MARYA L. WOODS, Petitioner-Appellant,
KARL E. WOODS, Respondent.
from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District of
the State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Andrew Ellis, Magistrate
judgment of the magistrate court is affirmed.
Merritt Dublin Law Office, Boise, for Appellant. Merritt K.
Dublin argued. Moore Elia Kraft & Hall, LLP, Boise, for
Humphrey LLP, Boise, for Respondent. Mackenzie E. Whatcott
Woods (Mother) appeals a decision of the Ada County
magistrate court denying her petition for modification of the
custody schedule for her two minor children: H.W. (Son) and
T.W. (Daughter). Both Karl Woods (Father) and Mother sought
to modify the schedule. The magistrate court denied both
parents' petitions to modify based upon its finding that
there existed no substantial, permanent, or material changes
that warranted modification of the custody arrangement. On
appeal, Mother argues that the magistrate court abused its
discretion in finding no substantial or material change
existed. Both parties request attorney fees on appeal under
Idaho Code section 12-121. We affirm.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
and Father were divorced in September 2011. The divorce
decree provided for custody of the minor children on a
rotating schedule in which the children spend seven days with
Father and eight days with Mother. Mother brought this action
to modify the custody arrangement and child support. Father
counterclaimed, also seeking to modify custody and child
three-day trial, on May 22, 2017, the magistrate court denied
both parents' modification requests based upon its
finding that there was no substantial, permanent, and
material change that warranted a custody modification. The
magistrate court examined the parties' claims that both
Mother and Father had attempted to alienate the children from
the other parent and found that neither parent had done so.
The magistrate court also found that animosity between Mother
and Father did not constitute a material and substantial
change because: (1) the animosity had been ongoing and
predated the divorce; (2) the animosity had not prevented
Mother and Father from cooperating in a reasonable fashion as
to the care and custody of the children; and (3) no change in
the custodial schedule could resolve the children's
loyalty conflict. Mother timely filed a permissive appeal
pursuant to Idaho Appellate Rule 12.1.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Modification of child custody may be ordered only when there
has been a material, substantial and permanent change of
circumstances indicating to the magistrate's satisfaction
that a modification would be in the best interests of the
child. Idaho Code section 32-717 gives a judge wide
discretion regarding custody decisions, subject to some
restrictions, with the children's best interests being of
paramount importance. The determination of whether to modify
child custody is left to the sound discretion of the trial
court, and this Court will not attempt to substitute its
judgment and discretion for that of the trial court except in
cases where the record reflects a clear abuse of discretion.
In reviewing an exercise of discretion, this Court must
consider: (1) whether the trial court correctly perceived the
issue as one of discretion; (2) whether the trial court acted
within the outer boundaries of its discretion and
consistently with the legal standards applicable to the
specific choices available to it; and (3) whether the trial
court reached its decision by an exercise of reason.
Doe v. Doe (2016-7), 161 Idaho 67, 71-72, 383 P.3d
1237, 1241-42 (2016) (internal quotations and citations
abuse of discretion is found when the magistrate court's
'findings are clearly erroneous such that the court's
findings are not based on substantial and competent
evidence.'" Clair v. Clair, 153 Idaho 278,
282, 281 P.3d 115, 119 (2012) (quoting Schneider v.
Schneider, 151 Idaho 415, 420, 258 P.3d, 350, 355
(2011)). "Findings of fact that are supported by
substantial and competent evidence are not clearly
erroneous-even in the face of conflicting evidence in the
record." Hull v. Geisler, 163 Idaho 247, ___,
409 P.3d 827, 830 (2018). "Substantial and competent
evidence is relevant evidence which a reasonable mind ...