In re Marriage of Saab and Zagorsky (Apr. 24, 2024, A166160) 2024 WL 1756082

Years after a mother and father (GMSR’s client) agreed to a final custody order involving their daughter, a family law court modified the order, granting the father tie-breaking authority in the event that the two parents disagreed about healthcare or educational decisions.

The mother appealed.  She argued that in modifying the custody order, the trial court failed to apply the “changed circumstances” test.  She also asserted that no substantial evidence supported the family court judgment and the court had abused its discretion.

The Court of Appeal affirmed.  It agreed with GMSR’s arguments that the appeal was controlled by the fundamental precepts of appellate litigation.  First, because the mother had failed to raise the “changed circumstances” issue in both her statement of decision request and her objections to the proposed statement of decision, she had waived the issue on appeal.  The appellate court was required to presume that the lower court applied the test even though the statement of decision did not explicitly mention it.  Second, the lower court was justified in altering the custody order given the state of the evidence, the court’s findings, and the deferential standards of review that applied.

To read the Court of Appeal Opinion, click HERE.