The appellate courts in Tennessee issue a lot of family law opinions that don’t make it onto the blog for one reason or another. My subjective determination that an opinion is not “blogworthy” turns on my perception of the opinion’s usefulness to Tennessee lawyers and litigants. It could be a case where the issue appealed is controlled by well-established Tennessee law. Or it could be a case so fact specific as to be of no use to anyone else. Or it could just be a poorly-drafted opinion (yes, they exist, but I’m not naming names).
Although those opinions may not add much to the body of Tennessee family law, they often contain some little nugget of information that might be of interest. This post is a compilation of some of those “nuggets” from opinions issued in the last several months that didn’t make the grade for a full post.
Allocation of Tax Exemption for Child: Reeder v. Reeder (Tennessee Court of Appeals, Middle Section, February 24, 2012).
[A]s a matter of law, unless an exception applies, the federal Tax Reform Act of 1984 allocates the tax exemption to the custodial parent. No exception applies in this case; thus, the court did not err in awarding Mother the dependency tax credit.
Attorney’s Fees Awarded for Pro Bono Lawyer: Amezcua v. Amezcua, (Tennessee Court of Appeals, Middle Section, March 26, 2012).
We find no abuse of discretion in the trial court’s award of [$28,730 in] fees in this case. The fact that Mother’s counsel was representing her on a pro bono basis means only that Mother was not charged a fee for counsel’s services; it does not require the court to disregard the statutory authority for such award. Contrary to the argument of Father, Mother receives no “windfall” from the award.
Counseling if Child Refuses Visitation: Reeder v. Reeder (Tennessee Court of Appeals, Middle Section, February 24, 2012).
Trial court’s provision requiring prompt involvement of counselor if the child refused visitation and directing the parents to follow the counselor’s recommendations was in everyone’s best interest.
Failing to Pay Child Support May Be Inherently Willful: Estes v. Estes (Tennessee Court of Appeals, Eastern Section, March 13, 2012).
Father’s refusal to submit child support pursuant to the order was willful because he knew of the obligation but failed to fulfill the obligation. Acting contrary to a known duty may constitute willfulness for the purpose of a civil contempt proceeding.
Paying Other Expenses Evidences Ability to Pay Child Support: State ex rel. Trisler v. Collins (Tennessee Court of Appeals, Middle Section, April 19, 2012).
Spending money on other bills or obligations does not absolve the failure to pay court-ordered child support. In fact, having the means to meet other obligations evidences the ability to pay child support.
Information provided by K.O. Herston: Knoxville, Tennessee Matrimonial, Divorce and Family Law Attorney.