Posted by: koherston | August 26, 2010

In re Drake L.

Facts: Unmarried parents entered into agreed parenting plan designating Mother as primary residential parent and establishing parenting time for Father.  Father filed a petition to modify the parenting plan alleging a substantial and material change in circumstances that necessitated his being declared the primary residential parent of Child.  The trial court found (1) Mother moved to Colorado with Child without providing Father proper statutory notice; (2) Mother admitted to having her boyfriend as an overnight guest in her home while exercising her residential parenting time with Child in violation of the juvenile court’s order; (3) Mother admitted to smoking in the home with Child present, even though Child has been diagnosed with respiratory problems; and (4) it was in Child’s best interest that Father be made the primary residential parent. Mother appealed.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court, noting there was sufficient evidence in the record to support the trial court’s findings.

Mother’s testimony indicated that she had changed jobs and residences several times in the past few years.  She testified that she had moved at least four times since 2004.  At the time of trial, Mother was residing with her husband in a trailer owned by her mother, who had yet to charge them rent.  Prior to that, Mother lost her home to foreclosure.  In addition, Mother was arrested for DUI and charged with reckless driving.  She continued to drive after her license was revoked.  Mother was not providing a stable home environment.

Mother moved with [Child] at least four times between 2004 and the trial in 2008, plus two other attempts to move out of state.  The fiancé for whom Mother moved to Virginia in 2005 was not the man who became her husband in 2008.  Mother failed to provide Father the proper statutory notice when she attempted to move to Colorado in 2007.  While in Colorado, Mother and [Child] lived with a friend who had used drugs when she was living with Mother and [Child] previously.  Additionally, it is undisputed that Mother had a restricted driver’s license, but continued to drive in a manner contrary to her restrictions.

The trial court found Father to be the comparatively more stable parent.  The Court of Appeals found there was sufficient evidence to show a change of custody was in Child’s best interest.

In re Drake L. (Tenn. Ct. App. July 13, 2010).

Information provided by K.O. Herston, Tennessee Divorce Lawyer.

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