Williams v. Bittel
2007-CA-002568 11/25/09 2009 WL 4060081
Opinion by Senior Judge Harris; Judges Acree and Clayton concurred.
The Court affirmed orders of the family court denying appellants’/cross-appellees’ petition to modify custody, denying a motion to reconsider, and denying appellee’s/cross-appellant’s petition to modify custody and to stay a foreign judgment. The parties were granted joint custody after the family court found that they were de facto custodians of a child.
The Court first held that the out-of-state adoption of the child by appellants did not preempt the previously entered custody orders, which granted both parties joint custody of the child, designated appellants/cross-appellees as residential custodians, and granted liberal visitation to appellee/cross-appellant.
The Court next held that appellee/cross-appellant, who was granted joint custody rights because of his standing as a de facto custodian, was not required to continuously meet the de facto custodial requirements in order to maintain standing in the custody proceedings.
The Court finally held that the family court could properly condition its decision to defer to the foreign jurisdiction on the child’s custody and visitation by providing that the prior orders regarding joint custodianship and visitation would not be affected.