OF JUDGMENT: 12/20/2016
SIMPSON COUNTY CHANCERY COURT TRIAL JUDGE: HON. DAVID
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: M. JUDITH BARNETT
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: JEFFREY BIRL RIMES SARAH LINDSEY OTT
This appeal arises from a custody dispute between Justin
Bryce Brown and Kristin Franklin Anslum. Brown appeals the
decision of the Simpson County Chancery Court awarding him
and Anslum joint physical and legal custody of their minor
child. After review of the record, we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Brown and Anslum both lived with K.B. from the time of her birth
until she was four months old; however, the two were never
married. They separated on August 15, 2013. The separation
spurred from an argument over free Saints football game
tickets Anslum received from her boss. Because of conflicting
stories, the actual events of that night are somewhat
Brown contends that he caught Anslum inviting another man to
the game with her because he told Anslum they could not
afford to attend. Anslum maintains that she was on the phone
with Brown's mother asking her to babysit their minor
child and Anslum's other child because Brown said he
would not keep them even if he stayed home. Anslum alleges
that Brown beat her up and hit her oldest daughter. However,
Brown and his parents contend that Anslum knocked her head
against the refrigerator and willfully fell to the floor.
Further, they maintain that Anslum did not have any visible
bruises after the alleged altercation.
After the separation, K.B. lived with Anslum from August 2013
to April 2014. In August 2013, Brown filed a complaint for
determination of paternity and sole custody, and Anslum filed
an answer and counter-claim, requesting sole custody of K.B.
In November 2013, a temporary order was entered awarding
Anslum temporary legal and physical custody subject to
Brown's supervised visitation at his parents' home.
However, in January 2014, Brown tested positive for
methamphetamine. As a result, his right to visitation of K.B.
was suspended. Subsequently, he took another drug test and
passed. Then, upon the recommendation of the Guardian Ad
Litem (GAL), the parties agreed to joint physical custody of
In both April 2014 and August 2014, Anslum was admitted to
Brentwood Hospital. The first incident was because of an
altercation between Anslum and her stepmother. Anslum alleged
that her stepmother tried to choke her, but law enforcement
reported seeing Anslum grabbing her own neck. The second
incident was due to what was described as an overdose on
Valium after a trip to Pensacola, Florida. It was alleged
that Anslum was very intoxicated and could not adequately
care for her children during the trip. However, Anslum
disputes these allegations.
Brown's mother, Marcia, had custody of K.B. from April
2014 to August 2014 due to Anslum having a nervous breakdown
and Brown failing his drug test. However, in July 2014, the
GAL recommended that Brown receive the right to full custody
of K.B., subject to Anslum's right to visitation every
In 2016, Anslum's doctor gave her a good report and
stated that Anslum was only on one medication at the
time. Anslum also reported that her mood,
maturity, and cognitive abilities had improved, and that her
doctor expressed that she had consistently attended her
appointments and had improved significantly.
In 2016, Brown was awarded temporary legal and physical
custody of the minor child subject to Anslum's visitation
rights. By this time, however, K.B. had already been living
with Brown since August 2014-except when Brown's mother
kept K.B. Anslum filed a petition for sole custody of K.B.
After a three-day trial, the chancellor awarded the parties
joint physical and legal custody with the parties alternating
their regular physical custody of K.B. Brown timely appeals.
In Carter v. Escovedo, 175 So.3d 583, 585 (¶7)
(Miss. Ct. App. 2015), this Court stated:
In child-custody decisions, the polestar consideration is the
best interest of the child. We cannot substitute our judgment
for the chancellor's. Instead, our standard of review is
quite narrow. We only reverse child-custody determinations if
the chancellor is manifestly wrong, clearly erred, or applied
the wrong legal standard. When chancellors properly apply and
consider the Albright  factors, there is no manifest
Whether parties have to expressly apply for joint
custody in order for the chancellor to award
Brown argues that the parties have to make an express
"application" asking for joint custody in order for
the chancellor to order joint custody. However, Brown does
not cite any authority in favor of his argument outside of
Mississippi Code Annotated section 93-5-24(2)-(3) (Rev.
2013). This code section states in part:
(2) Joint custody may be awarded where irreconcilable
differences is the ground for divorce, in the discretion of
the court, ...