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Brooks v. Brooks

Supreme Court of North Dakota

June 18, 2015

Sarah C. Brooks, Plaintiff
v.
Roy W. Brooks, Defendant and Appellant

Appeal from the District Court of Grant County, South Central Judicial District, the Honorable Gail Hagerty, Judge.

Sarah C. Brooks, plaintiff; no appearance.

Roy W. Brooks (on brief), self-represented, defendant and appellant.

Carol Ronning Kapsner, Lisa Fair McEvers, Daniel J. Crothers, Daniel D. Narum, D.J., Gerald W. VandeWalle, C.J. The Honorable Daniel D. Narum, D.J., sitting in place of Sandstrom, J., disqualified. Opinion of the Court by Kapsner, Justice.

OPINION

Page 768

Carol Ronning Kapsner, Justice.

[¶1] Roy Brooks appeals from a district court order denying his motion to modify primary residential responsibility. Because our review of this case is significantly hampered by the district court's failure to make specific, detailed findings on the relevant issues, we reverse and remand for further explanation of the basis for the court's determination.

I

[¶2] The parties married in 2010 and have three minor children together. In September 2014, the parties divorced, and the district court approved the parties' stipulation that Sarah Brooks be awarded primary residential responsibility with Roy Brooks given reasonable parenting time.

[¶3] In January 2015, Roy Brooks, self-represented, moved to modify primary residential responsibility. In support of his motion, Roy Brooks' affidavit alleged Sarah Brooks' home is a " health hazard for the children" because it has a " mouse problem" and " mold in the basement." The affidavit expressed his concern with Sarah Brooks' romantic relationships with two men, alleging it " damages the psyche of the child's developmental needs." The affidavit alleged Sarah Brooks, along with the parties' three children, have slept over at the men's apartments, and Roy Brooks was concerned regarding the children's sleeping arrangements and " sleeping wellness" because the parties' youngest daughter allegedly slept on the floor, their son slept in a bed with the man's son, and their oldest daughter slept in a recliner. The affidavit alleged Sarah Brooks has " no regard for [the children's] mental, physical or psychological well being," and " [i]t is harmful and not in the child's best interest when a parent is acting so careless."

[¶4] Sarah Brooks opposed Roy Brooks' motion, asserting it should be denied and dismissed in its entirety because it " failed to meet the basic requirements of Rule 3.2 of the North Dakota Rules of Court." Sarah Brooks did not submit a counter-affidavit or other supporting evidence to dispute the allegations in Roy Brooks' affidavit. The district court denied Roy Brooks' motion, quoting N.D.C.C. § 14-09-06.6 in its entirety, and stating, " [Roy] Brooks should either obtain legal advice or educate himself concerning the law before bringing motions. If he causes Sarah Brooks to incur legal expenses because he does not do so, he will be held responsible for those expenses."

II

[¶5] On appeal, Roy Brooks argues the district court erred in not granting an evidentiary hearing and in denying his motion to modify without ...


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