Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Neylan H.

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

December 29, 2016

IN RE: NEYLAN H.

          Session August 9, 2016

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Greene County No. 14A020 Douglas T. Jenkins, Chancellor Sitting By Interchange

         Terri W.H. ("Mother") and Justin H. ("Stepfather") filed a petition seeking to terminate the parental rights of James P. ("Father") to the minor child Neylan H. ("the Child") in order to allow Stepfather to adopt the Child. After a trial, the Circuit Court for Greene County ("the Trial Court") entered its order denying the petition after finding and holding, inter alia, that Mother and Stepfather had failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that Father had abandoned the Child by willful failure to provide support. Mother appeals to this Court. We find and hold that the evidence does not preponderate against the findings made by the Trial Court, and we affirm.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed Case Remanded

          Douglas R. Beier, Morristown, Tennessee, for the appellant, Terri W.H. Douglas R. Beier, Morristown, Tennessee, for the appellee, Justin H. [1]

          Jefferson B. Fairchild, Rogersville, Tennessee, for the appellee, James P.

          D. MICHAEL SWINEY, C.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which CHARLES D. SUSANO, JR. and THOMAS R. FRIERSON, II, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          D. MICHAEL SWINEY, CHIEF JUDGE

         Background

         The Child was born in March of 2012, out of wedlock. Mother, Father, and the Child lived together from July of 2012 until March of 2013. Father moved out of Mother's house one day after the Child's first birthday. In November of 2013, Mother married Stepfather. The Child has lived with Mother and Stepfather since their marriage. In October of 2014, Mother and Stepfather filed a petition seeking to terminate the parental rights of Father to the Child in order to allow Stepfather to adopt the Child. The case was tried without a jury in September of 2015.

         Mother testified at trial that she and Stepfather also have a fourteen month old daughter. Mother, Stepfather, their daughter, and the Child live in a house owned by Mother. Mother explained that she had resided in this house for a number of years prior to marrying Stepfather.

         Mother testified about her relationship with Father. Mother stated that Father never lived with Mother, but did stay at her home from July of 2012 until March of 2013. When Mother and Father decided to separate, Father moved out because Mother owned the house. The Child was one year old when Father moved out.

         According to Mother, Father spent no significant time with the Child during the time that Father lived with them. Mother stated: "During the six months that [Father] stayed with me he stayed in the guest bedroom. He played videogames and he was on his phone all the time. When I went to work my mother would watch [the Child], who lived right up the road." Mother testified:

[Father] watched [the Child] once while he lived there and that was for a two (2) hour period and then he called my mother to come and get him because his belly hurt. [Father] said that his belly hurt so my mother went down to my house and got him, took him up to . . . . Went down to my house and got [the Child], brought him up to her house.

         Mother stated that when she got home on the day "[Father] watched [the Child]" she checked the Child's "bottom and he had a diaper rash so [Father] didn't watch him anymore after that."

         Mother testified that Father did not spend any significant time with the Child after March of 2013. She stated that he visited "four to five (5) [times]. And that wasn't long periods." Mother testified that Father visited one more time in October. She stated: "We went to the park. I was there as well. He stayed for forty-five (45) minutes and then left." Mother testified that Father has not seen the Child since that time and that the Child does not know who Father is.

         Mother said that Father never gave her any child support and that he did not pay any of the birth expenses or medical bills. Mother testified that she asked Father for support and that he responded by saying "[h]e wasn't going to give me any money." Mother denied that Father provided any money or support for food or bills while they lived together. Mother testified that during that time she was a fulltime student and that she also worked at Flip Zone.

Mother testified about Stepfather's relationship with the Child stating:
[Stepfather] has been involved with [the Child] since we got together. He's never pushed [the Child] aside. He's always taken him in. [The Child] actually started calling [Stepfather] daddy. They have a great relationship. Every time he gets home or home from work they play ball together. If it's wet outside or rainy outside they'll play games inside. And I mean, he just treats him the same way that he treats our daughter.

         Mother testified that Stepfather participates in feeding, bathing, and putting the Child to bed. Mother works as a registered nurse. When Mother and Stepfather are working, Stepfather's mother cares for the Child.

         Mother acknowledged that she wants Stepfather to adopt the Child. Mother stated:

Because [Stepfather] has been involved with [the Child] more than [Father] has. They have a great relationship. [Stepfather] has provided . . . ever since that we've been together he's provided [the Child] . . . when I was a fulltime student he is the one that provided [the Child], he bought everything that he needed and they have a great relationship together.

         Mother testified that she and Stepfather began dating in August of 2013. When questioned further, Mother admitted that she and Stepfather had dated previous to that time and had an on again/off again relationship.

         When asked if she had received text messages from Father asking to visit the Child, Mother responded: "I don't remember. . . . I do not have that phone." A transcript was admitted as an exhibit, and Mother admitted that she recognized the transcript as being text messages between her and Father. Mother stated: "Yes sir and it's . . . these are sent late. [The Child's] bedtime is around 8:30 so he knows that he went to bed around that time."

Mother was asked to read one of the texts from Father, and she stated:
"Well just in case you didn't get the message I sent this morning or ignored it I want to see [the Child] when I get off work. Yes or no will be fine." He doesn't get off . . . he didn't get off work until 7:00 so by the time I fed [the Child], bathed him, he would be in bed.

         Mother was asked if she responded by finding another time when Father could visit and she stated: "No. Some of these messages I didn't receive." Father texted at 10:59 one morning asking to see the Child, and Mother admitted that the Child would have been up, but stated: "That was a time that I was in school." At 5:42 p.m. on October 4th Father texted and asked if there was a certain time he could see the Child, and Mother testified that her response was "I said no cause I was out of school and off work at that time." Father then texted: "Well ok. Kind of sucks. I would like to see my son though." Father then sent texts on multiple days asking to see the Child. Mother was asked if she responded, and she stated: "Does he have a copy of his work schedule because I know . . . sometimes he was at work when he would text these."

         Mother was asked why she had testified that Father only asked for token visitation when Father had sent all of these texts, and she stated: "Every single day how can he see him when he's at work though. He was just doing that to say that he asked." When questioned Mother admitted that Father could not have been asking to see the Child just to show evidence in court because nothing had been filed in court at that time. Mother then stated "But how do you know that these [text messages] even went through to me. You can put this on your phone and not even send it through." Mother was asked if she was alleging that was what happened, and she stated: "I'm saying that I can't recall. I don't have any of those in my possession."

         On October 9th Father asked to see the Child, and received no response. On October 10th Father told Mother it had been twenty-eight days since he had been allowed to see the Child. On October 11th Father told Mother that it had been another day since he had been allowed to see his son. Mother stated that her response was: "You can see him anytime you want." Mother allowed Father to see the Child on October 11th for about forty-five minutes at the park. Mother was asked why the visit was at the park, and she stated: "Because I did not want him in my home." Mother was asked why Father was not allowed to pick the Child up and take him for visitation, and Mother stated: "Because the last time he was with him alone it was when he had the dirty diaper and he did not take proper care of him."

         On October 15th Father asked to see the Child, and Mother responded by asking if he was at work. Father then responded that he wanted to see the Child when he got off of work. Mother responded "He will already be in bed." Mother was asked if she refused to allow Father to have visitation, and she stated: "So did you want me to wake my son up so he can come over and see him?" Father offered to come over and spend some time with the Child until the Child "falls asleep." Mother stated: "Which he knows that he takes his bath around 8:00, 8:30 and goes to bed."

         On October 18th Father offered to do visitation at his house or at Mother's, and Mother's response was that they would have to meet in public places. Father asked why they needed to meet in public places, and Mother did not respond. On October 19, 20, 21, and 22, Father asked to see the Child and received no response from Mother. Father sent several texts at the end of October asking if he could take the Child trick-or-treating. Mother did not allow Father to take the Child ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.