Supreme Court affirms Laramie County custody decision

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Supreme Court ruled recently that the Laramie County District Court didn’t abuse its discretion when it said a mother wasn’t allowed to consume alcohol during visits with her child.

The Supreme Court ultimately ruled that there was ample evidence to support the decision by Judge Catherine Rogers. The case, Aimee V. Kidd vs. Matthew Jacobson, examined the mother’s alcohol use and run-ins with law enforcement due to her alcohol use.

This is the second time custody issues between Kidd and Jacobson have come before the Supreme Court. This second appeal is based upon a previous decision where the high court remanded custody issues back to the district court because it found there was sufficient reasoning to rework the custody agreement that the district court didn’t do.

The mother then appealed this remanded decision, and the Supreme Court examined whether the district court abused its discretion when it ordered Kidd not to drink any alcohol when visiting her children.

The Supreme Court said alcohol use is a factor that impacts children and can be taken into account when courts are deciding child custody and visitation arrangements. Previously, Kidd was awarded primary custody of the children, but the high court determined that was a “material change of circumstances,” and ordered the district court revisit the custody and visitation arrangements.

The district court then entered a new ruling, issuing Jacobson primary custody and Kidd visitation. But during the visits, Kidd couldn’t partake in any alcohol use and had to take a chemical test twice daily when the children were with her.

The Supreme Court said Kidd’s “unstable lifestyle, poor decision-making and inappropriate use of alcohol” was cause for the change in custody. The high court also said that it’s not uncommon for courts to limit alcohol consumption around children.

Kidd said the only evidence the district court could consider for her alcohol use was that presented in a March 2019 evidentiary hearing. But the high court said Kidd failed to recognize that the custody modification was a result of the Supreme Court remanding the issue back to the district court.

Therefore, all the evidence in the timespan of the custody arrangements was fair game for the district court to consider.

The district court heard evidence from instances of alcohol abuse on Kidd’s part from 2012, 2014, February 2015, September 2015, January 2016, December 2016 and most recently, an incident in February 2019.

This evidence was relevant to the children’s best interest, and the court didn’t abuse its discretion with its ruling, according to the Supreme Court.