Before McMILLIN, P.j., Herring, Hinkebein, And Southwick, JJ.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Southwick, J
SHERRY M. JACKSON, APPELLANT v. CODY W. BRIDWELL, APPELLEE
THIS OPINION IS NOT DESIGNATED FOR PUBLICATION AND MAY NOT BE CITED, PURSUANT TO M.R.A.P. 35-B
DATE OF JUDGMENT: 07/01/96
TRIAL JUDGE: HON. DONALD B. PATTERSON
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: COPIAH COUNTY CHANCERY COURT
NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - CUSTODY
TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: PETITION FOR MODIFICATION OF CUSTODY DENIED; ATTORNEY'S FEES AWARDED TO APPELLEE
DISPOSITION AFFIRMED IN PART & REVERSED IN PART - 03/24/98
Sherry Jackson appeals the judgment of the Copiah County Chancery Court that denied her petition for modification of custody of their minor child, awarded attorney's fees to the child's father, Cody Bridwell, and refused to appoint an independent expert to evaluate the child. Jackson does not allege error as to the modification. We affirm the chancellor's refusal to appoint an independent expert, but reverse and render the award of attorney's fees and expenses.
Sherry Jackson and Cody Bridwell were divorced on August 30, 1991. They were granted joint legal custody of their only child, Jessica, who was born in 1988. The father, Bridwell, was granted physical custody, subject to visitation rights granted to the mother, Jackson. Jackson's visitation rights consisted of every other weekend, various holidays and extensive time during summer vacation. On July 28, 1994, Jackson filed a petition for modification, seeking a change in the custody of the minor child or, in the alternative, alteration of her visitation rights. The impending move of Bridwell to Texarkana, Arkansas apparently precipitated the filing of the modification action.
The matter was tried on September 25 and 26, 1995. The chancellor entered judgment on May 24, 1996. The court found that Jackson had failed to meet her burden of proof that a material change in circumstances adversely affecting the best interest of the child had occurred. The court denied Jackson's request for appointment of an independent expert. Visitation was modified by reducing weekend visitation to once per month and increasing summer visitation to sixty consecutive days. The court ...