Stanfield v. Stanfield

Decision Date08 March 1960
Docket NumberNo. 38557,38557
Citation350 P.2d 261
PartiesWilma Dean STANFIELD, Plaintiff in Error, v. James A. STANFIELD, Defendant in Error.
CourtOklahoma Supreme Court

Syllabus by the Court

1. Where divorce decree awards custody of minor children to one parent and subsequently other parent applies for modification of such decree to change custody of the children on ground of change of conditions, applicant must show that the change in conditions or circumstances affects the welfare of the children and that a change in custody would result in greater benefit to the children.

2. Where divorce decree awards custody of minor children to one parent and grants other parent the right of reasonable visitation and parent having custody permanently removes such children to a distant state, upon proper application and showing trial court should modify the decree so as to award other parent partial custody for visitation unless such modification is inimical to the children's welfare and best interests.

Appeal from District Court of Creek County; Kenneth Hughes, Judge.

Appeal by former wife from judgment denying her motion to modify decree of divorce. Modified and affirmed as modified with directions.

Ungerman, Grabel, Ungerman, Leiter & Unruh, Imogene H. Harris, Tulsa, for plaintiff in error.

Finch & Finch, Sapulpa, for defendant in error.

WILLIAMS, Vice Chief Justice.

The parties are referred to as they appeared in the trial court. Plaintiff, the husband, obtained a divorce from defendant in 1950. Custody of the two minor daughters of the parties was awarded to their father (plaintiff).

In 1958 defendant filed this motion to modify the divorce decree in so far as it pertains to such custody.

Defendant's evidence at the hearing of this motion shows that both parties have remarried, and that plaintiff was moved to California, taking the children with him; that defendant now has a home, and four children of her second marriage; that the home environment would be beneficial to the children involved herein, and that her present husband desires to take these children into their home and rear them as his own and that he is financially able to support such a family.

Plaintiff refused to give a deposition arranged by defendant's attorney, stating that he would appear at the hearing of this motion. Plaintiff did not appear, although represented by counsel, and no evidence was introduced as to the present welfare of these children and the environment in which they are now living. The trial court refused to modify the decree and defendant appeals.

Before any change in custody is made, it must be shown that since the entry of the decree, there has been a change of conditions affecting the welfare of the children and that the proposed change of custody would be for the children's best interests. See Jackson v. Jackson, 200 Okl. 333, 193 P.2d 561.

In considering whether there has been a change of conditions warranting a change of custody, the test is whether such conditions affect the welfare of the children and what such children's best interests demand.

In 27B C.J.S. Divorce § 317(2a), p. 539, it is stated:

'There has been no legal definition of the new or changed conditions or circumstances necessary to warrant a change of custody. What constitutes a change in circumstances and conditions must be decided in each case as it arises. In any event, the 'changed circumstances' rule is not absolutely ironclad and one to which there can be no possible exception; it is another form of evidence which the court may consider to decide the question of modification of custody orders.

'While proof of a change in conditions is a prerequisite to the modification of a custody decree, such proof does not necessarily require a modification. The mere fact that conditions have changed since the divorce of the parents is insufficient in itself to warrant a modification of the custody order.

Therefore, it is insufficient to establish some change in circumstances or slight change in conditions; there must be a showing of...

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9 cases
  • Mullendore v. Mullendore
    • United States
    • United States State Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. Court of Civil Appeals of Oklahoma
    • September 24, 2012
    ...affects the welfare of the children and that a change in custody would result in greater benefit to the children.” Stanfield v. Stanfield, 1960 OK 55, ¶ 0, 350 P.2d 261 (affirming the denial of the non-custodial parent's motion to modify and cited in Gibbons for stating one of the “basic ru......
  • David v. David
    • United States
    • Oklahoma Supreme Court
    • October 21, 1969
    ...interest of the child. Gibbons v. Gibbons, supra; Young v. Young, Okl., 383 P.2d 211; Ness v. Ness, Okl., 357 P.2d 973; Stanfield v. Stanfield, Okl., 350 P.2d 261. The trial court found that there was not a substantial change in conditions so as to effect a change of custody of the minor ch......
  • Fletcher v. Fletcher
    • United States
    • Oklahoma Supreme Court
    • May 31, 1961
    ...the children and what the children's best interests demand and giving due consideration to the rights of the parents. See Stanfield v. Stanfield, Okl., 350 P.2d 261; Ness v. Ness, Okl., 357 P.2d 973; and Morgan v. Morgan, Okl., 268 P.2d Reversed and remanded with instructions to proceed in ......
  • Young v. Young
    • United States
    • Oklahoma Supreme Court
    • January 22, 1963
    ...custody must be substantial and one which bears directly upon the temporal, mental and moral welfare of the child. See Stanfield v. Stanfield, Okl., 350 P.2d 261; Guess v. Guess, Okl., 274 P.2d 369, and cited authority. Where the mentioned question is one of fact, the conclusion of the trie......
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