583 N.W.2d 120 (N.D.App. 1998), 970371, Severson v. Severson

Docket Nº:Civil No. 970371CA.
Citation:583 N.W.2d 120, 1998 ND 6
Opinion Judge:[7] The opinion of the court was delivered by: Burdick, Surrogate Judge
Party Name:Kathleen M. SEVERSON, Plaintiff and Appellee, v. Randal H. SEVERSON, Defendant and Appellant
Attorney:Loretta J. Walberg (argued), of Kuchera, Stenehjem & Walberg, Grand Forks, for plaintiff and appellee., Constance L. Triplett (argued), of Triplett Law Office, Grand Forks, for defendant and appellant. [6] Loretta J. Walberg (argued), of Kuchera, Stenehjem & Walberg, P.o. Box 6352, Grand Forks, ...
Case Date:August 18, 1998
Court:Court of Appeals of North Dakota
 
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Page 120

583 N.W.2d 120 (N.D.App. 1998)

1998 ND 6

Kathleen M. SEVERSON, Plaintiff and Appellee,

v.

Randal H. SEVERSON, Defendant and Appellant

Civil No. 970371CA.

Court of Appeals of North Dakota.

August 18, 1998

Page 121

Loretta J. Walberg (argued), of Kuchera, Stenehjem & Walberg, Grand Forks, for plaintiff and appellee.

Constance L. Triplett (argued), of Triplett Law Office, Grand Forks, for defendant and appellant.

BURDICK, Surrogate Judge.

¶1 Randal H. Severson appealed from a divorce judgment granting him and Kathleen M. Severson "joint legal custody" and "share[d] physical custody" of their minor children, and dividing their marital property. We affirm with directions.

¶2 Randal and Kathleen were married November 14, 1987. Two daughters were born of the marriage--Erin Lynn, born August 15, 1988; and Abigail Lee, born January 12, 1996. Kathleen also has primary physical custody of a 16-year old daughter from a previous relationship. Randal did not adopt her.

¶3 During the marriage, Randal worked as a road blader until he went to school for two years to become a paramedic. At the time of trial, Randal was employed as a paramedic at United Hospital in Grand Forks. Kathleen had a four year degree in elementary education and an LPN associates degree in nursing. During the marriage, she worked in a nursing home and taught first grade in Larimore. At the time of trial, Kathleen was employed part-time by Grand Forks Clinic as a diabetes-coordinator-nurse educator. Randal and Kathleen separated in November 1996, only three months after purchasing a home in Larimore. Randal moved into an apartment near the marital home.

¶4 The primary dispute of the parties involves custody of Erin and Abigail. The parties acknowledged, and the trial court found, Randal and Kathleen are both good and fit parents for the minor children. Randal, however, was concerned about Kathleen's perceived permissiveness in dealing with her older daughter, and how this may affect Erin and Abigail as they grow older.

¶5 The trial court awarded Randal and Kathleen "joint legal custody" of Erin and Abigail, and defined this "meaningless amorphism," Dickson v. Dickson, 1997 ND 167, p 6, 568 N.W.2d 284. The trial court defined "joint legal custody" as follows:

"A. Each parent will have the right to obtain school and medical records, and each parent has the right to make decisions for the care of the children when they are in the care of that parent. As to non-emergency decisions regarding health care, education and religious training, the parties shall have equal rights, and consultation shall be accomplished and a joint decision reached.

"B. To foster consistency, the parties shall also establish rules of discipline for the children that will be followed in both households. The parties shall also agree on matters such as exchange of clothing for the children, bringing in romantic partners of the parents (or [the oldest daughter] ), transportation issues for the children and managing different routines.

"C. Each party has the right to be informed by school officials about the childrens' welfare, educational progress and status, and to attend school and parent/teacher conferences. The school is not required to hold separate conferences for each...

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