Assigned on Briefs November 12, 2014
Appeal from the Juvenile Court for Montgomery County No. VTCV132031 Andrew Jackson, Judge
James R. Potter, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Melisa I. and Andrew B.
Gregory D. Smith, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Celeste and Albert B.
Andy D. Bennett, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Richard H. Dinkins, and W. Neal McBrayer, JJ., joined.
ANDY D. BENNETT, JUDGE
Factual and Procedural Background
Melisa I. ("Mother") and Andrew B. ("Father") are the parents of Camryne B., born in November 2004. Mother and Father were never married. Father filed a petition for legitimation in October 2008, and the parties entered into an agreed permanent parenting plan establishing parenting time and child support. Celeste B. ("Grandmother") and Albert B. ("Grandfather"), (collectively "Grandparents"), are the paternal grandmother and paternal step-grandfather, respectively, of Camryne. Mother had another child, Makenzie J., born in June 2000, who was legally adopted by Grandmother in March 2013.
Grandmother and Grandfather had periods of visitation with Camryne until the summer of 2012. Disagreements and hostilities developed between Mother and Father and Grandmother, and Mother and Father decided that it was in Camryne's best interest not to have further visitation with Grandmother.
In May 2013, Grandparents filed a petition for grandparent and sibling visitation pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 36-6-302 and 36-6-306. On September 26, 2013, the trial court entered an order by default in favor of Grandparents, finding that they had a "significant existing relationship with" Camryne and that it was "not in the best interest of the minor child to deny the visitation." The court went on to order that Grandparents have visitation with Camryne every third weekend from Friday to Sunday, one week during the summer, and one day during the Christmas season. The court also made provision for telephone contact and transportation.
The default order was set aside by the court on December 18, 2013, on a motion of Mother and Father. About a week later, Grandparents moved for contempt on the grounds that the court had ordered Mother and Father to continue visitation pursuant to the default order until the hearing set for February 28, 2014. The court entered an order on January 22, 2014, in which it clarified that "visitation would continue to take place pursuant to the Default order . . . until this matter could be heard on February 28, 2014."
Grandmother testified that she had stopped seeing Camryne in July or August of 2012. She thought that the reason she had not been seeing Camryne was that she "didn't like what [Father] and [Mother] were playing. Camryne spent most of her time down in Nashville with [her maternal grandmother], which I don't mind her being with [her maternal grandmother], but we were not getting any time with Camryne."
Grandmother stated that, before the visits stopped, she would see Camryne every day before school and after school until Mother got off of work. Before Camryne started to school, Grandmother testified, they would see her at least one weekend a month. Once she started school, Camryne would ride the bus to and from school from Grandmother's house with Makenzie. According to Grandmother, Makenzie and Camryne were very close.
Grandmother testified that she had not argued with either parent in front of Camryne. She stated that she did have concerns about Mother and Father's parenting of Camryne and Mother's failure to pay attention to Makenzie. Grandmother also had concerns about Mother's stability, stating that she had lived at twelve different addresses in fourteen years. Camryne had been in three schools in five years. Grandmother admitted spanking Makenzie and grabbing her by the hair on one occasion, but denied beating her, slamming her head into the wall, or throwing her to the ground.
On cross-examination, Grandmother admitted telling Mother and Father in an e-mail sent on July 31, 2012, that Camryne could no longer be dropped off at her house for their convenience, that she would no longer be the drop-off point as contemplated in the parenting plan, and that she did not want to be put on the school contact list. Grandmother stated: "I wanted them to do their jobs as parents."
Grandmother also admitted that Makenzie took a multitool to school, which included a two-and-three-eighth-inch blade, and the school took issue with her having what they considered to be a knife at school. Grandmother further acknowledged that Makenzie set a curtain on fire.
Grandfather testified that the relationship between Camryne and Makenzie was a loving sister relationship. He had not seen Camryne in over two years. Grandfather was a civilian contractor working ...