Anne Canerdy v. Canerdy, 20210262

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of North Dakota
Writing for the CourtVandeWalle, Justice.
Citation2022 ND 61
PartiesSamantha Margaret Anne Canerdy, Plaintiff and Appellee v. Jason Andrew Canerdy, Defendant and Appellant and State of North Dakota, Statutory Real Party in Interest
Docket Number20210262
Decision Date17 March 2022

2022 ND 61

Samantha Margaret Anne Canerdy, Plaintiff and Appellee

Jason Andrew Canerdy, Defendant and Appellant

and State of North Dakota, Statutory Real Party in Interest

No. 20210262

Supreme Court of North Dakota

March 17, 2022

Appeal from the District Court of Williams County, Northwest Judicial District, the Honorable Robin A. Schmidt, Judge.

Deanna F. Longtin, Scottsdale, AZ, for plaintiff and appellee; submitted on brief.

Jacob D. Marburger, Williston, ND, for defendant and appellant; submitted on brief.


VandeWalle, Justice.

[¶1] Jason Canerdy appealed from a district court order denying his motion for contempt and his motion to modify primary residential responsibility without an evidentiary hearing. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.


[¶2] Jason Canerdy and Samantha Canerdy were divorced in June 2020. The parties share two minor children. The judgment awarded Samantha Canerdy primary residential responsibility and Jason Canerdy reasonable parenting time.

[¶3] In April 2021, Jason Canerdy filed a motion to modify the judgment to be awarded primary residential responsibility of the minor children, or in the alternative, be awarded equal residential responsibility. Jason Canerdy also filed a motion for contempt for Samantha Canerdy's interference with his parenting time. Jason Canerdy submitted affidavits and other supporting evidence alleging that Samantha Canerdy persistently and willfully denied and interfered with his parenting time. Jason Canerdy submitted text messages where he requested the minor children's dance schedule and if the dance activities were on his scheduled weekend, he requested that his parenting time be made up. In his affidavit, he claimed Samantha Canerdy interfered because his requests to make up his missed parenting time have gone unanswered. Additionally, Jason Canerdy alleged specific dates that his parenting time was withheld. Samantha Canerdy submitted a declaration in response to the motions stating that she was made aware in April about Social Services' involvement and was advised by her attorney that there should be no contact until the issue was addressed. Jason Canerdy submitted an exhibit of an email from a social worker which stated that Social Services did not have any protection plan in place preventing Jason Canerdy from seeing his children.


[¶4] The district court denied Jason Canerdy's motion for contempt and his motion to modify the judgment for primary residential responsibility without an evidentiary hearing. The court found that there was no evidence that Samantha Canerdy disobeyed the judgment and that she had not committed contempt of court. Further, the court found no persistent and willful denial of parenting time, no evidence that the children are in any danger, and no evidence that primary residential responsibility has changed. The court stated that Jason Canerdy does not take responsibility for his own inaction in regard to not spending as much time with his minor children because he does not regularly attend or participate in their dance activities. The court noted that Jason Canerdy would seek to make up his parenting time when the dance activities occur on his scheduled weekend.


[¶5] Jason Canerdy argues the district court erred in denying his motion for contempt because Samantha Canerdy refused to allow him to exercise his parenting time.

[¶6] Under N.D.C.C. § 27-10-01.1(1)(c), contempt of court includes "[i]ntentional disobedience, resistance, or obstruction of the authority, process, or order of a court or other officer, including a referee or magistrate." "A party seeking a contempt sanction under N.D.C.C. ch. 27-10 must clearly and satisfactorily prove the alleged contempt was committed." Upton v. Nolan, 2018 ND 243, ¶ 18, 919 N.W.2d 181 (quoting Sall v. Sall, 2011 ND 202, ¶ 7, 804 N.W.2d 378). "To warrant a remedial sanction for contempt, there must be a willful and inexcusable intent to violate a court order." Id. (quoting Harger v. Harger, 2002 ND 76, ¶ 14, 644 N.W.2d 182).

[¶7] "The district court has broad discretion in making contempt decisions." Rath v. Rath, 2017 ND 128, ¶ 9, 895 N.W.2d 306 (citations omitted). "Technical violations of a court order, however, do not necessitate a contempt finding." Id. at ¶ 8 (citation omitted).

This is especially true in domestic relations cases, because granting contempt motions for every single possible technical
violation of court orders would do nothing to further the best interests of children, but would simply increase the animosity between the parties and discourage them from cooperating to resolve disputes by themselves. The contempt statutes are not intended to attempt to regulate and adjudicate every loss of temper, angry word, or quarrel between persons connected by a familial relationship.


[¶8] We will not disturb a district court's contempt determination unless the court abused its discretion. Rath, 2017 ND 128, ¶ 9. "A district court abuses its discretion when it acts in an arbitrary, unreasonable, or unconscionable manner; its decision is not the product of a rational mental process...

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