Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court
No. SCWC-14-0000780, Thursday, June 25, 2015, 11:15 a.m.
ANASTASIA Y. WALDECKER, Petitioner/Petitioner-Appellant, vs. JOHN O’SCANLON, Respondent/Respondent-Appellee.
The above-captioned case has been set for argument on the merits at:
Supreme Court Courtroom
Ali`iolani Hale, 2nd Floor
417 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
Attorney for Petitioner:
Michael A. Glenn
Attorney for Respondent:
A. Debbie Jew
NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 05/08/15.
COURT: MER, CJ; PAN, SSM, RWP, and MDW, JJ.
Petitioner/Plaintiff-Appellant Anastasia Waldecker (“Waldecker”) applied for writ of certiorari from the judgment of the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA), entered pursuant to its summary disposition order.
Waldecker and John O’Scanlon (“O’Scanlon”) divorced in Nevada in 2010. At the time of divorce, Waldecker and O’Scanlon had one minor daughter (“Daughter”). Waldecker and O’Scanlon entered into a Settlement Agreement that was incorporated into the Nevada district court’s divorce decree (“divorce decree”), pursuant to which Waldecker and O’Scanlon had joint custody of Daughter, but if either parent relocated to more than 200 miles from either O`ahu or San Francisco, sole custody would automatically transfer to the remaining parent. The Nevada court did not make any explicit findings regarding Daughter’s best interests.
Following the divorce, both parents and Daughter lived on O`ahu, but in early 2014, Waldecker intended to relocate to Florida. Waldecker filed a petition in the Family Court of the First Circuit on O`ahu (“family court”), arguing that since the entry of the divorce decree, there had been a material change in circumstances, which required the family court to determine whether the automatic change of custody to O’Scanlon would be in Daughter’s best interests.
The family court concluded that because the parties had agreed to the automatic change of custody provision, they had anticipated the relocation of a parent, so there was no material change in circumstances. As such, the family court concluded that it did not need to determine whether enforcement of the divorce decree was in Daughter’s best interests. Waldecker appealed, and the ICA affirmed the family court’s order.
In her application to this court, Waldecker argues that her anticipated relocation to Florida and her allegation that O’Scanlon’s parenting skills have deteriorated are both grounds to find a material change of circumstances. According to Waldecker, the family court thus erred in failing to analyze whether enforcement of the automatic change of custody provision was in Daughter’s best interests.
O’Scanlon argues that because the parties agreed to the change of custody provision, they anticipated, and provided for the relocation of a parent. O’Scanlon thus argues that there was no material change in circumstances, and the family court did not err in enforcing the automatic change of custody provision without making any findings regarding Daughter’s best interests.