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In re Jayden C.

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

March 23, 2015

IN RE JAYDEN C.

Session January 21, 2015

Appeal from the Juvenile Court for Trousdale County No. 47741076 Ken Witcher, Judge.

Andrea Hagan and Anthony Ensley Hagan, Jr., Lebanon, Tennessee, for the appellant, Porsche L. L. [1]

James H. Flood, Lebanon, Tennessee, for the appellee, William J. C.

Frank G. Clement, Jr., P.J., M.S., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Andy D. Bennett and W. Neal McBrayer, JJ., joined.

OPINION

FRANK G. CLEMENT, JR., JUDGE.

Porsche L. L. ("Mother") and William J. C. ("Father") began dating in 2006 and had one child together, Jayden C., born October 2007. Jayden is Mother's only child, while Father has a minor child from a previous relationship. The couple shared a tumultuous relationship until February 2013 when they separated for the final time.

During Mother's pregnancy, the couple first separated and Mother moved in with her parents in Trousdale County. When Jayden was three to five months old, Mother and Father reconciled, and Mother and Jayden moved in with Father into his mother's home. In August 2008, when Jayden was ten months old, Father purchased a three-bedroom home in Wilson County, and Mother and Jayden moved in with him. In November 2008, Father's other child, Alexandria, who is a few years older than Jayden, began living in the home. During this time, Father continued to work and supported Mother and Jayden while Mother cared for Jayden and attended college at Cumberland University.

In the spring of 2011, the couple separated for the second time; Mother and Jayden moved back into her parents' home. The parties agreed that Father could visit the child every other weekend and that he would pay $95 a week to cover the cost of daycare.

On June 22, 2011, Father filed a Petition for Paternity and Custody and a Motion for Custody and Child Support Pendente Lite. Soon thereafter, Father's Motion for Custody and Child Support Pendente Lite came on for hearing. The pendent lite order that followed, which was entered on August 8, 2011, reads in pertinent part:

The Court, on its own Motion and due to commitments, continued this matter to an indefinite date. Until further order, the Court determined that the current situation should continue. It is, therefore, Ordered that:
1. [Father] is the biological Father of the minor child Jayden . . . .
2. Said minor child shall remain with [Mother].
3. The Father shall continue to pay child support to the Mother in the amount of Ninety-Five Dollars ($95) per week.

The August 2011 pendente lite order also directed that Father would continue to have visitation every other weekend, that Father would continue to provide health insurance for the child, and that "all other matters shall be held in reserve."

In October 2011, the couple reconciled again, and Mother and Jayden moved back in with Father. In 2012, the couple separated for a few weeks with Mother and Jayden returning to her parents' home, but the couple reconciled yet again, and Mother and Jayden moved back in with Father. In February 2013, Mother and Jayden moved out the final time; they began living with one of Mother's friends near Father's home while Mother simultaneously worked at a restaurant and finished obtaining her degree.

In September 2013, Mother graduated, and she and Jayden permanently moved back in with her parents in Trousdale County. Jayden had been attending kindergarten at Sam Houston Elementary School since July 2013, but Mother placed him in Trousdale County Elementary School when she moved back with her parents. In October 2013, Mother began working for Genco Logistics; her work schedule varied weekly, but she would leave for work around 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. and would return home between 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., sometimes working weekends. Mother heavily relied on her parents in caring for the child during the week; the grandparents helped Jayden get ready for school, prepared his meals, and transported him to and from school. Father continued to visit the child every other weekend and pay $95 a week.

After their final separation, Mother filed an Answer to Father's Petition for Custody and filed her own Counter-Petition for custody. Trial was held on March 4, 2014; the trial court noted from the bench that "both of these parents are good parents, " but since the parents lived so far apart it would not be practical to make an equal division of time between the parents. The trial court considered the factors outlined in Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-6-106 and determined that the majority of factors weighed in Father's favor. As a result, the trial court awarded custody to Father and awarded Mother 100 days of visitation and ordered her to pay support in the amount of $88 per week.

Before the trial court entered a written order, Mother filed a motion requesting that the court reopen the proof due to additional information obtained in an affidavit from Father's ex-girlfriend concerning Father's treatment of Jayden. The trial court denied Mother's motion to allow additional proof, finding that "the motion on its face did not ...


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