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Borden v. Borden

Supreme Court of Mississippi, En Banc

October 9, 2014

MARY JANE BORDEN
v.
EDWARD SHANNON BORDEN

Page 239

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: LEE COUNTY CHANCERY COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 06/08/2012. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. TALMADGE D. LITTLEJOHN.

FOR APPELLANT: J. MARK SHELTON, JANA L. DAWSON.

FOR APPELLEE: DAVID O. BUTTS, JR.

WALLER, CHIEF JUSTICE. DICKINSON AND RANDOLPH, P.JJ., LAMAR, KITCHENS, CHANDLER, PIERCE, KING AND COLEMAN, JJ., CONCUR.

OPINION

Page 240

NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY

WALLER, CHIEF JUSTICE:

[¶1] In a divorce and child-custody dispute between Shannon and Mary Jane Borden, the chancellor awarded custody of their two sons to Shannon, the father. The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment. Finding that the chancellor gave undue weight to Mary Jane's misconduct under three separate Albright factors, and that the chancellor erred in rejecting the guardian ad litem's recommendation without providing reasons and a summary of the guardian's report, we reverse the judgments of Court of Appeals and the chancery court and remand for further proceedings.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

[¶2] The facts and procedural history have been taken from the Court of Appeals opinion. Borden v. Borden, 130 So.3d 1168 (Miss. Ct.App. 2014).

Shannon and Mary Jane were married in Memphis, Tennessee, on September 10, 2000. During the marriage, the couple had two children, Elijah (Eli), born December 5, 2002, and William, born November 20, 2006. Shannon worked in a management position for Penske Trucking Company. Mary Jane worked full-time as a nurse at St. Joseph's Hospital. In 2005, the couple moved to Tupelo, Mississippi, due to Shannon's job transfer. Mary Jane continued to work as a nurse in Memphis, but she only worked sixteen days per year. When she worked in Memphis, she stayed there overnight.
After the move to Tupelo, Mary Jane and Shannon began to experience problems in their marriage. The couple separated on August 16, 2010. Mary Jane picked up the oldest child from school and took both children with her to her parents' home in Tennessee. Mary Jane did not tell Shannon she was leaving. Mary Jane also took her computer with her. Two days later, Shannon filed a complaint for divorce on the grounds of habitual cruel and inhuman treatment and irreconcilable differences. On August 20, 2010, Mary Jane filed her answer and counter-complaint for divorce on the same grounds.
On August 30, 2010, Mary Jane filed a motion to appoint a guardian ad litem and for a forensic examination of the children. According to Mary Jane, Eli and William exhibited behavior that led Mary Jane to believe they had been sexually abused. Although Mary Jane never alleged that anyone in particular had abused the children, she states in her brief that her suspicion of sexual abuse " arose from (1) alarming statements made by the children, and (2) bizarre responses given by Shannon." The chancellor appointed Jonathan Martin as guardian ad litem to investigate the allegations and represent the interests of the children. The guardian ad litem interviewed Shannon, Mary Jane, their two children, and several other individuals. The guardian ad litem also had polygraph examinations administered to both Mary Jane and Shannon. The results of the polygraph examinations showed that both parties were being truthful. ...

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