Unequal Parenting Schedule Vacated in Fayetteville, Tennessee Parenting Dispute: Pogue v. Simms

May 8, 2023 K.O. Herston 1 Comments

Facts: Mother and Father are the never-married parents of Child. After Child’s birth, Father’s parentage was established.

There was little, if any, disagreement among the witnesses. The testimony revealed that Mother and Father were both excellent parents who provided well for Child. Testimony also reflected that they agreed on most things about the care of Child and the other’s parenting abilities. The proof also showed that both parents acted respectfully toward one another.

With no findings of fact or conclusions of law, the trial court awarded Mother 229 days of parenting time and Father 136 days.

Father appealed, complaining the trial court erred in not maximizing his parenting time.

On Appeal: The Court of Appeals vacated the trial court’s ruling.

Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-6-106(a) requires trial courts to order a custody arrangement that permits both parents to enjoy the “maximum participation possible” in the child’s life if the trial court finds it to be in the child’s best interest.

The Court vacated the trial court’s ruling:

We are unable to discern the reasoning for the trial court’s decision due to its failure to set forth any findings of fact or conclusions of law in its order as required by the Rules of Civil Procedure.

Here, both Mother and Father agree that the other is an excellent parent to Child, that they each play an active role in Child’s life, and that they coparent effectively…. It is difficult for this Court to ascertain the reasoning behind the trial court’s award of parenting time to the parties, specifically its failure to maximize Father’s parenting time with Child. Indeed, the trial court’s order contains no findings of fact or conclusions of law regarding its decision to award Mother 229 days and Father only 136 days of parenting time, and we find no indication in this record that the trial court’s disposition was made in consideration of the legislative intent of § 36-6-106(a)’s requirement that courts are to fashion arrangements to maximize a parent’s time with their child in accordance with the child’s best interests. As we noted, it is apparent from the record that Mother and Father both play a positive and important role in Child’s life and that they are able to effectively coparent. Moreover, the record reflects that Child is attached to both parents and also reveals no concerns regarding either parent’s environment or fitness as it pertains to Child.

The Court vacated the trial court’s ruling and remanded the case with directions to “reconsider its determination in accordance with the mandatory language contained in § 36-6-106(a).”

Source: Pogue v. Simms (Tennessee Court of Appeals, Middle Section, April 19, 2023).

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Unequal Parenting Schedule Vacated in Fayetteville, Tennessee Parenting Dispute: Pogue v. Simms was last modified: April 30th, 2023 by K.O. Herston

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