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McKinney v. McKinney

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

May 16, 2017

GINGER A. McKINNEY, NOW GINGER L. SUTPHIN, Plaintiff,
v.
JOSEPH A. McKINNEY, JR., Defendant.

          Heard in the Court of Appeals 8 February 2017.

          Appeal by Defendant from orders entered 25 September 2014 and 22 March 2016 by Judge Teresa H. Vincent in Guilford County District Court No. 02 CVD 8173.

          Wyatt Early Harris Wheeler, LLP, by A. Doyle Early, Jr., and Arlene M. Zipp, for the Plaintiff-Appellee.

          Wyrick Robbins Yates & Ponton LLP, by Tobias S. Hampson and K. Edward Greene, for the Defendant-Appellant.

          DILLON, Judge.

         Joseph A. McKinney, Jr., ("Father") appeals from two orders of the district court entered during the course of a dispute between Father and Ginger A. McKinney (Sutphin) ("Mother") regarding the custody of their adolescent son, Max.[1]Specifically, Father appeals (1) the district court's September 2015 order finding him in civil and criminal contempt (the "Contempt Order"), and (2) the district court's March 2016 order (the "Fee Award Order") denying his motion for relief from judgment or new trial and awarding attorney's fees to Mother.

         I. Background

         Mother and Father separated in 2002 when Max was two years old. For a period of time, the parties shared custody of Max. In 2009, when Max was ten years old, the parties entered into a consent order (the "2009 Custody Order") which awarded primary physical custody of Max to Mother and provided a specific schedule for Father's visitation.

         In early 2014, Max expressed a strong desire to move from Greensboro, where he resided with Mother, to live with Father in Wilmington. In May 2014, Father filed a motion to modify custody with the district court.

         In June 2014, before Father's motion to modify custody was heard, Max left Greensboro on his own and traveled to Wilmington to stay with Father. In July 2014, the parties entered into a consent order (the "2014 Consent Order") providing that Max would return to Greensboro.

         However, in August 2014, Max again traveled on his own to Wilmington, staying for approximately one month with Father and attending high school in Wilmington. Mother then filed the second show cause motion based on Father's failure to return Max to Greensboro.

          A hearing was held during the week of 8 September 2014 during which the district court orally rendered its decision, finding Father in criminal and civil contempt for failure to comply with the 2009 Custody Order and the 2014 Consent Order.

         On 13 September 2014, Max returned to live with Mother in Greensboro.

         On 25 September 2014, the district court entered a written order (the "Contempt Order"), reducing its prior oral decision finding Father in civil and criminal contempt to writing.

         In December 2014, the district court entered an order on Father's custody modification motion, awarding ...


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