Knutsen v. CegalisAnnotate this Case
In September 2012, a four-day hearing was held on father’s petition on behalf of the child for a final relief-from-abuse order against mother, as well as on mother’s cross-motion to modify parental rights and contact. According to father, in May 2012, the child related that over the prior few months, mother and her boyfriend had sexually abused him. Mother vigorously denied the allegations. The court found that, taking all of the credible evidence into consideration, father failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that mother abused the child. It thus denied his request for a final restraining order. As to mother’s motion, the court found that the ongoing dispute between parents had not abated over the years. Mother had created a website in which she posted intensely critical tirades about father. The court found that mother’s behavior impaired the child’s ability to have a good relationship with the three adult caregivers in his life. The court also had concerns about mother’s parenting skills based on her in-court demeanor. The court did not believe that the child was deliberately lying about the alleged assaults, but concluded that he was making extraordinarily serious and very negative statements about mother because he lacked the ability to cope with mother’s evident hatred of father, and he wanted it to stop. Mother, acting pro se, appealed a trial court order on the parents’ cross-motions concerning their son. Father moved to terminate efforts to reestablish parent-child contact with mother, and mother moved to modify parental rights and responsibilities. The court denied mother’s motion to modify, and it did not allow mother any rights of parent-child contact until August 2016, unless the child’s trauma therapist recommended contact earlier. Mother argued that the court’s findings were inadequate, and that the findings did not support the court’s conclusion. After review, the Supreme Court concluded that the trial court acted within its discretion, and affirmed.