Parenting Plan Reversed after Emancipation of Oldest Child in Greeneville, Tennessee Parenting Plan Modification: Gaby v. Gaby

November 21, 2022 K.O. Herston 0 Comments

Facts: Mother and Father, the parents of two children, divorced. Initially, Father’s parenting time was limited to 52 days because of anger management issues and an unusual work schedule that made it difficult for him to spend time with the children.

One year after the divorce, Father petitioned to modify the parenting plan, claiming that he had taken significant steps to improve himself and his relationship with the children. He changed his work schedule to allow parenting time after school and on the weekends. He requested equal parenting time.

While Father’s petition was pending, his relationship with the oldest child deteriorated to where she refused to see him, mainly because of what she perceived to be his favoritism for her younger sister and his relationship with his live-in girlfriend.

After hearing the proof, the trial court cursorily explained the best-interest factors and only increased Father’s parenting time to 90 days.

Father appealed. The Court of Appeals remanded the case to the trial court for an order requiring the necessary findings of fact and conclusions of law.

On remand, the parties provided the trial court with copies of their appellate briefs containing their best-interest factors analyses.

The trial court entered an order containing detailed findings and setting a parenting schedule that kept Father’s parenting time at 90 days. A particular focus for the trial court was Father’s strained relationship with the oldest child, even though the trial court found the younger child preferred more parenting time with Father.

Father appealed, arguing that the trial court did not maximize each parent’s participation in the children’s lives.

While the appeal was pending, the oldest child became an adult.

On Appeal: The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court.

The best-interest analysis is a fact-sensitive inquiry requiring Tennessee courts to consider the factors found in Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-6-106(a).

The Court observed that the trial court focused on concerns relating to the oldest child, who was no longer subject to the parenting plan after she became an adult during the appeal:

With these considerations in mind, we hold that remand, once again, is appropriate for the trial court to solely consider the best interest of [the younger child], the only remaining minor child subject to the parameters of a permanent parenting plan. Upon remand, we encourage the parties to work together with the trial court to fashion a residential schedule that is in the minor child’s best interest and that maximizes each parent’s participation in her life for the remainder of her adolescence.

Gaby v. Gaby (Tennessee Court of Appeals, Eastern Section, November 17, 2022).

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Parenting Plan Reversed after Emancipation of Oldest Child in Greeneville, Tennessee Parenting Plan Modification: Gaby v. Gaby was last modified: November 20th, 2022 by K.O. Herston

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