S.B., Appellant R.M. Appellee
Appeal from the Order of September 14, 2012, in the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, Civil Division at No. 2011-31094
Appeal from the Order of October 31, 2012, in the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, Civil Division at No. 2011-31094
BEFORE: STEVENS, P.J., LAZARUS and COLVILLE [*] , JJ.
In this consolidated appeal, S.B. ("Mother") appeals from the custody order dated September 14, 2012, and from the amended custody order dated October 31, 2012, in the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, which granted, inter alia, R.M. ("Father") primary physical custody and Mother partial custody of the parties' female child, M.N.M.-B. ("Child"), born in November of 2006. We affirm.
The trial court aptly described the procedural and factual history of this case as follows, in part:
Mother and Father were never married and separated in March of 2009. . . . Father returned to his home country, Paris, France in April of 2010. [Child] lived with Father in France from August 2010 until November 2010. On or about November 15, 2010, the parties entered into a custody agreement which was entered as an Order of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Middlesex County by the Honorable Barry A. Weisberg ["custody agreement"]. The November 15, 2010 custody agreement provides the parties with shared legal custody, Mother with primary physical custody and Father with partial physical custody. . . .
Trial Court Opinion, 01/02/13, at 1-2. The custody agreement provided that Father would have partial custody of Child in France every August, during Child's Christmas break and/or winter break, and during Child's spring break. Father was granted one week of his choosing with Child every year in the United States. In addition, the custody agreement provided, inter alia, that "Mother shall ensure that Skype communication between Father and [Child] occurs every Wednesday at 6 pm Eastern time and every Sunday at 4 pm Eastern time." Id. at 2. The custody agreement also included the following provision:
All provisions of this Agreement as to Father's parenting time and communications with the child are to be strictly construed. In the event Mother breaches the terms of the Agreement, Father may make application to the Court for an Order transferring custody to Father. Upon a finding of interference/breach by the Court, custody shall be transferred to the Father.
The trial court continued with the procedural history as follows:
On or about November 10, 2011, Mother registered the . . . custody agreement in [the] Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. Thereafter, by Order dated December 2, 2011, Judge Weisberg relinquished jurisdiction over the parties' custody matter.
On February 10, 2012, Mother filed Exceptions in Support. On March 30, 2012, Father filed a Petition [to Modify] Custody and a Petition for Contempt. On May 9, 2012, Father filed an Amended Petition to Modify Custody. On May 16, 2012, Father filed an Emergency Petition for Special Relief for Renewal of Minor Child's Passport.
On June 1, 2012, Father appeared with counsel and Mother appeared pro se before this Court for an emergency hearing on Father's Emergency Petition for Special Relief for Renewal of Minor Child's Passport. At the conclusion of the emergency hearing, this Court found that Mother's unwillingness to renew [Child's] U.S. passport was to thwart Father from traveling to France with [Child] for his court-ordered custodial time. As a result, this Court issued an Order dated June 1, 2012, granting Father's Emergency Petition for Special Relief. This Court directed Mother to apply and/or renew the child's U.S. Passport within two (2) days of receiving designated funds from Father. This Court also ordered Mother to promptly provide Father's counsel with proof that she applied for [Child's] U.S. Passport. Immediately upon receipt of [Child's] new U.S. Passport, Mother was to provide the new passport to Father's counsel. Father's request for counsel fees and costs in connection with his Emergency Petition for Special Relief for Renewal of Minor Child's Passport was to be consolidated for review/hearing on the date assigned for outstanding Petitions for Contempt, Modification of Custody and Support Exceptions.
Id. at 3-4.
The hearing was held on September 13 and 14, 2012. At the conclusion of the hearing, on the record and in open court, the trial court granted Father's petitions to modify custody and for contempt, and granted Father primary physical custody and Mother partial physical custody during all of Child's school breaks. The court granted the parties joint legal custody. In addition, the court granted Father's request for counsel fees and costs in connection with his emergency petition for special relief for renewal of minor child's passport.
By written order dated September 14, 2012, the court, inter alia, granted Father's petition to modify custody and granted Father primary physical custody, granted Mother partial physical custody during all of Child's school breaks, and granted the parties joint legal custody. By separate order the same date, the court, inter alia, granted Father's petition to modify custody, granted Father's petition for contempt, and granted Father's request for counsel fees and costs in connection with Father's emergency petition for special relief for renewal of minor child's passport. The order also stated that Father was awarded sole physical custody of Child. On October 31, 2012, the trial court issued an amended order which provided the order "dated September 14, 2012 stating [Father] is awarded sole physical custody is amended to [Father] is awarded primary ...