MARK C. KLEIN
JESSICA A. (DEMERS) KLEIN
Argued: May 15, 2019
D. Feldman, Esq. (orally), Hallett Whipple Weyrens, Portland,
for appellant Mark C. Klein
Christopher R. Causey, Esq. (orally), Bourque Clegg Causey
& Morin LLC, Sanford, for appellee Jessica A. (Demers)
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and
Mark C. Klein appeals from a judgment of the District Court
(Portland, Cashman, J.) granting a divorce from
Jessica A. Demers and setting parental rights and
responsibilities between them as to their minor child and
from the denial of his motion for further findings of fact.
We vacate the judgment in part and remand.
Klein and Demers were married on January 2, 2015, and in
September of that year, Demers gave birth to the parties'
daughter. Although Klein and Demers initially worked together
to care for their daughter, their relationship began to
deteriorate over the next year, culminating in Klein moving
out of the family home and Demers taking the child out of the
state but later returning.
In late 2016, Klein filed a complaint for divorce against
Demers, and after several failed mediations, the court held a
three-day hearing solely on the issue of parental rights and
responsibilities. On October 17, 2018, the court issued its
judgment, awarding Demers primary residence of the child and
allocating parental rights and responsibilities between Klein
and Demers as "generally . . . shared . . . subject to
the allocation of final decision making to [Demers]."
The court also created a phased schedule for Klein's
contact with the child that increased his visitation with the
child over four distinct periods of time, culminating in one
four-hour period each week combined with overnights every
Klein filed a motion for reconsideration, see M.R.
Civ. P. 59(e), and a motion for further findings of fact,
see M.R. Civ. P. 52(b). The court denied both
motions. Klein timely appealed. See M.R. App. P.
2B(c)(1); 14 M.R.S. § 1901 (2018); 19-A M.R.S. §
Klein contends that the court abused its discretion by
allocating final decision-making authority to Demers and by
placing limitations on his contact with the child. We review
an award of parental rights and responsibilities for an abuse
of discretion. See Dube v. Dube, 2016 ME 15, ¶
5, 131 A.3d38l; Violette v. Violette, 2015 ME 97,
¶ 30, 120 A.3d 667. We review the denial of Klein's
motion for further findings for an abuse of discretion as
well. See Mooar v. Greenleaf, 2018 ME 23, ¶ 7,
179 A.3d 307.
In making factual findings, a court "is free to accept
or reject the testimony of individual witnesses in whole or
in part, and it is free to reject testimony that is not
contradicted if it finds that testimony incredible."
In re Marpheen C, 2002 ME 170, ¶ 5, 812 A.2d
972. In doing so, the court "must consider all properly
admitted evidence" and then apply "its independent
judgment to that evidence in reaching its findings and
conclusions." Id. In the normal course, we may
"assume that [the court] found all facts necessary to
support its judgment." Mooar, 2018 ME 23,
¶ 7, 179 A.3d 307. However, when, like here, a motion
for further findings has been filed and denied, "we
cannot infer findings from the evidence in the record."
Douglas v. Douglas, 2012 ME 67, ¶ 27, 43 A.3d
965. Instead, the court's "judgment [must be]
supported by express factual findings that are based on
record evidence, are sufficient to support the result, and
are sufficient to inform the parties and any reviewing court
of the basis for the decision." Mooar, 2018 ME
23, ¶ 7, 179 A.3d 307 (quotation marks omitted).
In this case, the court's judgment does not contain the
express factual findings that are necessary to support its
conclusion that allocation of final decision-making authority
to Demers and limitations on Klein's contact is in the
best interest of the child. Although the court described the
testimony of the parties and witnesses at length, it did not
state what testimony it believed or what findings it made on
the basis of that testimony. See, e.g., In re Brandon
D.,2004 ME 98, ¶ 4, 854 A.2d 228 ("Many of
the statements ... begin with the phrase 'the witness
testified that,' but a few sentences contain the phrase
'the court concludes' or 'the court finds....
[F]rom the context, it appears that the court is summarizing
testimony.'"); In re Marpheen C, 2002 ME
170, ¶ 5, 812 A.2d 972 ("A summary of ...