In re Alexandra J.D.

Facts: Child was born to unmarried parents. A co-parenting schedule was established with Mother as the primary residential parent. Problems ensued, which the Court summarized as follows:

Numerous motions and responses have been filed in this protracted case. Father filed at least nine motions for contempt when Mother would not allow Father to pick up the Child for his co-parenting time or made the transfer difficult. During one instance, Mother would not answer the door in order to exchange the Child for Father’s Christmas visitation. At another time, Mother claimed “she had forgotten about the co-parenting time” and that both she and the Child were sick. Such incidents continued over a four-year span.

Father petitioned to change custody. After a trial, the trial court found the statutory factor of “the willingness and ability of each of the parents and caregivers to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and both of the child’s parents” was especially relevant and

the factor . . . very significantly weighs for the father here in that the evidence presented, including the testimony of the mother herself, clearly and convincingly evidences that the mother has completely failed to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-[child] relationship between the child and her father, and in fact has often acted to hinder that relationship to the child’s significant detriment. . . .

The trial court awarded custody to Father. Mother appealed.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court.

Although she denied the fact at trial, at her July 2006 deposition, Mother admitted that she made derogatory comments about Father in front of the Child — specifically that he was “only” the biological father of the Child. She ignored a court order that the Child’s last. name shall be “F_____” (Father’s last name) claiming that she did not understand the order. On numerous occasions, she wrongfully deprived Father of his visitation — this court finds particularly revealing the occasion when Father was knocking on Mother’s front door for a custody transfer and Mother went out a side door with the Child and left in her car for lunch. Mother further acknowledged that she would, on occasion, take approximately 20 minutes from the time Father showed up to pick up the Child before he actually received her. She described Father’s visitation as “punishment for me for her to be away from home.” She also admitted that she cut off all communication with Father’s household, would not return telephone calls, and blocked his e-mails.

In reviewing this record, the Court of Appeals could find no abuse of discretion by the trial court.

In re Alexandra J.D. (Tennessee Court of Appeals, Dec. 10, 2010).

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

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K.O. Herston is a family-law attorney in Knoxville, Tennessee whose practice is devoted exclusively to family law, including divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, prenuptial agreements, and other aspects of family law.

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