Court of Appeals Reversed: Hollandsworth Presumption Does Not Apply in Joint Custody

I previously blogged about Bishop v. Singletary, 2013 Ark. App. 394, a custody case where the parents shared joint custody, the mother proposed a move out-of-state, and the trial court changed custody to the father.

On appeal, a split en banc panel of the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court, saying the Hollandsworth presumption would apply even in a joint-custody situation.   Recall Hollandsworth v. Knyzweski, 353 Ark. 470, 109 S.W.3d 653 (2003), announced a presumption in favor of a custodial parent’s relocation, and that relocation alone would not constitute a material change of circumstances to justify a change of custody.

But that decision (and blog post) can be relegated to the dust bin of history because the Court of Appeals decision in Bishop was taken on review by the Arkansas Supreme Court and the Supreme Court reached the opposite conclusion.

A 5-2 decision of the Supreme Court vacated the Court of Appeals opinion and affirmed the trial court.   The majority held: “We clarify today that the Hollandsworth relocation presumption applies only in those cases where a parent has been granted sole or primary custody of a child.   We further clarify that the Hollandsworth relocation presumption simply does not apply when the parents share joint custody of a child.”   The decision goes on to announce the analysis to be applied when a court faces a change in custody request involving a joint custody arrangement.   The trial court must first find a material change in circumstances, and then determine if a change of custody is in the best interests of the child, citing Lewellyn v. Lewellyn, 351 Ark. 346, 93 S.W.3d 681 (2002).

The full text of the Supreme Court’s decision can be found here:

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