COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: RANKIN COUNTY CHANCERY COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 09/13/2012. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. DAN H. FAIRLY. TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: TERMINATED MOTHER'S PARENTAL RIGHTS.
FOR APPELLANT: SAMUEL D. JOINER JR.
FOR APPELLEE: J. EDWARD RAINER.
LEE, C.J. IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P.JJ., BARNES, ISHEE, ROBERTS, CARLTON, MAXWELL AND FAIR, JJ., CONCUR. JAMES, J., DISSENTS WITH SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION.
NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - DOMESTIC RELATIONS
[¶1] In this child-custody matter, we must determine whether the chancellor erred in terminating the mother's parental rights. Finding no error, we affirm.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
[¶2] Brandi and Jordan Mark Owens were married on December 14, 2002, and divorced on August 14, 2008. During the marriage, they had two children. Pursuant to their child-custody, child-support, and property-settlement agreement, Brandi and Jordan agreed to share joint legal and physical custody of the minor children. The parties also agreed no child support should be paid as long as they shared joint physical custody. From the beginning, neither of the parties complied with their visitation agreement. As a result, Brandi has had sporadic visitation with her children. Brandi blames this on Jordan's refusal to allow her to see the children, and Jordan blames this on Brandi's failure to attempt to exercise such visitation.
[¶3] On November 9, 2009, Jordan filed a petition in the Rankin County Chancery Court to modify the judgment of divorce, alleging a material change in circumstances. Jordan specifically alleged that Brandi had not exercised visitation with the children, had only seen the children approximately three times in the six months prior to filing the petition, and had habitually abused drugs. Ultimately, the chancellor appointed a guardian ad litem (GAL) to review the situation. On April 1, 2010, a temporary order was entered regarding a new visitation schedule for Brandi.
Upon recommendation by the GAL, the chancellor entered another temporary order on July 23, 2010, restricting Brandi's visitation.
[¶4] Following various motions and orders, an agreed judgment was entered in which Jordan was awarded physical custody of the children, and Brandi was ordered to pay $220 per month in child support to Jordan. Shortly after this agreed judgment was entered, Jordan filed a petition to terminate Brandi's parental rights or, in the alternative, to suspend Brandi's visitation. After a hearing on the matter, which Brandi failed to attend, the chancellor entered a preliminary judgment on February 13, 2012, terminating Brandi's parental rights. The chancellor ordered Brandi to seek treatment for ...