Tennessee child custody modification case summary.

Benjamin G. Palmer v. Jennifer J. Palmer

The mother and father were the parents of a daughter born in 2010.  In 2012, they were divorced in Montgomery County, Tennessee.  The trial court named the mother the primary residential parent and awarded her 330 days per year parenting time.  The father subsequently moved to Connecticut.

In 2017, the father petitioned for contempt and to modify the parenting plan.  The parents agreed to a mediated settlement under which the mother had 320 days parenting time, with the father having the other 45.

The father filed another petition in 2018, again asking for a modification.  The matter was heard by Judge Ross H. Hicks.  The trial court dismissed the petition, but granted the mother’s motion to have the father held in civil contempt.  The father was sentenced to 10 days in jail for failing to provide copies of tax returns.  Both parties were held in contempt for failing to attend a parenting class, but were allowed to cure this contempt.  The mother was also awarded $5,000 in attorney’s fees.  The father then appealed to the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

The father first argued that the lower court had erred in not finding a material change of circumstances so as to warrant a change of custody.  But the appeals court examined the evidence and concluded that the lower court was searching for, but failed to find, any material change of circumstances.

In particular, the father pointed out that his work scheduled had changed in order to allow more flexibility.  But the appeals court agreed with the lower court that this change was not significant.

The court also concluded that there was insufficient evidence to change the decision-making authority in the case, which was held by the mother.

The father also argued that the award of attorney’s fees was improper.  The lower court had granted this based upon its finding the father in contempt.  After examining the evidence, the appeals court concluded that this award was reasonable and within the lower court’s discretion.

For these reasons, the Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s judgment and remanded the case.  It also taxed the cost of appeal against the father.  The appellate court’s decision was authored by Judge John W. McClarty.

No. M2019-02071-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Dec. 10,  2020).

See original opinion for exact language.  Legal citations omitted.

To learn more, see Modifying Custody & Parenting Plans.

See also Tennessee Parenting Plans and Child Support Worksheets: Building a Constructive Future for Your Family featuring examples of parenting plans and child support worksheets from real cases available on Amazon.com.

The post Father’s More Flexible Work Schedule Not a Change of Circumstances first appeared on Miles Mason Family Law Group, PLC.