inside Gardner v. McKenneyMcKenney (mother) and Gardner (father) had joint custody, but mother wanted to be appointed primary guardian, and refrained from “making an order.”[ing] [Gardner] from renting out children’s bedrooms in their primary residence as short-term rentals.'” The Texas Court of Appeals affirmed yesterday in an opinion by Justice Thomas Baker, joined by Justices Edward Smith and Rosa Lopez Theofanis:
Noting that the trial judge “is best able to observe and evaluate the demeanor and credibility of the witnesses” and experiences “power, authority, and influence” that may not be apparent from a mere reading of the record on appeal, we conclude that the evidence is sufficient from which the trial court exercised its discretion. could and the exercise of the court’s discretion in rendering the room-rent provision of the order was reasonable…
McKenney testified that he believed that strangers being in KLG’s bedroom and sleeping in his bed was important to the teenager, who noticed that her belongings had been ransacked while he was gone. McKenney explained that there were no locks on the children’s closets and cabinets, and that she was concerned for her children’s physical and emotional well-being based on the risks associated with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the possibility of strangers leaving cameras in bedrooms. or take things. There was substantial evidence of KLG’s ongoing mental and emotional problems, for which he was currently partially hospitalized and for which the parties did not always agree on the best treatment.
Gardner confirmed that she rented the children’s room for about 100 days in one year—the same year that included KLG’s suicide attempt and many behavioral concerns, as well as the estrangement between KLG and Gardner. Although Gardner testified that the room rental did not “bother” KLG, that the children knew they were “welcome” to lock anything in his closet that they did not want to give up while renting out their room, and that the children enjoyed the “extra money” he had. Given their room for rent, the trial court may find such testimony untrustworthy or outweigh the teenagers’ need for stability in their two homes, including not having to remember to lock every item. Especially considering KLG’s significant and ongoing mental and emotional issues at the time they moved into their mother’s home. The trial court also could reasonably infer that the children’s awareness of the parent-child relationship and the parties’ custody dispute prevented the children from telling their father how they felt about renting their house.