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Parker v. Skelton

Court of Appeals of Virginia

March 11, 2014

KASEY N. PARKER
v.
C. H. SKELTON, II, S/K/A CHARLIE H. SKELTON, II KASEY N. PARKER
v.
BRANDON JOHN RUTLEDGE

FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF CHARLOTTE COUNTY Joel C. Cunningham, Judge

(Michael J. Brickhill; David P. Mitchel, on briefs), for appellant.

(Robert E. Hawthorne; Eric A. Tinnell, Guardian ad litem for the minor child; Hawthorne & Hawthorne, P.C., on brief), for appellee C. H. Skelton, II, s/k/a Charlie H. Skelton, II.

(Marshall L. Ellett; Eric A. Tinnell, Guardian ad litem for the minor child, on brief), for appellee Brandon John Rutledge.

Present: Judges Alston, Decker and Senior Judge Coleman

MEMORANDUM OPINION [*]

PER CURIAM

Kasey N. Parker (mother) appeals the trial court's custody and visitation orders regarding K.R. and K.S.[1] Mother argues that the trial court erred by (1) "giving improper weight to violations of old court orders and an instance of 'unclean hands' in a pre-trial electronic mail exchange, such as to 'punish' a parent, rather than focus inquiry on the best interests of the children"; (2) admitting and considering evidence relating to "mold infestation and its alleged effects on the health of the children" and "overruling a motion to reopen the case to reconsider those issues"; (3) finding that the children missed medical appointments; and (4) permitting and following the guardian ad litem's (GAL) recommendation, which was "founded crucially upon a fact that was not established by any evidence in the record." Upon reviewing the records and briefs of the parties, we conclude that these appeals are without merit. Accordingly, we summarily affirm the decisions of the trial court. See Rule 5A:27.

BACKGROUND

Mother and Rutledge are the biological parents of K.R. On August 15, 2008, the Charlotte County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court (the JDR court) entered an order granting mother and Rutledge joint legal and physical custody of K.R. On April 14, 2011, Rutledge filed a motion to amend the order and sought primary physical custody of K.R. On July 2, 2011, mother filed a motion to amend the order and sought primary legal and physical custody of K.R. On October 4, 2011, the JDR court entered an order awarding the parents joint legal and physical custody of the child until she entered school. One week prior to the beginning of school in August 2012, the parties were to have joint legal custody and mother would have primary physical custody. Rutledge appealed the order.

Mother and Skelton are the biological parents of K.S. On August 23, 2012, Skelton filed petitions for custody and visitation of K.S. On September 5, 2012, mother filed petitions for custody and visitation of K.S. On September 11, 2012, the JDR court entered an order awarding joint legal custody to the parents and primary physical custody to mother. Skelton appealed the order.

The circuit court consolidated Rutledge's appeal and Skelton's appeal. The circuit court heard evidence and argument on August 5 and 6, 2013. Mother was pro se at the trial. Initially, mother lived in the same county as Rutledge and Skelton, and she had shared custody arrangements with Rutledge and Skelton. However, when mother moved to a different county, their shared custody arrangements became untenable. Rutledge and Skelton reside near each other, and the children could attend the same school if they lived with their respective fathers. The court heard testimony regarding mold in mother's house and the children's ensuing health issues. There was further testimony regarding the condition of Parker's home and the fact that the children missed several medical appointments.

At the conclusion of the trial, the court reviewed the Code § 20-124.3 factors and determined that it was in the children's best interests to award the parents joint legal custody. It awarded Rutledge primary physical custody of K.R., and it awarded Skelton primary physical custody of K.S. On August 29, 2013, the trial court entered a custody and visitation order relating to K.S. On September 4, 2013, the trial court entered a custody and visitation order relating to K.R. On September 18, 2013, mother, by counsel, filed post-trial motions. She asked the trial court to vacate or suspend the orders and to reconsider its ruling. On September 18, 2013, the parties appeared before the court, and the court denied the motions. On September 19, 2013, the trial court entered an order denying the motions. These appeals followed.

ANALYSIS

Assignment of error 1 – Best interests of the ...


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