COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: LINCOLN COUNTY CHANCERY COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 08/27/2012. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. EDWARD E. PATTEN JR. TRIAL COURT JUDGMENT OF DIVORCE MODIFIED TO REFLECT THAT APPELLEE IS GRANTED PHYSICAL CUSTODY OF THE MINOR CHILDREN.
FOR APPELLANT: JOSEPH A. FERNALD JR.
FOR APPELLEE: JASON TODD BARRETT.
BEFORE IRVING, P.J., BARNES AND FAIR, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P.JJ., BARNES, ISHEE, ROBERTS, CARLTON, MAXWELL AND JAMES, JJ., CONCUR.
NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - CUSTODY
¶1. This appeal arises from a chancellor's grant of a petition to modify custody. On August 27, 2012, the chancellor modified the judgment of divorce between James Hall and Dana Hall to reflect that James would be granted custody of their two minor children. Aggrieved, Dana raises the following issues on appeal: (1) James failed to present sufficient evidence to sustain the " material-change-of-circumstances" test as provided in McDonald v. McDonald, 39 So.3d 868 (Miss. 2010), and (2) the chancellor erred in his analysis by placing " undue weight" on Dana's moral fitness. Finding that the chancery court committed no manifest error, we affirm.
¶2. James and Dana Hall married on November 7, 1998, in Lincoln County. During their marriage, they had two children - John, born in 2000, and Sarah, born in 2004. They divorced on March 23, 2006, citing irreconcilable differences. As part of the divorce and property settlement, they agreed to share joint legal custody of the children, with Dana having primary physical custody subject to reasonable visitation for James. James also was required to pay child support each month and maintain a major medical health and hospitalization insurance policy on both children.
¶3. On May 14, 2010, James filed a petition for modification in Lincoln County Chancery Court, claiming that one or more substantial changes had occurred since the entry of the prior judgments. On March 18, 2011, an agreed temporary order was entered, granting both parties unrestricted access to the educational and medical records of both children. Thereafter, the parties entered an agreed order setting a trial date for August 8, 2012, for the petition.
¶4. In his petition, James listed eight material changes that, he claimed, adversely affected the children: poor dental care rising to the level of neglect, improper care related to a dog bite received by John, Dana's cohabitation with a romantic partner, Dana's abuse of alcohol, educational neglect, the children's tattered clothes and poor ...