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Haag v. Haag

Supreme Court of North Dakota

February 18, 2016

Heather J. Haag, Plaintiff and Appellant
v.
Michael Haag, Defendant and Appellee and State of North Dakota Statutory Real Party In Interest

Page 540

Appeal from the District Court of Burleigh County, South Central Judicial District, the Honorable Bruce B. Haskell, Judge.

Suzanne M. Schweigert (argued) and Leah R. Carlson (appeared), P.O. Box 460, Bismarck, N.D. 58502-0460, for plaintiff and appellant.

dney E. Pagel, 1715 Burnt Boat Drive, Madison Suite, Bismarck, N.D. 58503, for defendant and appellee.

Gerald W. VandeWalle, C.J., Carol Ronning Kapsner, Lisa Fair McEvers, Daniel J. Crothers, Dale V. Sandstrom.

OPINION

Page 541

Gerald W. VandeWalle, Chief Justice.

[¶1] Heather Haag appealed from a district court order denying her motion to modify primary residential responsibility, parenting time, and child support. We reverse and remand, concluding the court's decision was induced by an erroneous view of the law and the court's finding that Heather Haag did not prove a material change in circumstances is clearly erroneous.

I

[¶2] Heather Haag and Michael Haag were married in 2000 and have one minor child together. The parties divorced in 2009, and the district court adopted the parties' stipulation and ordered the parties have equal residential responsibility of the child.

[¶3] On October 16, 2014, Heather Haag moved to modify primary residential responsibility of the child, parenting time, and child support. She also moved for an ex parte interim order and filed a supporting affidavit and exhibits. She alleged Michael Haag has a long history of using alcohol and drugs, he was arrested for cocaine possession in August 2014, and he was convicted of boating under the influence of alcohol in 2009. She also alleged Michael Haag physically abused her during the marriage and the child witnessed the abuse.

[¶4] The district court granted Heather Haag's motion for an ex parte interim order, and ordered Michael Haag have supervised parenting time two times per week for two hours each visit. The court also found Heather Haag established a prima facie case justifying modification and ordered an evidentiary hearing be held.

[¶5] After a hearing, the district court denied Heather Haag's motion to modify primary residential responsibility, parenting time, and child support. The court found most of the evidence Heather Haag presented focused on Michael Haag's pre-divorce drug and alcohol use and abusive behavior. The court found Michael Haag was physically and emotionally abusive to Heather Haag before the divorce, he has serious problems with drugs and alcohol, and the parties knew about these problems before the divorce. The court, therefore, concluded Heather Haag did not prove a material change ...


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