MELANIE G. BOYD
EDWARD W. MANTER
Briefs: October 24, 2017
F. Barnicle, Esq., Moncure & Barnicle, Brunswick, for
appellant Edward W. Manter
Anthony P. Shusta II, Esq., Law Offices of Anthony P. Shusta
II, Madison, for appellee Melanie G. Boyd
SAUFLEY, C.J., and MEAD, GORMAN, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.
Edward W. Manter appeals from an amended judgment entered in
May 2017 by the District Court (Skowhegan, Benson,
J.) granting Manter's motion to modify and amending
the parties' 2008 divorce judgment [Nivison, J.)
as amended in 2008 [Nivison, J.) and 2011
[Darvin, J.). On appeal, Manter argues that the
court erred and abused its discretion when it (1) modified
the parents' rights of contact; (2) denied his motion for
amended or additional findings; and (3) determined that he
was in arrears of his child support obligation. We affirm the
judgment with respect to the parents' rights of contact,
but vacate the court's determination that Manter was $10,
692.58 in arrears of his child support obligation and remand
for further proceedings.
Manter and MelanieG. Boyd are the parents of one minor child.
The parties were divorced by a judgment that was issued in
2008 and was later modified in 2008 and 2011. In the 2011
modification, Boyd was granted primary physical residence of
the child and Manter was ordered to pay child support. In
December 2015, Manter filed a motion to modify the divorce
judgment and requested that (1) the child's primary
residence be changed to his home and Boyd be awarded rights
of contact; (2) final decision making related to education,
medical health, and mental health be allocated to Manter; and
(3) Boyd be ordered to pay child support to Manter.
See 19-A M.R.S. § 1657 (2017); 19-A M.R.S.
§ 2009 (2017).
Since 2008, the courts and the guardian ad litem have noted
that "a lack of communication and hostility...
characterize  the parties' parenting
relationship." In the present proceeding, the contact
schedule was repeatedly identified as a major source of
stress for the parties and the child. Between 2011 and 2017,
the child's primary residence was with Boyd during the
school year, but the child's contact schedule required
multiple transitions between the parents each week during the
school year and summer.
[¶4] On March 27, 2017, after a three-day testimonial
hearing, the court entered an order on Manter's motion to
modify the parties' amended divorce judgment. Manter
filed a motion for amended or additional findings, pursuant
to M.R. Civ. P. 52(b), and a motion to amend the judgment,
pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 59(e), which the court denied, while
granting in part Boyd's motion to amend the judgment. The
amended order modifying the divorce judgment preserved the
child's primary residence with Boyd and eliminated
several of the child's transitions between the parents.
The court also entered a new child support order to reflect
Manter's increased salary and Boyd's decreased
salary. The court made the child support award
"retroactive to the date of service" and found that
Manter was in arrears in the amount of $10, 692.58. Manter
timely appealed the amended order modifying the divorce
judgment and the denial of his motion for additional or
amended findings. See 14 M.R.S. § 1901 (2017);
M.R. App. P. 2(b)(3) (Tower 2016).
Manter first argues that the court abused its discretion when
it modified the contact schedule. "The trial court is
afforded broad discretion in determining the custody and
residence of minor children, and we review the court's
decision ... upon a motion to modify a divorce judgment for
an abuse of discretion." Akers v. Akers, 2012
ME 75, ¶ 2, 44 A.3d 311. "The trial court's
factual findings are reviewed for clear error."
Id. Because the court denied Manter's motion for
additional or amended findings, "we cannot infer
findings from the evidence in the record." Ehretv.
Ehret, 2016 ME 43, ¶ 9, 135 A.3d 10L
When a court considers the modification of a divorce
judgment, it must determine the best interest of the child by
examining the factors in 19-AM.R.S. § 1653(3) (2017).
See Akers, 2012 ME 75, ¶ 3, 44 A.3d 311.
"We review the court's factual findings related to
the child's best interest to determine whether they are
supported by competent evidence in the record. The ultimate
determination of the weight to be given each factor requires
careful consideration by the court and is left to the sound
discretion of the court." Id. (citation
Contrary to Manter's contentions, the court did not abuse
its discretion or err when it modified the contact schedule.
The court considered the relevant best interest factors and
found that both parents have a strong bond with the child and
both parents "would work hard to provide her with a good
and stable life, " but that maintaining continuity of
primary residence with Boyd was "of critical
importance." The court also found that the current
situation was "intolerable for the parties, as well as
for [the child], " and that the parties' dispute
resolution abilities "are nearly zero." The court
was guided by these factors when it ordered the new contact
schedule. The new contact schedule maintains continuity for
the child and reduces the transitions that cause conflict and
stress for the child and the parties. Therefore, the new
contact schedule presents a reasonable option that the court
concluded is in the child's best interest. See