Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Ellington v. Ellington

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

September 18, 2019

MIA ELLINGTON APPELLANT
v.
BERNARD ELLINGTON APPELLEE

          APPEAL FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SIXTH DIVISION NO. 60DR-13-2464] HONORABLE TIMOTHY DAVIS FOX, JUDGE

          Aimie Lockwood, for appellant.

          Taylor & Taylor Law Firm, P.A., by: Andrew M. Taylor and Tasha C. Taylor, for appellee.

          MIKE MURPHY, JUDGE

         Mia Ellington appeals the decision of the Pulaski County Circuit Court giving her ex-husband, Bernard Ellington, primary custody of the parties' two children. On appeal, Mia argues that there was no material change in circumstances to warrant a change of custody, a change of custody is not in the children's best interest, and it was inappropriate to be ordered to pay child support when the children are in her care a majority of the time. We agree and reverse.

         Mia and Bernard were married in 2007 and divorced in 2014. There were two children born of the marriage. At the time of the divorce, a decree was entered awarding the parties joint legal custody, with Mia having sole physical custody subject to Bernard's visitation. That decree further provided that the children would reside with Mia the majority of the time and that Mia would be responsible for "managing the day-to-day business regarding the children's schedule, activities, and healthcare."

         On March 8, 2017, Bernard filed a motion for sole physical and legal custody, or in the alternative, for joint physical custody. Mia responded and then filed a motion for contempt and change in the visitation schedule. The court entered a temporary agreed order, and a hearing was held on the competing motions on February 7, 2018. At the conclusion of the hearing, the court changed sole physical custody and decision-making authority from Mia to Bernard and ordered Mia to pay child support. Despite this change, the visitation schedule remained the same, with Mia having the children more than Bernard.

         The order listed the following in support of its finding a material change of circumstances:

a. [Mia], as the custodial parent, repeatedly exercised poor judgment in establishing the living arrangements for the minor children;
b. [Mia] failed to provide for the appropriate degree of hygiene and cleanliness that was available to the minor children given the parties social economic circumstances;
c. [Mia] failed to be proactive in communicating with the noncustodial parent; and
d.[Mia] repeatedly failed to provide appropriate adult supervision to ensure the safety and well-being of the minor children.

         The order further provided that "[t]he children will maintain the same visitation schedule with the parties, but [Bernard] will be responsible for managing the day-to-day business regarding the children's schedules, activities, and healthcare." Mia was ordered "to pay the chart amount of support according to the Arkansas Family Support Chart for each child," and an order setting out what that actual amount is was entered three days later. Mia now appeals. For purposes of discussion, Mia's arguments can best be organized into three sections: (1) there was no material change; (2) a change in custody is not in the best interest of the children; and (3) an award of child support was clear error. Because we agree with Mia that there was not a material change in circumstances, we need not address the other two issues.

         Arkansas law is well settled that the primary consideration in child-custody cases is the welfare and best interest of the children; all other considerations are secondary. Schreckhise v. Parry, 2019 Ark.App. 48, at 5–6, 568 S.W.3d 782, 786. Generally, courts impose more stringent standards for modifications of custody than they do for initial determinations of custody. Id. The reason for requiring more stringent standards for modifications than for initial custody ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.