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Child Custody Cases Are Never Easy - Especially this One

Child-custody-process-in-Suwanee-Ga-Clark-Oxendine-and-Sauls-thumb-300x199-94929.pngIf you think that formerly married couples are the only couples who argue about child custody, well, you wouldn't be taking into account today's world.

Not everyone gets married. But every divorcing couple does argue about child custody.

That was the case with Brittney Berg and Darin Mowan.

The couple had a child in 2012. The following year, Brittney moved from Minot, North Dakota, to Illinois and then Iowa, taking the child with her.

Not too pleased with his ex lover's decision, in 2013 Darin decided that he wanted primary residential custody of the child.

And thus the struggle for child custody began.

Their arguments hadn't been too friendly in the past. As evidence that the other party wasn't fit to be a parent, both Brittney and Darin brought in evidence of domestic violence.

There'd been an incident in 2010, but the court dismissed charges against. However, Brittney pled guilty to simple assault domestic violence.

The district court determined that the evidence indicated that the incident occurred before the birth of the child, lacked evidence of bodily injury or a pattern of abuse. Therefore, the court didn't consider this evidence relevant.

The court then awarded primary residential responsibility of the child to Darin.

Brittney appealed.

She argued that the district court erred in failing to make more specific findings of the domestic violence incidents.

Furthermore, Brittney told the Supreme Court of North Dakota that she was subjected to a pattern of bullying, belittling, controlling and physical force. Furthermore, she stated that Darin would grab a gun during an argument and make "threatening sounds." And he would grab a knife in other incidents and either threaten her or threaten self-harm if Brittney were to leave.

Brittney also stated that Darin behaved "aggressively" in front of the child.

The Supreme Court didn't entirely agree with the district court. In fact, the justices stated that "domestic violence still must be considered as one of the best interest factors" in determining residential responsibility.

And whereas the district court found the incident of domestic violence to be relevant to the case, the Supreme Court said, citing other authority, "We have emphasized that "[w]hen credible evidence of domestic violence exists, it 'dominates the hierarchy of factors to be considered' when determining the best interests of the child ...."

In the end, two justices voted to reverse the district court's finding and remand for further proceedings. However, the dissenting justice said that Brittney was overreaching on the facts and claims of domestic violence. "The record establishes there was domestic violence by Brittney Berg, as shown by the criminal conviction following her guilty plea ...."

Who do you think should have won in this case?

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