Submitted On Briefs: July 18, 2019
F. Hess, Esq., The Law Office of Scott F. Hess, LLC, Augusta,
for appellant Nancy Bergin
C. Granger, Esq., Acadia Law Group, LLC, Ellsworth, for
appellee Daniel Bergin
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, and HJELM,
Nancy Bergin appeals from a judgment of the District Court
(Ellsworth, Roberts, J.) granting a divorce from
Daniel Bergin, setting parental rights and responsibilities
between them as to the parties' three minor children,
denying her request for an order for protection from abuse,
and denying her motion for further findings of fact. Nancy
argues that the court erred and abused its discretion by
granting Daniel primary residence of the children and final
decision-making authority in regard to the children; by
allowing an expert on parental alienation to testify; by
declining to award her continuing spousal support; and by
denying her request for an order for protection from abuse.
We affirm the judgment.
Over five days in September and October 2018, the court held
a final hearing on Nancy's complaints for divorce and
protection from abuse against Daniel. On February 7, 2019,
the court issued its judgment allocating parental rights
between the parties, with Daniel awarded final
decision-making authority and the right to provide primary
residence to the children. The court denied Nancy's
request for an order for protection from abuse.
Nancy moved the court to reconsider its judgment and for
further findings of fact. See M.R. Civ. P. 52(b),
59(e). The court denied Nancy's motion, stating that it
consisted only of "disagreements with the court's
findings." Nancy timely appealed. See 19-A
M.R.S. § 104 (2018); M.R. App. P. 2B(c)(1).
Parental Rights and Responsibilities
Nancy argues that the court erred by granting Daniel primary
residence of the children and final decision-making
authority, and by denying her motion for further findings of
fact in relation to those determinations. We review the
court's underlying factual findings for clear error and
its ultimate decision on both an award of parental rights and
responsibilities and the denial of a motion for further
findings of fact for an abuse of discretion. Klein v.
Klein, 2019 ME 85, ¶ 5, 208 A.3d 802; Pyle v.
Pyle, 2017 ME 101, ¶ 7, 162 A.3d 814.
The court's judgment includes extensive factual findings
regarding the background of the case as well as additional
findings specific to each of the best interest factors that
it was required to consider before setting parental rights
and responsibilities between the parties. See 19-A
M.R.S. §1653(3) (2018); Nadeau v. Nadeau, 2008
ME 147, ¶ 35, 957 A.2d 108 (stating that a court's
findings are sufficient when it is clear that "the court
considered the best interest factors by expressly analyzing
those factors most relevant under the circumstances
In particular, the court found that Nancy's persistent
and unrelenting efforts to prevent the children from having a
healthy relationship with their father outweighed other
factors regarding the children's best interests. The
record supports the court's finding that, despite a
previously "strong relationship" with Daniel, the
children were left without a meaningful relationship with
their father as a result of Nancy's interference,
frequent moves, and refusal to allow and support regular
contact between the children and Daniel. The court's
thorough and thoughtful findings regarding the best interests
of the children reflect an ...