Denial of Transgender Child’s Name Change Reversed in Williamson County, Tennessee: In re Leyna A.

Facts: Sixteen-year-old Child was born female but identifies as male. Child is transgender and undergoing a medical transition via hormone therapy from the female gender to the male gender. Child was diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria, a medical diagnosis that refers to the emotional distress of having a gender identity that is different than the gender […]

Read More

Refusal to Award Child Support Retroactive to Birth Affirmed in Gallatin, TN Paternity Matter: Carr v. Sutton

Facts: Mother gave birth to Child in 1996. No father was listed on the birth certificate. When Child was 17 years old, the State petitioned to establish paternity and require the father to provide health insurance for Child. DNA testing confirmed Father’s paternity a few months before Child’s 18th birthday. An order was entered, but […]

Read More

Tennessee Family Law Legislative Update 2017

Hello, friends! It’s that time of year again—time to review how our legislators made Tennessee family law worse than it was this time last year. First, let’s all take a minute to chug a jar of East Tennessee moonshine to prepare ourselves for what’s to come. OK, now that we’re sufficiently numb, let’s get started. Hit us with your best shot, […]

Read More

No Wage Assignment for Child Support and Changing Child’s Last Name Reversed in Clinton, TN Parenting Dispute: Howell v. Smithwick

Facts: Mother and Father are the unmarried parents of Child. Within a week of Child’s birth, Father filed a petition to establish paternity and a parenting schedule. An agreed temporary parenting plan was entered. Later, disputes regarding parenting and contempt landed the parents back in court. The only issues I find noteworthy are the trial […]

Read More

Tennessee Family Law Legislative Update 2016

Things were relatively quiet on the family-law front this past legislative session. Notably missing, however, was any effort to update the various family-law statutes to account for the constitutionally-protected rights of same-sex parents. Until that happens, Tennessee children and their same-sex parents will continue to navigate in an atmosphere of legal uncertainty. There were several […]

Read More

Court Divided over Scope of Wanton Disregard as Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights: In re K.F.R.T.

Facts: Father’s children were adjudicated dependent and neglected and put in the custody of the Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) after Father committed domestic assault against Mother. DCS petitioned to terminate Father’s parental rights to the children on grounds of, inter alia, wanton disregard for the welfare of the children. Father was incarcerated at the […]

Read More

Tennessee Supreme Court Divides 3-2 On “Effective” Court-Appointed Counsel in Termination of Parental Rights Cases: In re Carrington H., et al.

Facts: Mother’s parental rights to Child were terminated after a trial in which she was represented by court-appointed counsel. The trial court found three separate grounds for termination. Mother appealed the trial court’s termination of her parental rights. Mother’s court-appointed counsel sought appellate review of two of the three grounds for termination. The Court of […]

Read More

Tennessee Supreme Court Creates Exceptions to Void Judgment in Adoption Dispute

Facts: The facts of this sad case are set forth in my blog post on the Court of Appeals’ opinion. Click HERE to see that post. I suggest you read that post before proceeding. On Appeal: The Tennessee Supreme Court reversed the courts below. Holding #1: The judgment terminating Mother’s parental rights is void. The record of the […]

Read More

Child’s Last Name Litigated in Nashville, TN Paternity Case: In re Joseph H.

Facts: Mother and Father are the unmarried parents of Child. Before being discharged from the hospital, when it was time to sign Child’s birth certificate, Mother informed Father that she had decided Child would have her last name. Mother testified she did not make this decision lightly and felt it was in Child’s best interest because […]

Read More