Assigned on Briefs September 2, 2014
Appeal from the Juvenile Court for Davidson County No. PT147110 Sophia Brown Crawford, Judge
Cynthia Greene-Campbell, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tunja A.
No brief filed on behalf of the appellee, Matrice W.
W. Neal McBrayer, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Frank G. Clement, Jr., P.J., M.S., and Andy D. Bennett, J., joined.
W. NEAL McBRAYER, JUDGE
I. Factual and Procedural Background
Teven A. was born in early 2005 out of wedlock to Tunja A. ("Father") and Matrice W. ("Mother"). Later that year, Father petitioned the Juvenile Court for Davidson County to establish paternity and set visitation. The parties subsequently agreed that Father was Teven's biological and legal father, and Mother was made the primary residential parent. By order entered on November 21, 2005, the juvenile court set the parties' parenting time. Father was granted two days of overnight visitation with the child every other week. On the alternate weeks, Father was granted one day of visitation with the child when Father was not working. Additionally, Father had four weeks of summer visitation with Teven. The parties evenly shared Christmas visitation each year and alternated visitation on other holidays. The court also ordered Father to pay $703.00 per month in child support.
In 2008, the parties reconciled, and Father's child support obligation was terminated because the parties were living together. The record does not reveal when the parties separated or stopped living together. However, following a hearing on January 14, 2011, the juvenile court entered an Agreed Order Setting Child Support requiring Father to pay $276.00 in monthly child support and to provide medical insurance for Teven. The order also granted Father reasonable visitation rights "as agreed to by the parties" with the proviso that either party could petition the court for a specific order of visitation if they were unable to agree.
In September 2011, Father petitioned to modify custody, claiming there had been a material change in circumstance since the January 14, 2011 order. Specifically, Father alleged the following changed circumstances: (1) Mother had threatened to remove Teven from the magnet school he attended; (2) Mother was unemployed; (3) Mother had parties at home while Teven was present; (4) Mother placed Teven in the care of her sister, where he experienced unsafe and unhygienic living conditions; (5) Mother frequently became "irate" with Father; and (6) Father often assisted Mother in paying her bills. Father also alleged that it was in Teven's best interest to live with Father and have reasonable visitation with Mother. On October 24, 2012, Mother filed an answer to the petition and counterclaim requesting that the court modify the January 2011 child support order because of a significant variance in Father's income.
A magistrate judge held a hearing on Father's petition to modify custody on May 13, 2013. The magistrate dismissed the petition finding there "[wa]s no substantial material change in circumstances in th[e] matter; therefore a change of custody [wa]s not justified." The order specified that it was "clear from the testimony of the parties that there were no circumstances that changed between the parties since the court's January 14, 2011 order granting custody to Mother." Although a change in the primary residential parent was found to be unwarranted, the magistrate concluded that the "parenting time arrangement [was] too ambiguous." Therefore, a hearing was scheduled to address parenting time and Mother's petition for child support modification.
Following a hearing held on June 10, 2013, the magistrate modified Father's parenting time and child support obligation. Other than incorporating by reference a child support worksheet, the magistrate's order contained no findings of fact or conclusions of law. Father was granted overnight visitation from Monday evening to Wednesday morning, every other week. During the alternate weeks, the court ordered that Father have visitation with Teven from Sunday evening to Monday morning. The parties continued to evenly share Christmas break, but the order did not provide for other holidays or address visitation during the summer. The court also increased Father's child support obligation to $739.00 per month and awarded Mother $3, 178.00 in retroactive child support.
Father moved for a rehearing of his petition before a juvenile court judge. After being granted leave by the court, Father also amended his original petition to request a change of custody or, in the alternative, equal parenting time. The amended petition alleged that there had been a material change in circumstance since the 2005 visitation order, rather than the 2011 order.
On October 11, 2013, the juvenile court judge entered an order upholding the magistrate's ruling in all ...