moved, and he purposefully misled her
about the childs location. As a result of Clarks course of
conduct, Leeman was unable to see the child for over five
Upon learning that the child was living in Massachusetts,
Leeman petitioned the court to modify the order. After a
hearing, the court granted Leemans motion and changed the
childs primary residence from being with Clark to being with
Leeman. In its order, the court concluded that Clarks actions
"were clearly not in the best interests of [the child]
and, in fact, were detrimental to her." Specifically,
the court determined that Clarks dishonest acts
"disrupted [the childs] relationship with [Leeman] and
required her to be a part of this subterfuge from her
mother." Clark has timely appealed. See M.R.
App. P. 2(b)(3).
Standard of Review
On appeal, Clark argues that the court erred in granting the
modification, arguing that the change in her primary
residence was not in the childs best interest. We review the
trial courts ultimate decision to modify a parental rights
and responsibilities order for abuse of discretion ...