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Pikula v. Pikula

Supreme Court of Minnesota
374 N.W.2d 705 (1985)


Facts

On March 29, 1980, Kelly Jo Pikula (plaintiff) and Dana David Pikula (defendant) were married. The Pikulas’ first daughter, Tiffany, was eight months old at the time of the Pikulas’ marriage. Shortly after, the Pikulas moved to Dana’s hometown, where they had frequent contact with Dana’s close-knit family. In 1981, Kelly had the couple’s second daughter, Tanisha. Kelly’s role was to care for the children and manage the home. Dana worked a split shift outside the home for his father’s trucking company. Kelly had a quick temper, and Dana suffered from chemical dependency, which led the couple to separate. While the Pikulas were awaiting a trial on their divorce, the Pikulas agreed to a joint-custody arrangement. Three professional social workers prepared reports for the trial judge, and all three recommended that custody be awarded to Kelly, with Dana having reasonable visitation with the children. However, the trial court found that Dana’s extended family was a strong, stable, and religious group, and that Kelly’s family was the opposite. Thus, the trial judge awarded custody to Dana. The court of appeals reversed the trial court and held that the trial court abused its discretion in awarding Dana custody. Dana appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Wahl, J.)

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