Fayette County, Tennessee Courthouse

Tennessee little one custody modification case abstract.

Robin Drewry Luttrell (Wassenberg) v. Samuel Richard Wassenberg

The mom and father on this Fayette County, Tennessee, parental relocation case had been divorced in 2011 and had been the mother and father of 1 little one.  They had been in a position to comply with a everlasting parenting plan which referred to as for equal parenting time, with each mother and father designated as main residential guardian.

When the kid was twelve, the daddy moved to Georgia, and the kid stayed with the mom whereas they mentioned modifications to the parenting plan.  They had been unable to achieve an settlement, and in 2016, the mom petitioned for a change in parenting plan and to carry the daddy in contempt.  The contempt cost was based mostly on the daddy’s alleged failure to pay bills below the plan.  Shortly thereafter, the court docket entered a consent order prohibiting both guardian from discussing the litigation points with the kid.

The daddy filed a counterpetition and alleged that the kid most popular to reside with him.  He requested for 285 days of parenting time.

The kid had particular wants as a consequence of her studying disabilities, and her college had really helpful a faculty extra suited to her wants.  The mom chosen a non-public college in Memphis, however the father disagreed.  The mom requested the court docket to determine this subject as nicely.

The trial court docket entered an interim order calling for the kid to go to the Memphis college.  As a result of the schooling was greater, the interim order requested the daddy to pay solely half of the outdated tuition.

The court docket additionally discovered that the transfer was a cloth change of circumstances and for that cause modified the custody preparations.  The court docket named the mom the first residential guardian, with the daddy having visitation on some weekends.

Sooner or later earlier than the ultimate listening to, the daddy introduced the kid to his lawyer’s workplace, the place the kid signed an affidavit indicating her want to reside with the daddy.  This was filed with the court docket, however the mom by no means obtained a replica.  The mom filed one other contempt petition over a variety of points, together with the assembly within the lawyer’s workplace.

The trial court docket ordered the affidavit stricken from the report, and the daddy was ordered to pay lawyer charges regarding the affidavit.

A trial was held, beginning with the legal contempt listening to., and the daddy was held in legal contempt for discussing litigation points with the kid.  He was sentenced to 10 days in jail, with 9 days suspended.

The mom was named the first residential guardian.  Regardless that the kid had expressed her needs on the contrary, the court docket held that this was tainted by the daddy’s discussing the matter together with her.  The court docket additionally set little one assist.

The ultimate order additionally granted the mom main decision-making energy.

After one remaining skirmish involving the daddy’s posting a bond over past-due little one assist, the daddy appealed to the Tennessee Court docket of Appeals.

The daddy first argued that the decrease court docket had been unduly harsh in sanctioning him for discovery violations.  The daddy’s skill to supply proof had been restricted at trial due to failure to reveal data.  After reviewing the proof, the appeals court docket agreed that the decrease court docket had acted inside its discretion and affirmed.

The daddy additionally argued that the kid ought to have been allowed to testify at trial.  This testimony had been excluded partially as a result of the mom stipulated that the kid would have testified that she most popular to reside with the daddy.

The daddy argued that this wasn’t actually a stipulation, as a result of it was not a mutual settlement as to a truth.  However after inspecting the entire details, the appeals court docket held that the actions of the events amounted to a stipulation as to that subject.

The daddy additionally argued that the decrease court docket had misapplied one of the best curiosity components in reaching its choice.  On this subject, the appeals court docket discovered that there was an inadequate report to assessment the problem.  For that cause, it remanded the case for the decrease court docket to make extra detailed factual findings on the problem.  Within the meantime, the short-term order would stay in impact.

The appeals court docket additionally reviewed the contempt order and held that the daddy’s actions in taking the kid to his lawyer’s workplace constituted willfulness.  Due to this fact, it affirmed the contempt order.

For these causes, the Court docket of Appeals remanded the case for additional truth discovering.

No. W2017-02443-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. July 9,  2020).

See authentic opinion for actual language.  Authorized citations omitted.

To be taught extra, see Modifying Custody & Parenting Plans.

See additionally Tennessee Parenting Plans and Child Support Worksheets: Building a Constructive Future for Your Family that includes examples of parenting plans and little one assist worksheets from actual circumstances accessible on Amazon.com.


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