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Calhoun v. Calhoun

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

April 19, 2017

NIKONA J. CALHOUN (FITZGERALD), APPELLANT
v.
JEREMY CALHOUN, APPELLEE

         APPEAL FROM THE DREW COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 22DR-13-93] HONORABLE KENNETH JOHNSON, JUDGE

          J. Slocum Pickell, for appellant.

          Mary Thomason, for appellee.

          BRANDON J. HARRISON, Judge

         This is a child-custody case where the sole argument on appeal is that the circuit court erred in divesting the "the primary custodial parent" of her educational decision-making authority. We affirm the circuit court's decision that the minor child should continue to attend the Monticello public schools.

         I.

         Nikona and Jeremy Calhoun divorced in 2013. The divorce decree provided:

The parties are awarded Joint Legal custody of the minor child, with the Plaintiff [Nikona] being awarded primary physical custody. That the child will remain in [Nikona's] custody every weekend beginning Sunday evenings at 4:30 p.m. until school lets out on Thursday evening. [C.C.] shall be in the Defendant's [Jeremy's] custody from Thursday evenings after school until [sic] 4:30 p.m. on Sundays.

Jeremy was ordered to pay Nikona $482 a month in child support.

         About six months later, in April 2014, Nikona filed a "petition for contempt citation, to modify visitation and child support, and for change of legal custody." She alleged that the visitation schedule allowed Jeremy to be the "fun parent" on the weekends, leaving her to do the "heavy lifting" of parenting during the week. Nikona asked the court to award her sole legal custody, consistent with her status as primary physical custodian because Jeremy had refused to cooperate with her on important parenting issues. Jeremy counterclaimed and asked the circuit court to award primary physical custody of C.C. to him and to terminate his child-support obligation.

         The court held a bench trial in November 2015 but did not enter a final written order until June 2016, which states in pertinent part:

8. CUSTODY. Considering the best interest and welfare of the minor child, the Court finds that the present custody schedule should remain as joint custody with the Plaintiff [Nikona] continuing to have primary physical custody. However, the joint custody arrangement shall be on a week to week basis with the minor child continuing to go to school in Monticello, Arkansas. The weekly swap will be on Mondays instead of Sundays to avoid any problems with baseball tournaments. This schedule would offer both parties the opportunity to do parenting during the school week and yet have quality or fun time on the weekends. . . . The parties will alternate or split holiday time. If they cannot agree, the Court will make that decision for them.
9. CHILD SUPPORT. Because of the equal time to be spent with their son, neither party will be required to pay child support in the future.

         Nikona appeals the June 2016 order; her sole argument is that the court erred in divesting her (in her words "the primary custodial parent") of her decision-making authority regarding C.C.'s education. ...


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