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Dunnam v. Dunnam

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

August 28, 2018

HEATHER MARIE DUNNAM APPELLANT
v.
SHAUN DUNNAM APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/31/2017

          JACKSON COUNTY CHANCERY COURT HON. MICHAEL L. FONDREN TRIAL JUDGE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: RITA MARION SILIN

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: SHAUN DUNNAM (PRO SE)

          BEFORE LEE, C.J., BARNES AND WESTBROOKS, JJ.

          WESTBROOKS, J.

         ¶1. Heather Marie Dunnam appeals the judgment of the Chancery Court of Jackson County awarding physical custody of her two minor children to her ex-husband and joint legal custody to both parties, subject to her visitation rights. After review of the record, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. Heather and Shaun Dunnam married in 2007 and had two children, P.D. and M.D.[1] Heather filed a complaint requesting a divorce, property division, and the sole care and custody of P.D. and M.D. in December 2015. Following a temporary custody hearing, the chancellor awarded Heather and Shaun joint legal and physical custody, subject to Shaun's visitation rights. The chancellor also directed both parties to undergo drug tests. Heather tested positive for cocaine, and Shaun tested positive for marijuana. During this hearing, Shaun's lawyer withdrew as Shaun's trial counsel, and the matter was rescheduled.

         ¶3. In July 2016, Heather filed a petition for citation of contempt and modification, alleging that Shaun violated the temporary order the court previously entered. She alleged that Shaun harassed her, caused her to lose her job, and refused to return the children after Shaun and Heather's brief period of reconciliation. In August 2016, the chancellor replaced the previous temporary order and entered another order granting both parties joint legal and physical custody of the children, subject to Heather's visitation rights. At that time, the court ordered that the parties undergo additional drug tests, and both parties tested negative for drugs. The chancellor also enjoined both parties from communicating, unless communication was necessary because of a medical emergency or to exchange the children.

         ¶4. In November 2016, Shaun filed his answer and counterclaim to Heather's original complaint for divorce, and Shaun and Heather consented to a divorce due to irreconcilable differences. The chancellor was left to decide the following issues: custody of P.D. and M.D., visitation, child support, tax deductions, division of assets and liabilities, Heather's petition for contempt and modification, and attorney's fees.

         ¶5. Following a one-day trial, the chancellor ordered Shaun and Heather to submit proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law. In March 2017, the chancellor awarded joint legal custody to both parties and physical custody to Shaun, subject to Heather's visitation rights. The chancellor issued findings of fact regarding all of the other issues the parties presented before the court. Heather timely appeals the chancellor's ruling regarding the custody of P.D. and M.D.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶6. In Webb v. Webb, 78 So.3d 933, 935-36 (ΒΆ7) (Miss. Ct. ...


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