Oral arg. – COA – Oct. 8, 2015

At 1:30 the Court will hear the case of Steve Haltom and Sheree Haltom v. Harland Jones, a case involving the natural parent presumption and custody of Hayden, the son of Harland and Jessica Jones.  When Hayden was born in June of 2008, the Jones’ had marital problems and Jessica had severe health problems.  Hayden went to line with Jessica’s parents, the Altoms. when he was nine days old. A few months later, the Jones’ divorced.  Jessica got sole legal and physical custody of Hayden but he spent most of his time with the Altoms.  Jessica had another child, Zoey, after her divorce. In  November  2012, Jessica died in an automobile accident and  Zoey came to live with the Altoms. (The Altoms eventually got permanent custody of Zoey).  On the day after Jessica’s death, Harland filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Hayden. The Altoms went to  Youth Court  and got an order granting them temporary custody of Hayden and Zoey.   Harland then filed for custody.  At a temporary hearing, the Chancellor found that the natural parent presumption had been rebutted by clear and convincing evidence and determined that it was in Hayden’s best interests for the Altoms to have custody.  When the final hearing was held a year later,  the Court ruled that the natural parent presumption again applied,  reversed his previous decision and awarded  custody of Hayden to Harland. The Altoms appealed .arguing that  the natural parent presumption cannot be applied after a previous finding that the presumption was rebutted by clear and convincing evidence.

Altoms’  brief 

Jones’ brief

Altoms’ reply brief

Watch the argument here.

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