Tennessee child custody case summary and divorce process.
The mother in this McMinn County, Tennessee, case filed for divorce in 2019, and requested a restraining order and temporary parenting plan.
The parties ultimately agreed to a disposition, but the trial court declined to approve it until after a Guardian ad Litem was appointed. Accordingly, the trial court, Judge Lawrence Howard Puckett, entered only a temporary parenting plan granting equal parenting time.
Ultimately, the trial court entered a final order naming the mother as the primary residential parent, with the father receiving alternating weekends as his parenting time. The father then appealed to the Tennessee Court of Appeals. He argued that the earlier temporary order should have remained in effect, and that the final judgment was therefore improper.
The Court of Appeals interpreted the father’s argument to be that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to alter its earlier oral ruling. But the Court of Appeals stated that the father’s argument showed a “fundamental misunderstanding” of both the law and the procedural posture of the case. In particular, the appeals court noted that the earlier oral ruling could not have been a final judgment, because no oral pronouncement constitutes a final judgment until made part of a duly entered written judgment.
In this case, the trial court’s oral ruling was subject to modification at any time until a final written judgment was made.
The appeals court went further and held that the father’s argument was frivolous, in that it was devoid of merit and had no reasonable chance of success. Therefore, it awarded the mother her attorney’s fees in defending the appeal.
For these reasons, the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the lower court and remanded the case for a determination of the mother’s reasonable attorney’s fees. It also taxed the costs of the appeal upon the father.
No. E2020–00761-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Apr. 13, 2021).
See original opinion for exact language. Legal citations omitted.
To learn more, see Child Custody Laws in Tennessee.
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 Divorce Court Free to Modify Temporary Oral Custody Order first appeared on Miles Mason Family Law Group, PLC.