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Hinson v. Hinson

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

November 5, 2019

CHANDA Y. HINSON, Plaintiff,

          Appeal by plaintiff from order entered 14 February 2019 by Judge T. Thai Vang in Stanly County No. 18 CVD 113 District Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 15 October 2019.

          Adkins Law, PLLC, by C. Christopher Adkins, Sarah E. Bennett, and Kelsey J. Queen, for plaintiff-appellant.

          Parker Bryan Family Law, by Gene Brentley Tanner and Kaitlin S. Kober, for defendant-appellee.

          TYSON, Judge.

         Chanda Hinson ("Plaintiff") appeals from an order modifying child custody ("custody order") entered on 14 February 2019, which granted Michael Hinson ("Defendant") joint legal and primary physical custody of their two minor children. We affirm in part and remand.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff and Defendant married on 19 January 2007 and separated on 1 June 2017. They are parents of two minor children: S.H., born in 2006, and T.H., born in 2012. Defendant has served as a firefighter with the Albermarle Fire Department in Stanly County for nineteen years. During their marriage, Plaintiff worked in a "traditional role" raising their children. Since their separation, Plaintiff works part-time, sixteen hours per week, providing in-home medical services.

         On 14 February 2018, Plaintiff filed a verified complaint for custody, child support, equitable distribution, and attorney's fees. Plaintiff alleged she was a fit and proper person to have custody of the children, and their best interests would be served by custody with her.

         On 27 February 2018, Defendant filed an answer and counterclaim for the same, as well as a motion for status quo order. Defendant alleged, in part:

3.The Plaintiff has stated that she intends to uproot the minor children from their home town and relocate to Lincoln County, North Carolina away from all family and friends and everything they have ever known.
4.The Plaintiff has shown inconsistency by changing jobs frequently.
5. The Defendant has been employed with the same company for over eighteen (18) years.
9. The Defendant's parents have been actively involved in the care of the minor children.

         Defendant requested the trial court to grant him joint custody if Plaintiff remained in Stanly County, but moved for an award of primary custody if she moved to Lincoln County.

         On 7 March 2018, Plaintiff filed a reply to Defendant's answer and counterclaim. Plaintiff's reply admitted she has "considered relocating and that she let defendant know her thoughts." Plaintiff denied the rest of the allegations in paragraph 3, as well as those in paragraphs 4 and 9, of Defendant's counterclaim.

         The parties agreed to joint legal and physical custody of the children and established a regular visitation schedule. The parties resolved all issues and the trial court entered a consent judgment on 29 May 2018.

         Just over two months later on 10 August 2018, Plaintiff filed a motion to modify the terms of child custody she had agreed to in the consent judgment. Plaintiff alleged a substantial change in circumstances affecting the welfare of the children had occurred after the entry of the consent judgment on 29 May 2018:

including but not limited to defendant's change in work schedule, the children's wishes, mental health issues, scheduling problems, changes in living arrangements, inappropriate communications directed to plaintiff and to the children, refusal to children [sic] to contact plaintiff, problems regarding eczema and such additional and further changes which may be alleged and proven at trial.

         Plaintiff asked the court to modify the consent order and grant her the primary care and custody of the children.

         On 20 November 2018, Defendant filed a motion to modify custody and also another motion for a status quo order. Defendant also alleged a substantial change of circumstances affecting the welfare of the children including but not limited to the following:

a. The Plaintiff has missed a significant number of visitations with the minor children since the entry of the Consent Order filed May 29, 2018;
b. The Plaintiff has refused reasonable weekend visitation with the Defendant when he was willing to assist with childcare to avoid taking the youngest child to a funeral service of a grandparent he does not even know;
c. The Plaintiff has refused the Defendant Thanksgiving visitation with the minor children;
d. The Plaintiff continues to make derogatory references about the Defendant to the minor children;
e. The Plaintiff is coaching the minor children of things to say to their Defendant father in an attempt to alienate the children from their father;
f. The Plaintiff is attempting to drive a wedge between the minor children and the Defendant father;
g. The Plaintiff has denied telephone access with his minor children and oftentimes refuses to answer the Defendant's calls and ...

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