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Drinkwitz v. Drinkwitz

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

May 27, 2015

MALIA DRINKWITZ, APPELLANT
v.
JERRY DRINKWITZ AND SUSAN DRINKWITZ, APPELLEES

Editorial Note:

This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the printed official reporter.

APPEAL FROM THE CRAWFORD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. NO. 17DR-10-373 (II). HONORABLE MICHAEL MEDLOCK, JUDGE.

Gean, Gean & Gean, by: Roy Gean III, for appellant.

Lisa-Marie Norris, for appellees.

BART F. VIRDEN, Judge. GRUBER and WHITEAKER, JJ., agree.

OPINION

BART F. VIRDEN, Judge

Appellant Malia Drinkwitz appeals from the Crawford County Circuit Court's order granting visitation with Malia's children, M.D.1 and M.D.2, to the paternal grandparents, appellees Jerry and Susan Drinkwitz. On appeal, Malia argues that the trial court erred in granting visitation because the Drinkwitzes failed to prove that visitation was in the children's best interest given that (1) they had not lost their relationship with the children, (2) they could show no harm that came from limiting their contact, and (3) they had demonstrated an unwillingness to cooperate with her concerning visitation. We agree in part with Malia's first point and therefore reverse and vacate the visitation order.

I. Factual Background

Malia and the children's father, Zachary Drinkwitz, divorced in December 2010, and Malia was awarded custody of the children. There was evidence that Zachary's drug abuse was a factor in the divorce. Zachary neither regularly exercised his visitation rights nor paid any child support; however, his parents, the Drinkwitzes, had frequent contact with the children.

In August 2013, the Drinkwitzes filed a motion for grandparent-visitation rights. They alleged that, although they had always maintained a close relationship with the children, Malia had begun keeping the children away from them. Malia denied this assertion. In April 2014, the trial court entered a temporary order establishing a visitation schedule. In the final order, the trial court granted visitation rights to the Drinkwitzes. From that order comes this appeal.

II. Hearing in June 2014

Susan testified that after Malia's divorce from her son, the children continued to attend family holiday events and birthday parties. Also, the Drinkwitzes continued to babysit as needed and to pick up the children from school. According to Susan, between August 2012 and July 2013, they probably saw the children at least once a month.

The evidence showed that some time after August 2012, the children were at the Drinkwitzes' home visiting, and Zachary was present. Despite Malia's specific request that Zachary not be left alone with the children, the Drinkwitzes permitted him to take the children on what they thought was a quick trip to Dollar General. Instead, Zachary took the children to the home of his girlfriend, who was said to have " major drug issues," and introduced them to their new half brother, whom they did not know about. Malia was upset when she discovered where they had gone. Susan, while denying any prior knowledge of Zachary's intentions, conceded that she used very ...


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