Restrictions on Alcohol Consumption Expanded in Cleveland, Tennessee Divorce: Williams v. Williams

April 25, 2022 K.O. Herston 0 Comments

Facts: Father and Mother, the parents of Child, divorced after five years of marriage.

The trial court entered a temporary parenting plan prohibiting Father from consuming alcohol during his parenting time or before he picks Child up for his parenting time. Father was also ordered to obtain treatment for alcoholism.

After a trial, Father was awarded 130 days of parenting time. Father was ordered to not drink “to excess” during his parenting time and to continue his treatment for alcohol abuse.

To ensure Father’s compliance, he was ordered to install a breathalyzer application on his mobile phone that would measure his blood alcohol levels when exchanging Child. If he tested above .08%, his parenting time would be suspended. If he tested positive for alcohol but below .08%, he could test again 30 minutes later. If his blood alcohol level had decreased by the second test, he could continue with his parenting time.

The alcohol restrictions would be removed once Father filed a petition showing successful completion of the required treatment for alcohol abuse.

Mother appealed.

On Appeal: The Court of Appeals modified the trial court’s judgment.

A Tennessee court may impose restrictions on a parent’s parenting time if it finds the parent suffers from drug, alcohol, or other substance abuse that interferes with the performance of parenting responsibilities.

The Court found the trial court did not go far enough in restricting Father’s parenting time under the circumstances:

[Mother] did present substantial evidence of [Father’s] alcohol abuse, and this evidence is reflected in the trial court’s findings of fact. The same findings of fact that support the court’s decision to require [Father] to utilize a breathalyzer test before each exchange and continue alcohol abuse treatment also demonstrate that [Father] should not be permitted to consume alcohol during his coparenting time. Although the court credited [Father’s] testimony over [Mother’s] with respect to [Father’s] drinking habits, the court credited other testimony that evinced [Father’s] alcohol abuse. The trial court found that [Father] had acknowledged to his alcohol abuse treatment provider [] that he had abused alcohol in the past. The court also found that [Father] had testified to drinking five days per week. The court further credited [Maternal Grandmother’s] testimony concerning [Father’s] excessive use of alcohol during the marriage and [Mother’s] testimony that she called her parents on four or five occasions to the marital residence in response to [Father’s] intoxication.

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[T]he court did find that [Father] had been drinking while also driving with Child present in the vehicle. This incident, in conjunction with other evidence presented of [Father’s] alcohol abuse, demonstrates that the court should have restricted [Father] from consuming alcohol during his coparenting time in order to ensure the safety of Child.

Inasmuch as [Father] has exhibited a history of alcohol abuse, such that the trial court fashioned a permanent parenting plan order in which [Father] would be required to perform a breathalyzer test at every exchange and continue to seek treatment from an alcohol abuse treatment professional, we conclude that the trial court erred by permitting [Father] to consume alcohol during his coparenting time.

The Court modified the trial court’s judgment to prohibit Father from consuming any alcohol during his coparenting time.

Williams v. Williams (Tennessee Court of Appeals, Eastern Section, April 7, 2022).

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Restrictions on Alcohol Consumption Expanded in Cleveland, Tennessee Divorce: Williams v. Williams was last modified: April 20th, 2022 by K.O. Herston

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