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Glisson v. Glisson

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division III

January 24, 2018



          Worsham Law Firm, P.A., by: Richard E. Worsham, for appellant.

          T. Clay Janske, for appellee.

          BART F. VIRDEN, JUDGE.

         Kellie Glisson appeals from the Garland County Circuit Court's order awarding joint custody to both parties, with primary custody to Kellie and visitation to Steven. She argues that the circuit court erred in classifying the custody awarded as joint custody and asks this court to clarify the decree by awarding her primary custody with visitation to Steven.[1] Alternatively, Kellie argues that if this court affirms the circuit court's award of joint custody, then the circuit court erred because the evidence does not show that joint custody is in the best interest of the children. Kellie also challenges the circuit court's award of child support. We affirm the circuit court's finding of joint custody, and we reverse and remand to the circuit court the issue of child support.

         I. Factual History

         On December 16, 2015, Kellie Glisson filed an amended complaint for divorce in the Garland County Circuit Court after sixteen years of marriage to Steven Glisson. The Glissons have two minor children, a daughter, H.G. (born 09/27/04), and a son, H.A.G. (born 03/31/07). In her complaint, Kellie asserted that the circuit court should award her primary custody of the children. Steven responded and requested joint custody. The parties submitted an agreed order on most of the issues relating to the divorce; however, custody and spousal support were to be settled by the circuit court.

         At the hearing on the remaining matters, the court heard conflicting testimony from the witnesses regarding the parental fitness of the parties. Bruce Dodson, the Glisson's marriage counselor since the "early 2000s, " offered the following testimony at the hearing. In approximately sixteen years of counseling, Kellie had never stated that Steven was a bad father or complained that he was violent. At times during counseling, Steven had become angry and frustrated and had abruptly left the session. Steven had used inappropriate, harsh language during some sessions, and during the summer the year before, marital counseling had become unproductive. Steven continued counseling on his own after the parties separated, and Dodson had not witnessed any angry outbursts from Steven in six months. During their counseling sessions and specifically around the time he confronted Kellie about her possible infidelity, Steven had reported having suicidal thoughts, but he had assured Dodson that he would not harm himself. Dodson considered Steven to be a good father and businessman, and he believed that Steven was not a danger to anyone.

         Both Kellie and Steven testified extensively about some of the same incidents that occurred during their marriage. Kellie testified that their son, H.A.G., has sensory-processing disorder (SPD), and she described the difficulties H.A.G. experiences due to his SPD, such as feeling overwhelmed, being unable to focus, experiencing confusion, and having difficulty transitioning from one environment to another. Kellie explained that she had learned techniques to deal with H.A.G.'s sensory-processing issues, that H.A.G. is in occupational therapy for SPD, and that therapy had been very helpful. Kellie testified that Steven had not read the articles on SPD that she had given him and that Steven had dismissed H.A.G.'s SPD as out-of-control behavior. Kellie described an incident at a wedding in which H.A.G. became "loud and agitated" when Kellie, Steven, and H.A.G. were trying to enter the reception hall. She asserted that Steven forced H.A.G. to go inside and sit down and that H.A.G. had hidden under the table for a few minutes, which had angered Steven. Kellie convinced Steven to let H.A.G. sit under the table for a few minutes, and that after that H.A.G. was able to rejoin the reception.

         Steven described the incident with H.A.G. at the wedding reception differently. He explained that H.A.G. climbed under the table and "Kellie just sat there and you know, thought that she should let H.A.G. act out and cause a scene." Steven testified that he and H.A.G. went outside and walked around for a while, got some food and, then came back in. Steven denied Kellie's assertion that he had been angry about the situation. Steven explained that he knew H.A.G. had been diagnosed with SPD and that he had to have patience with his son.

         Kellie described H.G.'s allergy to corn and explained that it was important to avoid exposing H.G. to the allergen. She testified that she and Steven both prepared lunches for H.G., and she did not describe any negative incidents relating to Steven's handling of H.G.'s corn allergy.

         Kellie testified that during their marriage she had handled most of the children's day-to-day activities. She opined that Steven did better with the kids on holidays and during the summer when there was no schedule to observe. Kellie asserted that Steven did not attend H.G.'s basketball games or school events and that Steven was a "fun dad, but there are boundaries and limitations to what he can provide as far as the emotional, physical and development state of our children."

         By contrast, Steven testified that throughout their marriage he had routinely made breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the kids and Kellie, and that he, along with Kellie, had been responsible for the dishes and laundry. Steven testified that he helps the children with their homework and that he takes H.G. to basketball practice and attends her games. According to Steven, since the separation, Kellie had been "too wrapped up in herself" and that until recently Kellie had been out of town every weekend and had often relied on him for childcare while she traveled.

         Kellie described several instances in which Steven had threatened suicide. Kellie recounted that during an argument, Steven had threatened to kill himself and had held a gun to his chin, and Kellie attributed Steven's behavior in part to his going off of his anxiety medication. Kellie also recalled that Steven had gotten upset ...

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