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Skelton v. Skelton

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

May 16, 2017

JAMES RYAN SKELTON
v.
JENNA MARIE SKELTON

          Assigned on Briefs July 1, 2016

         Appeal from the Chancery Court for Lewis County No. 2010CV115 Joseph Woodruff, Chancellor

         A father and mother moved to modify a permanent parenting plan in which they were each named primary residential parent. Both parents alleged, for different reasons, that a material change in circumstance had occurred sufficient to modify custody. After a hearing, the court determined a material change in circumstance had occurred and that modification of the current joint custody arrangement was in the child's best interest. The court named the father the primary residential parent and granted the mother liberal visitation. The mother appeals, arguing that the court erred in finding that her move was a material change and in dismissing her modification petition. Upon review, we conclude that the evidence does not preponderate against the chancery court's findings, and the court did not err in dismissing Mother's petition. Accordingly, we affirm.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery Court Affirmed

          Ronald G. Freemon, Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jenna Marie Skelton.

          Melanie Totty Cagle, Centerville, Tennessee, for the appellee, James Ryan Skelton.

          W. Neal McBrayer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John W. McClarty and Brandon O. Gibson, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          W. NEAL McBRAYER, JUDGE.

         I.

         On September 30, 2013, Ryan Skelton ("Father") filed a petition in the Chancery Court for Lewis County, Tennessee, to modify an agreed permanent parenting plan order concerning his son, Davin.[1] The agreed permanent parenting plan order named both Father and Davin's mother, Jenna Skelton ("Mother"), as primary residential parents and awarded each parent 182.5 days of parenting time each year. The plan also contained the following provision related to the child's schooling:

The parties agree that the minor child shall attend Lewis County School System on Jan. 3rd, 2013 and if he fails to do so then the Mother shall be in contempt of court. Each party agrees that before the minor child can be removed from the Lewis County School System or if the parent relocates outside of Lewis County, they SHALL have court approval.

         In his modification petition, Father alleged several material changes had occurred, namely Davin's mother had relocated outside of Lewis County in violation of the parenting plan, adopted a "partying" lifestyle, neglected Davin's educational needs, and engaged in inappropriate relationships. Father asked the court to award him sole custody and sole authority to make decisions regarding Davin's education.

         Mother initially denied any material change had occurred. Then, on May 8, 2015, Mother filed a cross-petition also seeking a custody modification. Mother alleged a material change had occurred in that Father had changed jobs, and his new job required him to be away from home Monday through Friday; thus, he was only able to parent Davin on the weekends.

         A. Proof at Trial

         The court held a hearing on the cross-petitions to modify custody on June 23, 2015. We summarize the testimony only to the extent relevant to Mother's move, Davin's educational needs ...


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