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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Dec 1, 2014

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Douglas Thompson Bates, III, Centerville, Tennessee, for the appellant, John Wayne McDonald.

Attorneys 2:

Melanie Totty Cagle, Centerville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Jamie Rhea McDonald Bunnell.

Judge(s): GIBSON

John Wayne McDonald (“Father”) and Jamie Rhea McDonald Bunnell (“Mother”) had two children during their marriage before divorcing in 2012. The permanent parenting plan entered with the divorce named Mother the primary residential parent. After Mother remarried and relocated with the children, Father filed a petition to modify the existing parenting plan and asked the court to designate him the children’s primary residential parent. Father argued that the behavior of Mother’s new husband (“Stepfather”) around the children constituted a material change in circumstance and that the modification would be in the children’s best interest. At a hearing, Father presented evidence that Stepfather used foul language around the children and had, in jest, referred to them using a racial slur. The trial court found that Stepfather’s behavior, though “distasteful and ill-advised,” did not constitute a material change in circumstance. Father appealed. After careful consideration, we conclude that the evidence in the record does not preponderate against the trial court’s finding. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.