FROM THE GARLAND COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 26DR-08-927]
HONORABLE JOHN HOMER WRIGHT, JUDGE
J. Reynolds, for appellant.
Appellate Solutions, PLLC, d/b/a/ Riordan Law Firm, by:
Deborah Truby Riordan, for appellee.
KENNETH S. HIXSON, JUDGE.
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 Jason's 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 Jason's visitation. The
"Final Order" increased Jason's child support
to $201 biweekly and altered some of the conditions of the
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 Stacy's
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
Jason's family. Asserting that Stacy had neglected
C.R.'s physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, Jason
asserted that it was in the child's best interest for
Jason to be awarded primary custody. Jason subsequently filed
petitions for contempt based on Stacy's alleged
prevention of his visitation with C.R.
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
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 Plaintiff's reasons for relocation include the
substantial pay increase for her husband's 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 Defendant's [Jason's] visitation with
4. The Defendant failed to rebut the presumption in favor of