KEELIA M. FAIRCLOTH, Plaintiff,
SANDY W. FAIRCLOTH, Defendant.
Court of Appeals of North Carolina
February 6, 2018
An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority. Citation is disfavored, but may be permitted in accordance with the provisions of Rule 30(e)(3) of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure.
Heard in the Court of Appeals 19 September 2017.
Appeal by plaintiff from order entered 27 September 2016 by Judge James A. Grogan in Rockingham County No. 12 CVD 1455 District Court.
Law Office of Cathy R. Stroupe, P.A., by Cathy R. Stroupe, for plaintiff-appellant.
No brief was filed on behalf of defendant.
Where the trial court's unchallenged findings of fact support its conclusion of law that there had not been a substantial change in circumstances affecting the welfare of the minor child, we affirm the trial court order denying plaintiff's motion to modify the prior child custody order.
Plaintiff Keelia M. Faircloth and defendant Sandy W. Faircloth were married on 16 September 2000 and separated on 3 June 2012. Their marriage produced two children, Cara (born September 2001) and Kevin (born June 2006).
Both children were born prematurely and exhibited a number of health issues. From their birth until 2010, the children resided in the marital home. From 2010 until the first child custody hearing, the children resided primarily with plaintiff in the residence of plaintiff's mother, which was next door to the marital home. The child custody hearing was held in Rockingham County District Court before the Honorable James A. Grogan. In an order entered 25 August 2014, Judge Grogan awarded defendant primary custody and plaintiff visitation.2
The issue of custody was again brought before Judge Grogan. In an order entered on 13 April 2016 nunc pro tunc 25 August 2014 (hereinafter the "13 April 2016 order") the court found that both Cara and Kevin had individualized education plans and that plaintiff had obtained training in special education. However, both children were behind in school and both missed more than twenty days of school in the previous school year (some absences due to medical appointments). In 2010, plaintiff and the children moved into the residence of plaintiff's mother, a two bedroom, one bathroom home. One of the bedrooms was not usable due to clutter. Plaintiff and one child slept in the living room: the child slept on the floor, and plaintiff slept in a recliner. The second child slept in a bedroom with her maternal grandmother. The court found that the residence also housed three dogs, one cat, and at least one bird. "There [was] often feces and urine from these animals on the floor of the home. The home [was] full of clutter and poorly kept." Plaintiff collected disability as did her mother.
As to defendant, the court found that he would help with the care of the children when he was not working. Defendant accepted a new, better job and moved from Rockingham County to Carteret County in August 2010; plaintiff did not relocate with him. Meanwhile, defendant remarried and at the time of the 2016 court hearing, lived with his wife and four-month-old daughter in a three-bedroom home in Beaufort. Defendant's home was clean and well kept, and both Cara and Kevin had their own room. When they stayed with defendant, both children slept by themselves. Defendant also identified schools the children would attend if they were in his custody. Defendant met with some of the minor children's teachers and helped the children with their homework when they visited him. Defendant also gave the children their medication when they were with him. Defendant arranged a pediatrician for the children in Morehead City and had made appointments for the children with the doctor. Defendant has been through the firefighter academy and is a trained paramedic. The court found that when with defendant, the children did not exhibit behavioral issues to the extent they did when with plaintiff.