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In re Marraige of Lee

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division, Department D

October 10, 2013

In re the Marriage of: SHANNON MURAI LEE, Petitioner/Appellant,
v.
IAN MICHAEL FRAISER-SHAPIRO, Respondent/Appellee.

Not for Publication -Rule 28, Arizona Rules of Civil Appellate Procedure

Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County Cause No. FC2011-092910 The Honorable Benjamin R. Norris, Judge

Katz & Bloom, Jay R. Bloom Attorneys for Petitioner/Appellant.

Viles Law Offices, LLC, James E. Viles Attorneys for Respondent/Appellee.

MEMORANDUM DECISION

DONN KESSLER, Judge.

¶1 Shannon Murai Lee ("Mother") appeals from the family court's Decree awarding joint legal custody and designating Ian Michael Frasier-Shapiro ("Father") as the primary residential parent for their three children. For the following reasons, we affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶2 Father and Mother met in California in 2002 and married in 2004. They have three children: C, K., and R. (collectively the "Children"). The family moved from California to Edmonton, Canada, in July 2007 so that Father could pursue a doctorate at the University of Alberta.

¶3 The parties separated in December 2010. Mother relocated to Arizona and moved in with her boyfriend (now her fiancé). The Children have resided primarily with Mother since March 2011.

¶4 Mother served Father with a petition for dissolution while he was in California. During the ensuing dissolution proceeding, each party accused the other of withholding the Children over the other party's objection. For example, Mother accused Father of parental kidnapping and obtained a court order compelling Father to return the Children to her in January 2012. Father asserted that Mother had breached an agreement to return the Children to him in Canada during 2011.

¶5 Denise Glassmoyer ("Glassmoyer"), a psychologist, conducted a parenting conference with the parties in March 2012. According to Glassmoyer's report, Father was nearing completion of his doctoral program in Canada and was looking for employment. Father indicated that relocation was likely but he did not know whether he would return to Canada or remain in the United States.

¶6 One week before trial, Mother filed an unsuccessful motion to preclude Father's request to relocate the Children based upon Father's failure to disclose his intended residence. Meanwhile, Father filed a separate pre-trial statement affirming that he would reside in California if the family court designated him as the primary residential parent.

¶7 Father, then residing in Davis, California, stated for the first time at trial that he would accept one of two job offers from San Diego County employers. Father anticipated that his base salary would be about $60, 000. He had identified a day care establishment and was considering an elementary school in the Claremont neighborhood.

¶8 In opposing relocation, Mother testified and provided evidence of the Children's adjustment to their Arizona home and their progress at a charter school, which she had chosen without consulting Father. Mother acknowledged that her only tie to Arizona is her fiancé, and her father and grandparents live in Southern California. Father testified that the Children sometimes called him by the fiancé's name, and opined that he was becoming estranged from them. Indeed, Father claims that he can barely get the Children to speak with him on the phone.

¶9After a three-hour trial, the family court issued a twenty-one-page Decree awarding the parties joint legal custody, designating Father as the primary residential parent, and permitting Father to relocate the Children to California. The family court reasoned that this arrangement would create better relationships between the Children and both parents in the long run. Mother timely appealed. We have jurisdiction ...


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