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Summers v. Layne

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

April 29, 2015

ALBERT FRANKLIN SUMMERS
v.
NAKISHA LAYNE

Session Date January 27, 2015

Appeal from the Chancery Court for Giles County No. 5235 Jim T. Hamilton, Judge

J. Christopher William, Pulaski, Tennessee, for the appellant, Nakisha Layne.

Robert D. Massey, Pulaski, Tennessee, for the appellee, Albert Franklin Summers.

Arnold B. Goldin, J. delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Brandon O. Gibson, J. and Kenny Armstrong, J., joined.

MEMORANDUM OPINION [1]

ARNOLD B. GOLDIN, JUDGE

I. Background and Procedural History

The parties in this case are the unmarried parents of the minor child at issue, who was born on June 19, 2007. Father commenced the present action on December 7, 2011, by filing a petition to establish paternity in the Chancery Court of Giles County, Tennessee. In his petition, Father averred he was the minor child's natural biological father and asked that the trial court determine his parenting rights and obligations. Father claimed he was a fit and proper person to be designated as the primary residential parent of the child, and he prayed that the trial court enter a permanent parenting plan specifically designating him as such.

On December 21, 2011, the trial court entered an agreed order governing the parties' sharing of parenting time during the Christmas holiday, and on January 4, 2012, the trial court entered a temporary parenting plan pursuant to which the parties were ordered to share equal residential parenting time.[2] On March 14, 2013, Mother filed an answer to Father's petition and a counter-petition to modify the existing temporary parenting plan. Therein, Mother admitted that Father was the minor child's natural biological father, but she averred that she should be named the primary residential parent upon the entry of a permanent parenting plan. Father filed his answer to Mother's counter-petition on May 31, 2013. On April 9, 2014, the trial court conducted a custody hearing in this case.

At trial, the court heard proof from six witnesses. In addition to hearing the testimony of Mother, Father, and their respective fiancés, the trial court heard testimony from one of the minor child's former teachers, as well as testimony from one of Father's friends in Pulaski, Tennessee. Both Mother and Father retained residences in Pulaski as of the date of trial, but Mother testified that she desired to relocate to Kentucky, where she was already working for the Ford Motor Company and where her fiancé lived.[3]

On June 4, 2014, the trial court entered its order based on the proof heard at the April 9, 2014, custody hearing. The order stated that Mother had failed to comply with the parental relocation statute regarding her contemplated move to Kentucky and also found that the minor child's best interests would be served by adopting the parenting plan proposed by Father. The order further provided that, should Mother decide to relocate from Tennessee, the parties should submit a permanent parenting plan providing for visitation on certain specified terms that were outlined in the order. The order concluded by directing the parties to submit the appropriate permanent parenting plan within fourteen days of the entry of the order.

On August 18, 2014, the trial court entered a permanent parenting plan. The plan designated Father as the primary residential parent for the minor child and provided that Mother's visitation was to occur on the terms outlined in the trial court's June 4, 2014, order that were contingent on Mother's relocation. Specifically, the permanent parenting plan allocated Mother parenting time "[o]ne weekend per month except for December[, ]" in addition to certain specified holiday and vacation periods.[4] Mother now appeals.[5]

II. Issues Presented

The issues raised by Mother on appeal, as stated in her ...


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