Wright v. Lutzi

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Family Law
  • Date Filed: 05-17-2023
  • Case #: A176985
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Aoyagi, P.J., for the court; Joyce, J.; & Jacquot, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Where an obvious clerical error causes a judgment to be internally inconsistent and ambiguous on its face, we may look at the record to determine the court’s true intent and instruct the trial court to modify the judgment accordingly. State v. Sullivan, 29 Or App 55, 58, 562 P2d 560 (1977).

Petitioner (mother) appealed a modification judgment to parenting time and child support provisions of a custody agreement. In Petitioner’s assignment of error, she argued that the trial court’s oral ruling made Petitioner’s home the child’s primary residence and established the child would spend 'three days per week' in the school year and alternating weeks in the summer with the father. The parties agreed to this parenting-time schedule however, the court's written judgment ordered that the father would have 'four overnights' and the mother 'three overnights'. This was in-part due to specific drop off times proposed by the father, that effectively gave him 'four overnights' and mother 'three overnights'. Adding confusion, the child support modification was calculated to provide the mother 202 overnights and the father 163 overnights. Typically, the trial court’s decision is governed by the signed order, regardless of evidence of the judge’s contrary intent. State v. Rood, 129 Or App 422, 425-26, 879 P2d 886 (1994). Although, if a judgment is ambiguous the Court may look to the trial court’s oral statements to resolve the ambiguity. State v. Sullivan, 29 Or App 55, 58, 562 P2d 560 (1977); Rood, 129 Or App at 426 (and internal inconsistency in a judgment due to obvious clerical errors). The Court found that the record is unhelpful due to the inconsistent requests made by the father regarding parenting time. Because the judgement cannot be corrected by looking to the record for evidence of the court’s true or real intent, the Court held there is no way to resolve the inconsistency. Vacated and Remanded.

Advanced Search

Back to Top