Holt v. District Court for Twentieth Judicial Dist., Ardmore, Carter County, No. 56204

CourtSupreme Court of Oklahoma
Writing for the CourtLAVENDER; IRWIN; SIMMS; HODGES
Citation626 P.2d 1336,1981 OK 39
Decision Date07 April 1981
Docket NumberNo. 56204
PartiesLinda Diane HOLT, Petitioner, v. The DISTRICT COURT FOR the TWENTIETH JUDICIAL DISTRICT, ARDMORE, CARTER COUNTY, State of Oklahoma, and Stanley L. Anderson, Judge of the District Court for the Twentieth Judicial District, Ardmore, Carter County, State of Oklahoma, Respondents.

Page 1336

626 P.2d 1336
1981 OK 39
Linda Diane HOLT, Petitioner,
v.
The DISTRICT COURT FOR the TWENTIETH JUDICIAL DISTRICT,
ARDMORE, CARTER COUNTY, State of Oklahoma, and Stanley L.
Anderson, Judge of the District Court for the Twentieth
Judicial District, Ardmore, Carter County, State of
Oklahoma, Respondents.
No. 56204.
Supreme Court of Oklahoma.
April 7, 1981.

ORIGINAL JURISDICTION ASSUMED; WRIT OF PROHIBITION DENIED; WRIT OF MANDAMUS ISSUED; STAY CONTINUED.

Harry L. Bickford, Wallace, Bickford, Pasley & Farabough, Ardmore, for petitioner.

Darryl F. Roberts and Kathleen M. Duncan, Roberts & Duncan, Ardmore, for respondents.

Page 1338

LAVENDER, Justice:

This is an application to assume original jurisdiction and petition for writ of prohibition or mandamus in a child custody matter. The facts, as we have gathered them from the pleadings, affidavits, and exhibits, will be set out in some detail.

The petitioner here is Linda Diane Holt. She and her husband, Dean Edwin Holt, were married in 1971 in Ardmore, Oklahoma. They have four children, three sons and a daughter, ages 2 to 7. Apparently they lived in Oklahoma until April 1978. In April 1978 they moved from Oklahoma City to Aurora, Oregon, where they lived together until last summer.

On July 18, 1980, when he returned home from a week of duty with the Oregon Air National Guard, Mr. Holt found his wife moving out of their house, taking the children with her. She left Oregon two days later and went to Borger, Texas, where her grandmother and some other relatives live. Two of the children went with her to Texas. Another child went to stay with Mrs. Holt's mother in Ardmore, Oklahoma, and the other child went to stay with Mrs. Holt's sister in Moore, Oklahoma. Later Mrs. Holt, a registered nurse, found a job paying $900 per month in Memphis, Texas, some 90 miles from Borger. She moved there to begin work on August 4, and the two children who had been in Oklahoma joined her and the other two children on August 18.

On July 29, 1980, Mr. Holt filed for divorce in the Circuit Court of Marion County, Oregon. In his petition and by a separate motion he asked for custody of the children. Mrs. Holt was served with the papers in Texas in August. Since that time the Oregon court has had and has exercised jurisdiction in this matter.

On September 24, 1980, Mrs. Holt filed in the District Court of Hall County, Texas, an "original petition in suit affecting the parent-child relationship." In her petition she alleged that "(n)o court has continuing jurisdiction of this suit or of the children, the subject of this suit." She asked the Texas court to appoint her "temporary managing conservator of the children," to enjoin the father from interfering with her possession of the children or from "taking or attempting to take possession of the children" himself, and to order the father to make child support payments. The pleadings before us do not reveal whether service was obtained on Mr. Holt in the Texas action. Nevertheless, the filing of that action became the foundation for a motion filed by Mrs. Holt on October 3 in the Oregon action, based on the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act. 1 In her motion she requested the Oregon court to "(decline) to exercise jurisdiction to make a child custody determination for the reasons that this Court is an inconvenient forum and a Court of another state is a more appropriate forum to make a child custody determination under the circumstances of this case."

The Oregon court held a hearing on Mrs. Holt's motion on October 16. On October 28 the judge issued an order denying the motion. He ruled that "(t)he State of Oregon is the home state" of the children and that "(a)s between the State of Oregon and the State of Texas, the State of Oregon is the place where there is optimum access to evidence concerning the present or future care, protection, training and personal relationships of the parties' minor children."

The Oregon court held another hearing on October 22, this one for the purpose of ruling on various other motions that had been filed in the case. Mrs. Holt appeared personally. The judge entered an order on November 3, in which he granted Mrs. Holt temporary custody of the four children, but provided that if she "fails to return said children to the community of Aurora, Oregon and to resume residence in said community

Page 1339

within thirty (30) days from the date hereof, temporary custody of the parties' four (4) minor children shall be vested in petitioner (Mr. Holt)." He also ordered that when Mrs. Holt returned Mr. Holt had to move out of the family residence, and he ruled that Mr. Holt "shall not be required to pay for or reimburse respondent (Mrs. Holt) for any costs or expenses incurred by respondent in returning herself or the parties' minor children to the State of Oregon."

Mrs. Holt never returned the children to Oregon. On October 23 she moved with the children to Ardmore, Oklahoma, to live with her parents. She had lost her job in Memphis, Texas, (the record does not indicate why), but in Ardmore she found a job paying $1,040 per month.

On December 3, 1980, Mrs. Holt filed a petition for separate maintenance and alimony in the District Court of Carter County, Oklahoma. She asked for temporary custody of the children, temporary support, and temporary attorney's fees. In her petition, as she did in her pleadings in the actions in Oregon and Texas, Mrs. Holt alleged that she is afraid of her husband, that he has physically abused her, and that he is "guilty of extreme cruelty" toward her and the children. This Court's attention has not been called to any action in the nature of cruelty.

Mr. Holt was served with the papers in the Carter County action by mail on December 9. On December 11 he filed a motion to stay and a "motion to enforce orders of sister state," moving the court to stay all proceedings in Mrs. Holt's separate maintenance action and to enforce the orders of the Oregon court. To enforce the orders of the Oregon court, Mr. Holt asked the Carter County court for an order directing Mrs. Holt to appear personally and deliver actual physical custody of the children to him.

Hearing on Mrs. Holt's motions to stay and to enforce the Oregon court orders was set for December 18, 1980. On December 17 Mrs. Holt filed a motion for a continuance. Her motion alleged that she and her daughter were seeing a "family clinician" at a counseling center called the Guidance Clinic in Ardmore, and informed the court that it would not be until February 1981 that the clinic could "properly evaluate the problems presently existing with (the daughter) and make a recommendation to the Court." The record does not indicate the nature of these problems.

The family clinician testified at the hearing on December 18. Mrs. Holt's motion for a continuance was denied. Mr. Holt's motion to stay was granted. The judge found that Oregon is the home state of the children and that the Oregon court "is exercising jurisdiction substantially in conformity with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act." He determined that under the Act, "the Circuit Court of Marion County, State of Oregon, having assumed jurisdiction prior to the filing of the Petition herein, this Court is bound to decline to exercise its jurisdiction." Having determined that, he concluded that "evidence concerning the best interest of the children with regard to assuming jurisdiction, establishing a significant connection with this State, and establishing evidence concerning the children's present or future care, protection, training and personal relationships is not necessary," and he did not allow Mrs. Holt to put on testimony regarding those things. The judge made no monetary awards, except to order Mr. Holt to continue making payments on the joint indebtedness of the parties. Finally, he ordered Mrs. Holt to deliver custody of the children to Mr. Holt, though he delayed the effectiveness of that part of the order until noon on December 24, Christmas Eve, to enable Mrs. Holt to seek a stay in this court.

Mrs. Holt did seek a stay in this court. She filed this original action on December 23, asking for a stay, a writ of prohibition, and a writ of mandamus. Prohibition is sought to keep the judge in Carter County from enforcing his December 18 order to deliver custody of the children to Mr. Holt. Mandamus is sought to require the judge to

Page 1340

hear evidence concerning the best interests of the children, to hear evidence concerning a significant connection between the mother and children and the State of Oklahoma, and to communicate with the judge of the Circuit Court of Marion County, Oregon. We heard argument on December 24, issued a stay until further order of the court, and called for briefs. We now assume original jurisdiction.

I.

This case involves the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act. 2 That law is a long-awaited and much-needed attempted solution to a number of troubling problems in the area of domestic relations. The main problems it attempts to address are child snatching and multi-state jurisdictional squabbles. It goes at these and other problems in several ways, but primarily by limiting the jurisdiction of the courts to act in custody matters. 3 The Act has several purposes, which are set out specifically 4 so that each section of the Act will be read with those purposes in mind. 5 An overriding aim of the Act is to "shift from providing for the child's best interests through ease of modification to an emphasis on continuity of the child's environment." 6 This purpose is expressed in section 1602(4) of the Act, which says that the purpose is to:

Discourage continuing controversies over child custody in the interest of greater stability of home environment and of secure family relationships for the child.

The need of children for a stable home environment and secure family relationships is well recognized, 7 and we have...

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30 practice notes
  • Kelley v. Kelley, No. 104,787.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • December 18, 2007
    ...matters through the issuance of an extraordinary writ. Carter v. Carter, 1989 OK 153, ¶ 2, 783 P.2d 969; Holt v. District Court, 1981 OK 39, ¶¶ 32-33, 626 P.2d 1336; Gourley v. George, 1979 OK 134, ¶ 7, 601 P.2d 6. The right of a parent to the care, custody, companionship and management of ......
  • Marquiss v. Marquiss, No. 90-184
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • July 7, 1992
    ...Brooks, 530 P.2d 547; In re LeMond, 395 N.E.2d 1287; Holt v. District Court for Twentieth Judicial Dist., Ardmore, Carter County, 626 P.2d 1336 (Okl.1981). Modification as an effort to enforce the original decree is not, for that reason alone, punitive. Arbogast, 327 S.E.2d 675. The punitiv......
  • Umina v. Malbica, No. 88-P-34
    • United States
    • Appeals Court of Massachusetts
    • May 23, 1989
    ...denied, 444 U.S. 1071, 100 S.Ct. 1015, 62 L.Ed.2d 753 (1980); Dennis v. Dennis, 387 N.W.2d 234, 236 (N.D.1986); Holt v. District Court, 626 P.2d 1336, 1341 (Okla.1981); Smith v. Smith, 40 Or.App. 257, 259, 594 P.2d 1292 4 For purposes of comparison and convenient reference, we have set fort......
  • B.R.F., In re, No. 46519
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • March 20, 1984
    ...exception despite the language of the UCCJA. E.g., Brooks v. Brooks, 20 Or.App. 43, 530 P.2d 547, 551 (1975); Holt v. District Court, 626 P.2d 1336, 1344 (Okl.1981). These courts rely on a comment to the UCCJA by the Commissioners, UCCJA, Commissioners' Note, § 13, 9 ULA 151, 152 (Master ed......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
30 cases
  • Kelley v. Kelley, No. 104,787.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • December 18, 2007
    ...matters through the issuance of an extraordinary writ. Carter v. Carter, 1989 OK 153, ¶ 2, 783 P.2d 969; Holt v. District Court, 1981 OK 39, ¶¶ 32-33, 626 P.2d 1336; Gourley v. George, 1979 OK 134, ¶ 7, 601 P.2d 6. The right of a parent to the care, custody, companionship and management of ......
  • Marquiss v. Marquiss, No. 90-184
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • July 7, 1992
    ...Brooks, 530 P.2d 547; In re LeMond, 395 N.E.2d 1287; Holt v. District Court for Twentieth Judicial Dist., Ardmore, Carter County, 626 P.2d 1336 (Okl.1981). Modification as an effort to enforce the original decree is not, for that reason alone, punitive. Arbogast, 327 S.E.2d 675. The punitiv......
  • Umina v. Malbica, No. 88-P-34
    • United States
    • Appeals Court of Massachusetts
    • May 23, 1989
    ...denied, 444 U.S. 1071, 100 S.Ct. 1015, 62 L.Ed.2d 753 (1980); Dennis v. Dennis, 387 N.W.2d 234, 236 (N.D.1986); Holt v. District Court, 626 P.2d 1336, 1341 (Okla.1981); Smith v. Smith, 40 Or.App. 257, 259, 594 P.2d 1292 4 For purposes of comparison and convenient reference, we have set fort......
  • B.R.F., In re, No. 46519
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • March 20, 1984
    ...exception despite the language of the UCCJA. E.g., Brooks v. Brooks, 20 Or.App. 43, 530 P.2d 547, 551 (1975); Holt v. District Court, 626 P.2d 1336, 1344 (Okl.1981). These courts rely on a comment to the UCCJA by the Commissioners, UCCJA, Commissioners' Note, § 13, 9 ULA 151, 152 (Master ed......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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