Session Date: October 22, 2014
Appeal from the Juvenile Court for Montgomery County No. 156112 Ray Grimes, Judge
Stacy T. Olson-Turner, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Angie M.
Thomas J. Bailey, Madison, Tennessee, for the appellees, Shane B. and Amanda M.
W. Neal McBrayer, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Frank G. Clement, Jr., P.J., M.S., and Brandon O. Gibson, J., joined.
W. NEAL McBRAYER, JUDGE
I. Background and Procedural History
Shane B. ("Father") and Amanda M. ("Mother") are the parents of Caleb B. Although Mother and Father have never been married, they lived together briefly prior to Caleb's birth in 2004. Sometime in 2003, before Mother and Father began living together, Father was arrested and pled guilty to possession of cocaine for resale. He received an eight year community corrections sentence. Following Caleb's birth, Father was arrested once again and convicted of selling ecstasy, a Schedule I controlled substance. After his conviction, Father was incarcerated until 2006. Upon his release, he was placed back on community corrections for the remainder of the eight years.
Caleb has spent most of his life in the shared custody of Mother and her mother, Angie M. ("Grandmother"). Following his birth in 2004, Mother and Caleb returned from the hospital to live with Grandmother. According to Grandmother, Mother's living situation following Caleb's birth was unstable; she allegedly moved back and forth between multiple residences with various family members and friends. Grandmother kept Caleb during these periods of itinerancy. Mother's version of these events is slightly different. Although she acknowledges that she would stay with different friends or family members from time to time, particularly when she and Grandmother had a falling out, she maintains that she continuously lived with Grandmother and Caleb. Under either version of events, during this time period, Mother lived a "party" lifestyle, and much of the responsibility for raising Caleb fell upon Grandmother.
At some point,  Mother met a man, and they married. Mother and Caleb then moved with her new husband to Augusta, Georgia. However, the relationship encountered difficulties, and Mother eventually divorced. Mother and Caleb returned to Grandmother's home in Tennessee, and Mother entered an agreed order providing for grandparent visitation on March 25, 2009.  The order provided visitation for
Grandmother and her husband "every weekend with the minor child, [Caleb], from Saturday, 12:00 pm (noon) until Sunday, 12:00 pm (noon)." The grandparents were also provided with visitation on Christmas Eve every year from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and one continuous week during the summer to be agreed upon between the parties. In 2010, Mother entered into an agreement granting Grandmother the power to make decisions over Caleb's medical care and education should Mother be unavailable.
Throughout this time period, Father had little or no contact with Caleb. He claims that this was partially because of his incarceration and partially because Mother and her family discouraged any contact. Father stayed current with his child support obligations from 2006 and covered all arrearages before that time by sending checks to Mother. Father also claims to have purchased clothes, shoes, and school supplies for Caleb. However, Grandmother testified that she took primary financial responsibility for Caleb's upbringing and never received any money from Mother.
Father filed a "Petition to Change Custody" on September 22, 2010, seeking to be designated as Caleb's primary residential parent and alleging, among other things, that Mother was subjecting Caleb to substandard living conditions and abusing prescription pain pills. Mother filed an answer in December 2010. While awaiting further proceedings, in June 2011, Father was arrested yet again and charged with being a felon in possession of firearms and selling synthetic marijuana.
While the custody proceedings were pending, Mother and Father reconciled and resumed living together in August 2011. Upon learning of the couple's reconciliation, Grandmother responded by filing a petition to intervene for custody of Caleb on August 11, 2011. Grandmother also sought a temporary restraining order granting her custody pending the outcome of the current ...