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Maxfield v. Maxfield

452 N.W.2d 219 (1990)

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Maxfield v. Maxfield

Minnesota Supreme Court

452 N.W.2d 219 (1990)

Facts

In 1977, Steven Maxfield (plaintiff) and Diane Maxfield (defendant) married and had four children while living in Minnesota. Diane served as the primary caregiver and performed the household duties. Steven worked and pursued trade school. By April 1987, Diane had become depressed and was unable to perform her housekeeping duties. Steven moved out of the home upon Diane’s request but continued to visit with the children. Diane began receiving counseling services. In June 1987, Diane told Steven that she and the children were traveling to Pennsylvania to visit with her family. However, once in Pennsylvania, Diane carried out her plan to find an apartment and not return. Steven was unaware of the family’s whereabouts until November, when Diane allowed him to visit. After Steven was unable to persuade Diane to return to Minnesota, he petitioned for a separation and to receive full custody over the children. In response, Diane filed a marriage-dissolution petition and requested full custody. In July 1988, the trial court held a custody hearing, at which time the children were ages 10, eight, four, and two and had been living with Steven in Minnesota for a few weeks. The trial court heard testimony from Steven, Diane, and several other witnesses, including a social worker and a child psychologist. The social worker testified that Diane had been able to perform her housekeeping duties fully while in Pennsylvania. The psychologist testified that the two oldest children clearly loved both of their parents but expressed a preference for living in Minnesota. The trial court awarded Steven full custody based on the best-interests standard. The trial court noted that awarding Steven custody was consistent with a preference to award custody to the primary parent. The matter was appealed. The court of appeals reversed, awarding Diane custody of the three younger children and remanding the issue of custody over the 10-year-old. The matter was appealed again.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Simonett, J.)

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