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Childress v. Hart

Court of Appeals of Kentucky

December 20, 2019

CHASITY CHILDRESS APPELLANT
v.
MICHAEL BRANDON HART APPELLEE

          APPEAL FROM HARDIN CIRCUIT COURT FAMILY DIVISION I HONORABLE PAMELA K. ADDINGTON, JUDGE ACTION NO. 14-CI-02031

          BRIEF FOR APPELLANT: Louis P. Winner Joseph R. Schwamb Louisville, KY

          BRIEF FOR APPELLEE: Caleb T. Bland Elizabethtown, KY

          BEFORE: CLAYTON, CHIEF JUDGE; DIXON AND GOODWINE, JUDGES.

          OPINION

          GOODWINE, JUDGE:

         Chasity Childress (Mother) appeals from a Hardin Circuit Court order granting Michael Hart's (Father) motion requesting Mother to: (1) re-enroll their minor child, KJH, into Creekside Elementary School; and (2) relocate the child to Hardin County, Kentucky. After reviewing the record, we vacate the order and remand to the family court for further findings of fact and separate conclusions of law consistent with this opinion.

         BACKGROUND

         The parties are the parents and joint custodians of KJH, age eight. The parties were never married, but both lived in Hardin County. In 2014, Mother filed a petition for custody, resulting in the parties entering an agreed order. Under that order, the parties were awarded joint custody, designating Mother as the primary residential parent and Father having visitation every other weekend, as well as every other Monday and Thursday.

         Four years later, Mother received an offer from her employer to move to Tennessee. Because of this, and under FCRPP[1] 7(2), she petitioned the family court for permission to move to Tennessee with KJH. After a hearing, the family court denied her request, finding the move was not in the child's best interest. Following the family court's order, Mother, instead, relocated to Jefferson County for work-approximately fifty miles away from Father.

         After the relocation, Mother enrolled KJH in a new school and various extracurricular activities in Jefferson County. The parties continued the agreed upon timesharing schedule, but Father admitted to missing some Monday time. However, because of the relocation, Father filed a motion requesting: (1) the child to be enrolled in Creekside Elementary School in Hardin County; (2) the child to reside in Hardin County; (3) to enforce the parenting schedule; and (4) to be awarded parenting time in accordance with the Hardin Family Court rules.

         The family court held another hearing and issued oral findings of fact and conclusions of law, determining the relocation was not in the child's best interest. Specifically, it found: "[B]ut what bothers me is that [K]H] has been removed from schoolmates . . . and uprooted from something she is accustomed to and that's why I ruled against [Mother] leaving the state. But it's also the fact [K]H] is leaving her little schoolmates; kids she's probably known for a while and it wasn't really necessary." (Video Record (VR) 4:11:10-30). After the oral findings, the family court entered an order that failed to articulate any findings or the best interest standard. Instead, it simply required KJH to be enrolled in Creekside Elementary-and if Mother did not comply, it would deem Father primary residential custodian.

         Mother filed a motion to alter, amend, or vacate, which the family court denied. This appeal followed.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         On appeal, we review the family court's findings of fact only to determine if they are clearly erroneous. CR[2] 52.01. A family court's findings "are not clearly erroneous if supported by substantial evidence, which is 'evidence of substance and relevant consequence having the fitness to induce conviction in the minds of reasonable men.'" Eagle Cliff Resort, LLC v. KHBBJB, LLC, 295 S.W.3d 850, ...


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