FROM THE BAXTER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 03DR-15-181]
HONORABLE JOHN R. PUTMAN, JUDGE
C. Allen, for appellant.
B. Lowrey, for appellee.
J. GLADWIN, JUDGE
Cordell appeals the Baxter County Circuit Court's order
changing custody of the parties' children to appellee
Joshua Cordell. The circuit court also found Joshua in
contempt for failing to pay Ashley $12, 500 in retirement
proceeds pursuant to the parties' property-settlement
agreement (PSA) and ordered that Joshua's child-support
arrearage and the retirement proceeds he owed be partially
offset from Ashley's new child-support obligation. On
appeal, Ashley contends that the circuit court erred by
changing custody and by failing to require Joshua to pay the
amounts he owed. We affirm.
and Joshua were divorced on June 18, 2015, and Ashley was
awarded custody of their three children, HC1 (born July 7,
2003), AC (born September 16, 2004), and HC2 (born July 25,
2007). Incorporated into the decree was the parties' PSA
providing that Joshua would pay $947 per month in child
support, and visitation would be agreed on by the parties.
Also, among other obligations, the PSA stated that Joshua had
cashed his Eaton retirement account in the amount of $25, 000
and that he would pay Ashley one-half in the amount of $12,
500 no later than 90 days from the date of filing, June 18,
October 4, 2016, Joshua filed a petition to modify custody
based on a change in circumstances. Joshua alleged that
Ashley and the children were moving to Bryant, Arkansas, with
Donnie Ramsey, Ashley's boyfriend. Ashley pled unclean
hands and laches and sought dismissal of Joshua's
temporary order filed March 2, 2017, reflects that a change
in circumstances had been demonstrated that temporarily
modified the visitation. The circuit court provided specific
instructions regarding visitation exchanges for the
parties' children through March 2017 and ordered a
paternity test be performed on HC3, a child born after the
parties' divorce decree was filed.
after entry of the temporary order, Ashley filed a motion for
contempt against Joshua alleging that he was $9042 in arrears
on child support, and she asked that Joshua be ordered to pay
the arrearage and remain current. She also alleged that
Joshua had not paid the $12, 500 owed to her for half of his
retirement account under the PSA. She asked that Joshua be
ordered to pay her the $12, 500 "immediately."
hearing held June 29, 2017, the parties' three children
testified, giving positive statements about both parents.
Each child described living in Bryant with their mom and
Donnie. HC2, age 9, said that he wanted to live with his dad.
He said that when he had been with his dad, he had a wreck on
the four-wheeler and had to have surgery on his arm because
his elbow had been shattered. He said that it was after
midnight when he had wrecked and that he had not been wearing
12, testified she did not like Bryant Middle School because
she was being bullied. She said her grades were good in both
Bryant and Mountain Home. She said she helped HC2 with his
homework, and when they were with their dad, he would help
with homework. She said that if she lived in a perfect world,
she would live in Mountain Home. She said that her mother and
Donnie sometimes argued, but not much. She said that she had
to skip school to babysit her baby sister, HC3, while living
in Bryant. AC said that she was involved in competitive
cheerleading and that her dad tried to go to all of her
performances. She said that she would rather live with her
dad, but she did not want to leave her mom. She said that she
had come home from her dad's house with lice on two
occasions. She said that she had been in competitive
cheerleading in Mountain Home too.
age 14, testified that she liked Bryant Middle School and
that she had not been bullied. She said that her sister helps
HC2 with his homework and that her mother and Donnie did not
argue much. She also said that she had to skip school to
babysit her baby sister, HC3. She said that she had to blow
into her maternal grandmother's, Pam O'Dea's,
Breathalyzer when she rode with her. She said that she
cheered in competitions and had been doing so for six years.
She said that she got lice two times while at her dad's
home and that she would choose to live with her mother.
testified that she works in human resources for SA
Pharmaceuticals and began working there October 3, 2016. She
said that she had moved to Bryant the last week of September
2016 and that she had decided to move because she got a
better job offer. She was dating Donnie at the time, and he
lived in Bryant. She said she was currently married to
Donnie, whom she met at a bar in Mountain Home, and that she
did not plan to have children with him.
said that Joshua had a hard time during the divorce, and that
caused him to get a DWI in January 2015 when he had overdosed
on prescription medication and tried to leave their house in
his truck. She said that Joshua had hit a tree, neighbors
called police, and Joshua had been arrested. She said that he
spent three days in ICU and was discharged to a psychiatric
hospital for a week rather than going to jail.
said that she had received the paternity test on HC3 and that
Joshua is not the child's father. She said that even
though the temporary order required that she have the
paternity test done as soon as possible, it had been hard for
her to make the time to do it because she worked full time.
She said HC3's father is Dan Owens and that she had a
relationship with him while she had been separated from
Joshua. She said that Joshua had always had known that he was
not HC3's father and that after their divorce in June
2015, she and Joshua tried to work things out, so he moved
back in October. She said Joshua had known she was pregnant
and that the child was not his. After she gave birth in
December, Joshua wanted HC3 to be "no different than the
other kids." She said that they finally split up in
said that she and Donnie never argued and that they only had
slight disagreements. She said that the children had a good
relationship with Donnie and that they felt comfortable with
him. She said that she would "absolutely describe him as
being active in their lives." She said that she had
moved to Bryant for a better-paying job and to provide a
better life for her children. She said that their grades had
significantly improved, especially HC2's, who is an A and
B student now. She said that the girls are in
"cheer" for which she pays $255 per month. She said
that each season costs $1000 per child for uniforms, shoes,
and accessories and that Joshua does not pay for that. She
said that the children are currently on ARKids insurance but
that her recent pay raise would disqualify them for that
program, and she would be putting them on her work insurance.
said that she was against the children riding four-wheelers
and dirt bikes without adult supervision and without helmets.
She described HC2's four-wheeler accident as happening at
2:30 a.m. and said that she was notified when they arrived at
the emergency room "roughly at 2:30 in the
morning." She said that she was not told about the
dirt-bike wreck that happened during spring break until she
picked up the children on Friday and saw scrapes all over
HC2. She said that he had not been wearing a helmet. She said
that she cannot communicate with Joshua about the
four-wheeler and dirt bike because he is argumentative.
said that cleanliness was an issue at Joshua's house
because the children had come home with lice "several
times." She said that they knew it is coming from
Joshua's house because they did not have it when they
went, and they had it when they returned. She said that she
wanted the children to continue to reside with her because
she took good care of them, she had a very good job, and the
children were used to living with her.
said that Joshua had been ordered to pay child support and
that he was behind $9, 877.99. He was supposed to pay $948
per month, and his garnishment began in September 2016. She
asked that he be ordered to pay her the ...