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Schurmann v. Schurmann

Supreme Court of North Dakota

March 15, 2016

Patricia Lynn Schurmann, n/k/a Patricia Lynn Heidt, Plaintiff and Appellant
v.
Ralf Stefan Schurmann, Defendant and Appellee

Page 21

          Appeal from the District Court of Grand Forks County, Northeast Central Judicial District, the Honorable Lolita G. Hartl Romanick, Judge.

         Jacey L. Johnston (argued), DeWayne A. Johnston (appeared), and Shay O'Brien (on brief), third-year law student, under the Rule on Limited Practice of Law by Law Students, Grand Forks, N.D., for plaintiff and appellant.

         Ward K. Johnson III, Grand Forks, N.D., for defendant and appellee.

         Dale V. Sandstrom, Daniel J. Crothers, Lisa Fair McEvers, Carol Ronning Kapsner, Gerald W. VandeWalle, C.J. Opinion of the Court by Sandstrom, Justice.

          OPINION

Page 22

          Dale V. Sandstrom, Justice.

          [¶1] Patricia Schurmann, now known as Patricia Heidt, appeals after the district court modified parenting time and child support. She argues the district court failed to properly weigh evidence of domestic violence in increasing Ralf Schurmann's parenting time. She also argues the court should not have reduced child support. We affirm the district court's order regarding parenting time, and reverse and remand the order regarding child support.

         I

          [¶2] In January 2013, Schurmann and Heidt were divorced. The couple has three children. The parties stipulated to the terms of the divorce, and the district court awarded primary residential responsibility and child support to Heidt and parenting time to Schurmann. Under the original divorce judgment, Schurmann was allowed to spend time with the children one time per month for up to seven days in Grand Forks. He was also allowed to spend time with the children two times per year in Arizona, where he resided. His parenting time was to increase incrementally as the children grew older. During his parenting time in Arizona, Heidt was entitled to daily visitation. The judgment required both parents to accompany the children on all flights between North Dakota and Arizona until the youngest child reached the age of 7. This required Schurmann to fly to North Dakota to meet

Page 23

Heidt and the children, fly back to Arizona to exercise parenting time, and then fly again to North Dakota with Heidt and the children at the end of his parenting time in Arizona. Both parties were responsible for their own travel and accommodation expenses and were to split the costs of two trips for the children. Any additional trips were Schurmann's financial responsibility. He was also required to pay $1,600 per month in child support.

          [¶3] After the divorce, Schurmann moved between cities but continued to reside in Arizona. Heidt and the children moved from Grand Forks to Grafton. Both parties remarried following the divorce.

          [¶4] In January 2015, Schurmann moved to modify his parenting time and child support obligation. He said there had been a material change in circumstances warranting modification. In a supporting affidavit, he alleged the original parenting plan was impractical, given the parties' different locations; he was being alienated from the children in multiple ways; Heidt interfered during his parenting time; and the children were not being adequately supervised and cared for while in her home.

          [¶5] The district court, finding there had been a material change in circumstances warranting modification, increased Schurmann's parenting time and decreased his child support obligation. Heidt appealed.

          [¶6] The district court had jurisdiction under N.D. Const. art. VI, § 8, and N.D.C.C. § 27-05-06. The appeal is timely under N.D.R.App.P. 4(a). This Court has jurisdiction under ...


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