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In re Marriage of Hartmann

June 23, 2010

IN RE MARRIAGE OF VICTORIA AND PETER HARTMANN.
VICTORIA HARTMANN, APPELLANT,
v.
PETER HARTMANN, RESPONDENT.



(Santa Barbara County Super. Ct. No. 1111484). Thomas P. Anderle, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gilbert, P.J.

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

An order restrains a party from interfering with a custody order. The restraining order is not overbroad. Like a stop sign, it requires no explanation. It simply tells a party to stop interfering with the custody order.

Victoria Hartmann (Wife) appeals the denial of her motion to vacate an order restraining her from interfering with Peter Hartmann's (Husband) child custody time. We conclude the restraining order is neither ambiguous nor overbroad. It simply makes explicit what is implicit in every child custody order: a party may not interfere with the order. We affirm.

FACTS

The parties were married in January 1990. They have three daughters: one, age 17 years old, and twins, ages 14 years old.

The parties separated in July 2002. Wife filed for dissolution of the marriage six months later. The trial on the dissolution was held in August 2007. The parties reached a stipulation concerning their property, leaving child custody and support to be decided.

Wife wanted to send the oldest daughter to an out-of-state boarding school. The daughter previously attended the school and wanted to return. Husband opposed the plan because he wanted to be in his daughter's life daily. In addition, Husband believed his daughter had developed behavioral problems during her previous attendance at the school and needed more supervision. He therefore requested that she attend a local public high school.

By order of August 15, 2007, the trial court determined that the parties have equal physical custody of the children on alternating weeks. The court also ordered that the oldest daughter attend a local public high school.

On September 7, 2007, Wife filed an ex parte application for an order permitting the oldest daughter to attend a local private school. The court denied the motion.

On September 24, 2007, Husband applied for an order restraining Wife from, among other matters, "interfering with [Husband's] custodial time." In part, Husband complained that Wife told the children every detail of the trial. The children reported to him that he won because he lied on the stand; that the parties do not have to follow the court's custody or school placement orders; and that he obtained joint custody only to reduce his child support obligation.

After a hearing, on October 24, 2007, at which the parties presented oral and documentary evidence, the trial court granted Husband's request for the restraining order. In granting the order, the court stated: "[Wife] has approached the decision of this Court as though it was only a 'work in progress.' It is not. [Husband's] contention that [Wife] has attempted to alienate the children by her actions, words and demeanor appears to this Court to be accurate."

Unfortunately, the matter did not end there. In April 2008, Husband filed an order to show cause for contempt. Husband claimed Wife continued to interfere with his custody, including refusal to tell him where his oldest daughter was, and still spoke to the children about attending boarding schools. The matter was continued to allow the parties to participate in family therapy.

On August 25, 2008, Wife filed a motion to discharge the contempt citation on the ground the restraining order was void because it was uncertain and ambiguous. In September 2008, Husband took his order to show cause for contempt off calendar. In March 2009, Wife filed another motion to vacate the October 24, 2007, restraining order on the same grounds. The trial court rejected her ...


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