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McKnown v. Estes

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

March 7, 2017

KEVIN MCKEOWN APPELLANT
v.
ELIZABETH ALLISON ESTES APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 08/28/2015

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

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: KEVIN MCKEOWN (PRO SE)

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: T. SWAYZE ALFORD KAYLA FOWLER WARE

          BEFORE GRIFFIS, P.J., BARNES AND CARLTON, JJ.

          BARNES, J.

         ¶1. After New York courts awarded Elizabeth Allison Estes physical custody of her son and authorized their move from New York City to Oxford, Mississippi, the New York County Family Court entered an order awarding visitation to the child's father, Kevin McKeown, who remained in New York City. Among other things, the New York visitation order obligated Kevin to provide Allison with advance notice of his visitation, an itinerary, and the address where he would be staying with their son.

         ¶2. This appeal follows Allison's successful complaint for contempt and modification of the New York visitation order. The Lafayette County Chancery Court found Kevin in contempt for his failure to fulfill the notice, itinerary, and address-disclosure requirements of the New York visitation order. The chancellor further held that Kevin's visitation would be suspended until he disclosed his physical address. Additionally, the chancellor modified the visitation order so that Kevin would have to exercise his visitation in Mississippi if he did not fulfill the notice, itinerary, and address-disclosure conditions of his visitation.

         ¶3. Kevin appeals and claims that the chancellor should not have heard Allison's complaint because he had taken preliminary steps to appeal the New York County Family Court's decision that Mississippi was the proper forum for Allison's complaint. He also claims that the process server lied about personally serving him with process. Finally, Kevin argues that the chancellor did not consider the child's best interest. Finding no error, we affirm the chancellor's judgment.

         STATEMENT OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶4. In April 2012, a New York state court awarded Allison sole legal and physical custody of her son. After obtaining leave from the First Department of the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Allison and her son moved to Oxford, where her family lived. Kevin McK. v. Elizabeth A.E., 111 A.D.3d 124, 129 (N.Y.App.Div. 2013).

         ¶5. The New York County Family Court subsequently entered a visitation order. Along with visitation during certain holidays, Kevin received "eight uninterrupted weeks" of summer visitation. Kevin was obligated to provide Allison with notice regarding their son's travel arrangements. And if either parent traveled with the child, he or she was obligated to provide the other with an itinerary for the trip, including contact information and the location where the child would be staying. If Kevin did not have his own residence, he had to provide Allison with "an affidavit from the legal resident of the home where [the child] shall be staying indicating [the legal resident's] willingness and availability" to have Kevin and his son as guests.

         ¶6. In November 2014, Allison filed a complaint in chancery court. She claimed that Kevin was in contempt of the New York visitation order because he would not give her an itinerary for his visitation or an affidavit from the resident where he and the child would be staying during visitation. Allison also requested modification of the visitation order so that Kevin would be required to inform her of his physical address by giving her "a copy of his valid driver[']s license . . . prior to exercising any visitation."

         ¶7. At least five summonses were issued for Kevin between November 14, 2014, and December 29, 2014. All of them indicated that his mailing address was a post-office box in New York City. The record contains a process server's return reflecting that Kevin ...


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