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Sullivan v. Sullivan

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

March 24, 2015

MICHAEL SULLIVAN APPELLANT
v.
SHINOBU TANAKA SULLIVAN APPELLEE

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 11/20/2013

LAFAYETTE COUNTY CHANCERY COURT HON. ROBERT Q. WHITWELL TRIAL JUDGE

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: TIFFANY ALAYNE YATES JULIA GIVENS WILLIAMS

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: WALTER ALAN DAVIS

BEFORE GRIFFIS, P.J., FAIR AND JAMES, JJ.

FAIR, J.

¶1. Michael Sullivan appeals the decision of the Lafayette County Chancery Court awarding Shinobu Sullivan physical custody of their son. Specifically, Michael asserts the following: (1) the chancellor erred in his consideration and application of the Albright[1]factors, and (2) the chancellor's custody determination was against the weight of the evidence. Finding no error, we affirm.

FACTS

¶2. Michael and Shinobu were married on April 15, 2003, in Tokyo, Japan. They have one child, Aiden, who was born on December 10, 2004. In Japan, Michael worked in technology and bank regulatory compliance. Shinobu stayed at home with Aiden as the primary caregiver; she prepared his meals, bathed him, and changed his diapers. Michael often worked late into the night and went out for drinks afterwards. Michael also took prescribed medication to cope with insomnia and depression.

¶3. Michael lost his job in 2009. As a result, he borrowed more than $118, 000 from his mother for living expenses. Michael returned to the United States in November 2010, and moved to Oxford, Mississippi, to live with his mother. His new psychiatrist in Memphis, Tennessee, managed his medications. Shinobu and Aiden arrived to the United States in March 2011 and moved in with Michael and his mother.

¶4. Nine months later, Michael filed for divorce and requested full custody of Aiden. Both Michael and Shinobu requested temporary relief. On April 11, 2012, the court issued a temporary agreed order, which required Michael and Shinobu to share joint legal and physical custody. Pursuant to Mississippi Code Annotated section 93-5-23 (Rev. 2007), the court appointed a guardian ad litem (GAL) to investigate allegations of abuse.[2] Two weeks later, the court modified the temporary order based on the GAL's recommendation. Shinobu was awarded temporary physical custody, while Michael had visitation every other weekend.

¶5. In the midst of the proceedings, Michael took Aiden to counselor Dr. Gillian Love. Dr. Love counseled Aiden on his adjustment to the United States and the pending divorce. On May 31, 2012, the court entered an agreed order, providing a 2012 summer custody visitation schedule. The court also ordered Aiden to continue seeing Dr. Love at least once a week. Five weeks later, the court ordered that Dr. Love remain Aiden's counselor and communicate openly with the GAL. The court specified that Dr. Love would not testify at any future hearing.

¶6. At the time Michael filed for divorce, Shinobu was unemployed and knew few people. She moved out of Michael's mother's home and worked various jobs, from Japanese teacher to hotel housekeeper. Eventually, Shinobu's new income allowed her to procure her own apartment and provide for Aiden. She and Aiden attended church with their neighbors.

ΒΆ7. Both Michael and Shinobu testified at the divorce hearing. Michael testified that Shinobu had a tendency to get angry. He said she hit him a couple of times and hit Aiden. Shinobu admitted hitting Aiden once in the head ...


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