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Jones v. Brown

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

January 6, 2015

MARGARET JONES
v.
DAVID BROWN

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 10/02/2013.

Page 920

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HINDS COUNTY CHANCERY COURT. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. DENISE OWENS. TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: CUSTODY AWARDED TO FATHER.

FOR APPELLANT: HARRY JONES ROSENTHAL.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: LEVOY BRYANT AGNEW IV, LEE B. AGNEW JR.

BEFORE LEE, C.J., ISHEE AND FAIR, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P.JJ., BARNES, ISHEE, ROBERTS, CARLTON AND MAXWELL, JJ., CONCUR. JAMES, J., CONCURS IN PART WITHOUT SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION.

OPINION

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - CUSTODY

Page 921

FAIR, J.

¶1. " Margaret Jones" and " David Brown" had a daughter, " Christina," out of wedlock.[1] After they broke up, David took Christina and sued for custody. Margaret's mother intervened, contending that neither natural parent was fit because of their histories of drug use. The chancery court found the natural-parent presumption intact and awarded custody to David. Margaret appeals. As the chancellor's findings are supported by substantial evidence, we affirm.

FACTS

¶2. Margaret and David began an " on again, off again" romantic relationship in 2008. Christina was born in November 2011. The extent of David's attention to the pregnancy was disputed. However, a few months after Christina was born, the parties moved into a house together in Jackson. They lived there until September 2012, when David took the child and left. Prior to trial, the Hinds County Chancery Court ordered temporary joint custody alternately on a weekly basis.

¶3. David admitted he had a history of substance abuse going back twenty years or more. He testified that he had successfully completed rehabilitation in 2010 and was no longer using drugs; but Margaret was still addicted to prescription medicines and crystal methamphetamine. Margaret denied ever abusing drugs, but during the course of the litigation, she did not fully cooperate with court-ordered drug testing and on one occasion tested positive for crystal methamphetamine. Margaret alleged that David was physically and mentally abusive and was still addicted to drugs. She claimed that David had been passing drug tests by using someone else's urine.

¶4. The chancellor did not find Margaret's allegations credible, and awarded custody to David based on his rehabilitation, steady employment, and superior living conditions.

¶5. Margaret's mother abandoned her claims of neglect or abuse when she testified at trial, and she has not appealed the denial of her petition.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

¶6. The standard of review in domestic-relations cases is limited. Arrington v. Arrington, 80 So.3d 160, 164 (¶ 11) (Miss.Ct.App. 2012) (citing In re Dissolution of Marriage of Wood, 35 So.3d 507, 512 (¶ 8) (Miss. 2010)). This Court will not reverse a chancellor's findings concerning modification of custody unless the chancellor was manifestly wrong or clearly erroneous, or applied an improper legal standard. In re E.C.P., 918 So.2d 809, ...


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