FROM THE GARLAND COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 26DR-08-927],
HONORABLE JOHN HOMER WRIGHT, JUDGE
J. Reynolds, for appellant.
Solutions, PLLC, d/b/a/ Riordan Law Firm, by: Deborah Truby
Riordan, Little Rock, for appellee.
S. HIXSON, Judge
is a child-custody case. Appellant Jason Reynolds and
appellee Stacy Reynolds (now Thomas) were married in March
2006 and divorced in September 2009. One son, C.R., was born
of the marriage in July 2007. At the time of the divorce, the
parties entered into an agreement, which was incorporated
into the divorce decree, whereby the parties agreed that
Stacy would be the "primary residential custodian"
of C.R. subject to Jasons visitation. The divorce decree
ordered Jason to pay $ 72 in weekly child support. Both
parties remarried in 2010, and both remained in Hot Springs,
where they had lived during
their marriage. In July 2012, the parties entered into a
"Final Order," approved by the trial court, whereby
Stacy remained the primary residential custodian subject to
Jasons visitation. The "Final Order" increased
Jasons child support to $ 201 biweekly and altered some of
the conditions of the prior agreement.
February 24, 2016, Stacy filed a petition to relocate, to
increase child support, and for contempt. In her petition,
Stacy stated that her husband, Andy Thomas, was in law
enforcement and had procured employment in McKinney, Texas,
earning forty-eight percent more than he was currently
making. Stacy requested that she be allowed to relocate with
the child to Texas, where C.R. would have a better quality of
life. Stacy also asked that child support be increased and
that Jason be held in contempt for refusing to pay his share
of medical expenses or extraordinary expenses.
March 16, 2016, Jason filed a response to Stacys petition,
asking that all of her requested relief be denied. Jason also
filed a petition for a temporary and permanent change in
custody. In his custody petition, Jason alleged that there
had been a material change in circumstances because Stacy had
repeatedly withheld visitation, willfully created conflict in
an attempt to disrupt the parties custody arrangement, and
alienated C.R. from Jason and Jasons family. Asserting that
Stacy had neglected C.R.s physical, mental, and spiritual
well-being, Jason asserted that it was in the childs best
interest for Jason to be awarded primary custody. Jason
subsequently filed petitions for contempt based on Stacys
alleged prevention of his visitation with C.R.
Stacys spouse began working in McKinney, Texas, in March
2016. However, Stacy and C.R. did not move to Texas until
June 2016 after the end of the school year. Jason exercised
his regular visitation with C.R. through June 2016 and then
exercised his regular summer visitation. C.R. began third
grade in Texas in August 2016.
temporary hearing was held on September 6, 2016. On October
6, 2016, the trial court entered an order finding that there
was insufficient time to conclude the temporary hearing, and
that the parties had agreed to keep the record open and
continue the proceedings at a final hearing to resolve all
pending issues. Pending the final hearing, the trial court
ordered that Stacy retain custody and that C.R. continue
attending school in Texas. The final hearing was held on
January 19− 20, 2017.
March 20, 2017, the trial court entered an "Order after
Hearing," making these specific findings:
1. The Plaintiff [Stacy] is the primary custodian and there
is not joint custody.
2. The Plaintiffs reasons for relocation include the
substantial pay increase for her husbands employment and her
assessment that educational opportunities were as good, if
not better, at their projected school district in Texas as
existed in Hot Springs.
3. The proposed relocation was not motivated by an intent to
restrict the Defendants [Jasons] ...