C.W.H. v. L.A.S.

C.W.H. v. L.A.S.
E2015-01498-SC-R11-JV

This is a custody case involving the minor children of unmarried parties. C.W.H. (hereinafter “Father”) and L.A.S. (hereinafter “Mother”) agreed to a modification of an existing parenting plan in 2013. Subsequently, Father learned information to which he was not privy during the settlement conference, namely, that Mother had relocated from her state of residence (Ohio) to Nevada with the parties’ minor children, where she was employed as a prostitute. Father filed a motion for an emergency temporary custody order and a temporary restraining order. Father prevailed in a hearing before the juvenile court magistrate and was designated as the primary residential parent. Mother requested a hearing before the juvenile court. Following a hearing, the juvenile court found a material change in circumstances and upheld the magistrate’s determination. Mother appealed to the Court of Appeals, which vacated and remanded the case for the juvenile court to conduct a best interest analysis. On remand, the juvenile court affirmed its earlier findings regarding a material change in circumstances and, in addition, concluded that changing the primary residential parent from Mother to Father was in the best interest of the children. Mother again appealed to the Court of Appeals, which concluded “that the evidence preponderate[d], in part but significantly, against the juvenile court’s factual findings,” reversed the juvenile court, and mandated that its order be carried out within twenty days. We granted Father’s application for permission to appeal pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 11 to decide, as set forth in Father’s application, whether “the Court of Appeals err[ed] in reversing the [juvenile court] and awarding Mother custody of the minor children” and whether “the Court of Appeals err[ed] in ordering the change in custody prior to an opportunity for the Father to appeal to this Court?” We answer both questions in the affirmative, reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals, and remand this matter to the juvenile court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. 

Authoring Judge: 
Justice Roger A. Page
Originating Judge: 
Judge Robert D. Philyaw
Date Filed: 
Tuesday, December 19, 2017