JONAS W. STARR, APPELLANT
LISA K. STARR, APPELLEE
APPEAL FROM THE WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. No. DR 2013-1820-6. HONORABLE MARK LINDSAY, JUDGE.
Penix & Taylor, PLLC, by: Stephen Taylor, for appellant.
Campbell & Cuzick, PLLC, by: Greg R. Cuzick, for appellee.
LARRY D. VAUGHT, Judge. HARRISON and WHITEAKER, JJ., agree.
LARRY D. VAUGHT, Judge
Appellant Jonas Starr appeals from the divorce decree entered by the Circuit Court of Washington County, awarding appellee Lisa Starr custody of the parties' minor child, S.S. Jonas argues that the trial court clearly erred in finding that it was in S.S.'s best interest to be placed in Lisa's custody. He also argues that the trial court clearly erred in separating S.S. from her three half-sisters. We affirm.
Jonas and Lisa were married September 22, 2010. Prior to their marriage, their daughter, S.S., was born. Jonas also had custody of his three daughters (B.S., age fourteen; C.S., age thirteen; and T.S., age twelve) from a previous marriage. Jonas and Lisa separated in August 2013, at which time Lisa and S.S. moved out of the marital home. On September 19, 2013, Jonas filed a complaint for divorce based on general indignities and requested custody of S.S. Lisa filed an answer and counterclaim for divorce based on general indignities and requested custody of S.S.
At trial, Jonas testified that he had been employed with Superior Industries for fourteen and a half years. He testified that he filed for divorce because Lisa regularly drank alcohol to the point of intoxication, which resulted in verbal and physical abuse toward the children. He said that she often had accidents and falls when she was intoxicated. He testified that since their separation, the atmosphere in his home had improved. He said that it was calm, structured, and clean. He said that his four daughters got along very well and treated each other as full siblings. He denied physically abusing Lisa.
Jonas further testified that he divorced Laura May Ellen Presley, the mother of B.S., C.S., and T.S., in 2003. He said that B.S., C.S., and T.S. did not see their mother for a few years after the divorce. He stated that when Laura was not paying child support, he did not encourage or
discourage the relationship between his older daughters and their mother.
Kris Pennington, one of Jonas's best friends, testified that Lisa's heavy drinking was a big problem. He said that when she drank, she was verbally abusive to the children. He added that the four girls were " a real tight group" and that Jonas was more nurturing to the children than Lisa. Robert Johnson, Jonas's friend for more than fourteen years, testified that Jonas got along very well with all four girls and that the older girls got along well with S.S. Robert added that he saw Lisa drinking alcohol daily, often to intoxication, and that she yelled at the girls when she was drinking.
T.S. testified that her father was her primary caregiver. She said that she shared a room with S.S., that she and S.S. spent a lot of time together, and that she considered her relationship with S.S. no different than her relationship with her other sisters. T.S. testified that Lisa drank " a lot, like everyday" and that when she drank too much, she was mean, cranky, and yelled at the girls. T.S. also said that Lisa slapped her. However, she added that she called Lisa, " ...