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Barnett v. White

Court of Appeals of Kentucky

June 28, 2019

JOHN BARNETT APPELLANT
v.
BRITTANY WHITE APPELLEE

          APPEAL FROM MONROE CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE DAVID L. WILLIAMS, JUDGE ACTION NO. 14-CI-00114

          BRIEF FOR APPELLANT: MAUREEN SULLIVAN LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY

          BRIEF FOR APPELLEE: KEVIN C. BURKE JAMIE K. NEAL LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY WESLEY W. STEPHENS TOMPKINSVILLE, KENTUCKY

          BEFORE COMBS, NICKELL AND K. THOMPSON, JUDGES.

          OPINION

          THOMPSON, K., JUDGE.

         John Barnett appeals from the Monroe Circuit Court's custody decree, which denied him a 50/50 timesharing split with his child on the basis that he and the child's mother had difficulty cooperating. As the circuit court properly acted within its discretion in determining the best interest of the child, we affirm.

         Brittany White and John Barnett were cohabitating when their daughter, E.B., (child) was born in December 2013. Five weeks after child's birth, Brittany moved out with child. After paternity was established in a Monroe District Court action in May 2014, John began having visitation with child and paying child support.[1]

         In September 2014, approximately nine months after child's birth, John filed a petition in circuit court seeking joint custody and equal timesharing. He also requested temporary visitation.

         Brittany opposed the motion, stating it was in child's best interest that Brittany be granted sole custody of child, be named the primary residential custodian of child and John's visitation be suspended until he could prove himself to be a proper caregiver. She requested that John be required to undergo extensive parental training.

         In October 2014, an agreed order on visitation was entered granting John one day of visitation every other weekend for eight hours, to be supervised by John's mother.

         In May 2015, the domestic relations commissioner (DRC) recommended that Brittany and John be awarded joint custody with Brittany being named as primary residential custodian and John having timesharing according to the model timesharing guidelines for the 40th Judicial Circuit (model guidelines), with child support to continue as ordered in the paternity action.

         Brittany filed exceptions to the DRC's report and recommendation, arguing John should not be granted joint custody because he had "exhibited extreme behavior that makes it impossible for the parties to work together in the best interests of child" resulting in "numerous hearings on mundane items" based on "the acrimonious relationship that is the result of [John's] bullying and intimidating tactics" and he should not be granted overnight visits of 48 hours given that he had not had overnight visits before. John urged adoption of the DRC's recommendations.

         In June 2015, an agreed order was entered for a temporary adoption of the DRC's recommendations with the caveat that "[a]ll [of] John's overnight visits are to take place in the home of [his] parents," and the case would be reviewed later to determine whether it should be made a permanent custody and timesharing order. In October 2015, an agreed order was entered modifying holiday timesharing.

         In February 2016, Brittany filed a motion for contempt, arguing John was harassing her by calling and texting requested changes to visitation, being late to return child, not showing up for an exchange, demanding the exchange of the child despite unsafe winter conditions and then coming to her home and blowing his horn and calling her. John denied most of the allegations, arguing he wished to spend time with child when Brittany was working and asserted there were no hazardous road conditions preventing visitation. The circuit court determined neither ...


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