Ward v. LaRueAnnotate this Case
The parties in this dispute were the parents of a daughter, born in August 2004. The parties were living in Vermont and obtained a final parentage order in December 2012: Mother was awarded sole legal and physical parental rights and responsibilities; father was awarded significant parent-child contact (PCC). In October 2013, the court granted father’s motion to enforce his parent-child contact. The court warned mother that if she withheld or denied father’s right to contact in the future, it would seriously consider modifying parental rights and responsibilities. The court was persuaded that mother had no ability or disposition to foster a positive relationship and frequent and continuing contact with father, and that it was in the child’s best interests to have frequent and continuing contact with him. In August 2014, mother and daughter moved to Virginia. Father remained in Vermont. By agreement, father was to be provided with PCC during Christmas 2014 and during the early spring and summer of 2015. The Christmas visitation did not occur. In April 2015, father moved to enforce the PCC order. Father asserted that he had been unable to schedule a spring visit because mother refused to tell him where the child lived and which school she attended. In 2015, father filed emergency motions for sanctions and for enforcement, indicating that mother was not cooperating with father's requests. Shortly before father’s second filing, mother asked the court to relinquish jurisdiction over this case to Virginia courts. Mother argued that she and the child no longer had a significant connection to Vermont and that the “center of gravity regarding the child’s care, protection, schooling and personal relationships center fully in Virginia.” Mother appealed the trial court’s imposition of sanctions against her and its denial of her request that Vermont relinquish jurisdiction over this case to Virginia. She argued that the evidence did not support the imposition of sanctions and that the court erred in evaluating her jurisdictional request. Finding no reversible error, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed.