VALERIE R. (BISHOP-MARTEL) WINN
Argued: November 5, 2019
Thaddeus V. Day, Esq. (orally), Law Offices of Thaddeus V.
Day, P.L.L.C, Cumberland Center, for appellant Valerie R.
Egdall, Esq. (orally), Gosselin & Dubord, P.A., Lewiston,
for appellee Jean Martel
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, and
HUMPHREY, JJ. [*]
Valerie R. Winn,  the mother of a child whose father is Jean
Martel, appeals from a judgment of the District Court
(Lewiston, Lawrence, J.) awarding child
support to Martel's sister-the child's paternal
aunt-who had been providing ongoing residence and care for
the child. The mother argues that the court erred in awarding
child support, including past support, to the aunt and in its
determination of the amount of the mother's gross income.
We affirm the judgment, except for its provision that the
mother's child support obligation to the aunt is
retroactive to a date before the divorce complaint was filed.
The facts are drawn from the court's supported findings
and from the procedural record. The mother and father were
married in November 2010, when their child was five years
old. Several years later, beginning in July 2014, the
father's sister began proving primary care for their
On October 19, 2016, the paternal aunt filed a petition in
the Androscoggin County Probate Court to be appointed as the
guardian of the child. Notice of the petition was served on
the mother in November 2016.
The mother then commenced a divorce proceeding by serving a
complaint on the father on February 8, 2017, and filing the
complaint with the District Court within twenty days.
See M.R. Civ. P. 3. The complaint alleged that the
child had been residing with his paternal aunt since July
2014 and requested that the District Court determine parental
rights and responsibilities for the minor child, including
On March 7, 2017, the District Court (Carlson, J.)
held a case management conference. In addition to the
parties, the aunt was present at the conference and indicated
that she had filed a petition for guardianship of the minor
child in the District Court. See 18-A M.R.S.
§§ 5-201 to 5-213 (2018).The probate matter was then
dismissed as duplicative.
In early August 2017, after a first mediation did not fully
resolve the family matter, the aunt-identifying herself as
"the De Facto Guardian"-filed a motion seeking,
among other things, ongoing child support from the mother.
The parties did not resolve the matter at a second mediation,
and the court (Martin, M.) consolidated the
aunt's guardianship petition with the divorce matter.
The parties participated in a judicial settlement conference
in October 2017. They reached an agreement on the record, and
the court (Ham-Thompson, M.) directed the
mother's counsel to draft the order, confirm the terms of
the agreement with all parties, and present it to the court
for signature. Because the parties could not agree to the
contents of the order, the court (Lawrence, J.)
ordered all counsel to listen to the recording of the
agreement as stated then by the parties and submit a final
order for signature by December 15, 2017, with the magistrate
(Ham-Thompson, M.) to resolve any remaining
The magistrate entered the divorce judgment in January 2018.
For reasons that are not clear on the record, the magistrate
accepted the parties' agreement to dismiss the aunt's
petition for guardianship upon an agreement that "[the
aunt] is the de facto guardian of [the child]." The
judgment ordered that the child would "continue to
reside" with the aunt, and it included a provision that
a final two-hour hearing ...