Waldecker v. O’ScanlonAnnotate this Case
When Mother and Father divorced, a settlement agreement incorporated into the divorce decree provided that both parents would have joint physical custody of their child but if either parent moved more than two hundred miles away then sole custody would automatically revert to the remaining parent. Mother later filed a petition to change the custody arrangement arguing that her anticipated relocation constituted a material change in circumstances requiring the family court to examine whether the change of custody would be in their child’s best interests. The family court enforced the divorce decree and awarded sole physical custody of the child to Father without explicitly finding that the change of custody was in the child’s best interests, concluding that because the parties had contemplated a future relocation in the divorce decree, there was no material change in circumstances. The intermediate court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the lower courts’ judgments, holding that the family court erred in enforcing the divorce decree and awarding sole physical custody of the child to Father without considering the best interests of the child. Remanded.