Austin v. Austin

The recent post-divorce parenting plan modification opinion in Austin v. Austin is of interest for two reasons:

  1. Mother moved away so Father sought to modify the parenting plan under the relocation statute. The trial court found that Mother moved either 97.7 miles away (according to her car’s odometer) or 98.7 miles away (according to Mapquest). In any event, it was less than the 100 mile distance necessary to trigger to relocation statute. Regardless of this curious evidence, the trial court properly found the move constituted a material change of circumstances so Father was allowed to seek modification of the parenting plan.
  2. Mother alleged Father failed to pay his court-ordered portion of Child’s uninsured medical expenses for several years, thereby accruing an arrearage of $1,750. The trial court found the equitable principle of laches applied and refused to consider any medical bill more than two years old. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Father did not even allege he had been prejudiced by Mother’s delay, this allegation being an essential element of the laches defense.

Austin v. Austin (Tenn. Ct. App. Mar. 11, 2010).

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K.O. Herston is a family-law attorney in Knoxville, Tennessee whose practice is devoted exclusively to family law, including divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, prenuptial agreements, and other aspects of family law.

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