Hilary O’Brien v. Michael O’Brien

<p>In the Missouri Court of Appeals Western District  HILARY O'BRIEN,   Appellant,  WD83197 v.   OPINION FILED: MICHAEL O'BRIEN,   OCTOBER 27, 2020 Respondent.    Appeal from the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri The Honorable Bryan Round, Judge Before Division Two: Karen King Mitchell, Presiding Judge, Anthony Rex Gabbert, Judge, W. Douglas Thomson, Judge Hilary O’Brien appeals the judgment of the Jackson County Circuit Court denying her permission to relocate her children from Kansas City to Phoenix, Arizona. She complains in two points on appeal that the trial court’s judgment was not supported by substantial evidence and that it was against the weight of the evidence. The judgment is affirmed. Facts Hilary O’Brien1 (“Mother”) and Michael O’Brien (“Father”) divorced on May 30, 2018. Pursuant to that judgment, they shared joint physical and joint legal custody of their three 1 At the time of trial, Hilary O’Brien had changed her name to Hilary Leiker. daughters. The children were 12, 7, and 4 years old. They were in Mother’s physical custody except for Thursday overnights, alternating weekends, certain holidays, and two weeks in the summer. On July 21, 2018, Mother married Jason Leiker. They have a daughter together, born in approximately April 2018. On January 24, 2019, Leiker was declared to be the father of the child born to his relationship with Mother. On December 5, 2018, Mother submitted a relocation letter to Father stating her intention to move with the children from Kansas City to Phoenix, Arizona. This is a distance of approximately 1200 miles. Father filed a motion to prevent relocation of the children on December 21, 2018. The matter proceeded to trial on October 4, 2019. At the time of the relocation trial, Mother and Father’s daughters were 13, 8, and 5 years old. Leiker and Mother’s daughter was 18 months old. Mother’s evidence at trial in support of relocation to Phoenix was Leiker had a change of employment, the oldest daughter had educational struggles in Kansas City, and there were better educational opportunities for all daughters in Phoenix. Leiker had been in Arizona, without Mother and the children, since January 2019. The court found that Mother’s request was made in good faith. It further found, however, that Mother failed to meet her burden under section 452.377, RSMo, to show that her proposed relocation is in the best interest of her and Father’s minor children. The court did not grant Mother permission to relocate the children. This appeal follows. Standard of Review 2 “In a court-tried case, we will uphold the trial court's judgment as long as it is supported by substantial evidence, is not against the weight of the evidence, and does not erroneously declare or apply the law.” Courtney v. Courtney, 550 S.W.3d 522, 525–26 (Mo. App. E.D. 2017) (citing Murphy v. Carron, 536 S.W.2d 30, 32 (Mo. banc 1976)). “We defer to the trial court’s determinations of credibility and view all facts and any inferences drawn therefrom in ...</p><br>
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