Tenn. Trial Lawyer Father’s Child Support Income Based on Disability

Tennessee child support law in Tennessee family law from the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

Turner v. Turner – Child Support Income Determination for Disabled Trial Lawyer

Ginger and Robert Turner, Jr. were married in 1980.  Mr. Turner was a trial lawyer, and Ms. Turner was a college graduate who had worked for several Nashville companies.  After getting married, Ms. Turner worked in Mr. Turner’s law office until their first child was born in June 1985. Their second child was born in February 1988.

The court of appeals described the marriage as troubled from the beginning.  Mrs. Turner left Mr. Turner for three periods during the marriage.  Subsequently in April 1991, she and the children left home and moved into a domestic violence shelter.  One week later, she filed a complaint for separate maintenance and also sought and obtained a temporary restraining order to prevent Mr. Turner from harassing or threatening her or interfering with her custody of the children.  Mr. Turner was hospitalized and treated for severe depression and other problems. The parties attempted to reconcile after Mr. Turner returned to Nashville, but five weeks later, Ms. Turner and the children moved into a one bedroom apartment attached to her parents’ home. Continue reading

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In TN Child Support Retained Earnings Must Be Manipulated to Be Income

Tennessee law case summary on income determination. Absent a showing that the retained earnings were excessive or that an obligor was actually manipulating his or her income, the retained earnings of an S corporation should not be imputed as income to the sole or majority shareholder in calculating a child support obligation. Tennessee child support law from the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

Taylor v. Fezell – Tennessee child support case summary on retained earnings as income.

Douglas Fezell and Angela Daniels were married in 1986, and had two children. The couple divorced in 1999.  In their Marital Dissolution Agreement (MDA), Mrs. Fezell was designated as the primary residential custodian of the two minor children. The MDA also provided that Mr. Fezell was to have visitation time greater than the standard amount contemplated by the Tennessee Child Support Guidelines (guidelines).  In consideration of Mr. Fezell’s additional visitation and the establishment of a trust fund for the children, the parties agreed that Mr. Fezell would pay child support in the amount of $1,000 per month until July 31, 1999; after that it would increase to $1,300.  The MDA also provided a method to calculate Mr. Fezell’s contribution to the trust.

Mr. Fezell’s child support obligation was based, in part, on his income from Professional Vending Services (PVS).  At the time of the divorce, Mr. and Mrs. Fezell were the sole shareholders of the company, each owning a 50% interest.  The Fezells agreed in the MDA that Mr. Fezell would continue to run PVS as the sole shareholder and president, and that he would pay his ex-wife $310,000 in exchange for her half of the company.  Mr. Fezell completed the purchase of this stock and was the sole shareholder of the corporation at the time of the appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court. Continue reading

Tenn. Child Support on Business Owner’s Earnings Less Certain Expenses

Tennessee law case summary on income determination and deductions for income determination of a business owner under Tennessee divorce and family law from the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

Presson v. Presson – Tennessee Child Support Case Summary – forrestry services business

Michael and Joan Presson were married in September of 1974. They had one child.  Mr. Presson sued for divorce in 1991, and the Pressons entered into a Marital Dissolution Agreement (MDA) three days after the divorce complaint was filed.  The MDA set Mr. Presson’s monthly child support obligation at $700.  Mrs. Presson subsequently consulted two attorneys before retaining a third in an attempt to invalidate the MDA.  The parties entered into an Amended and Re-stated MDA in July 1991.  This second Agreement provided that Mr. Presson was to pay monthly child support of $800.

In June 1992, the Mrs. Presson filed a petition to set aside the final decree regarding the child support.  At an evidentiary hearing in the trial court.  Both parties presented expert testimony touching upon Mrs. Presson’s mental and emotional state during the period of negotiations leading up to the execution of the Amended and Restated MDA.  The trial court entered a nine page order on June 18, 1993, in which it denied the Mrs. Presson’s Petition to Set Aside Final Decree, but increased her child support entitlement to $1,000 per month plus $300 per month to be placed in an educational trust fund. Continue reading

Self-employed Tenn. Father Held Earns $14,000 / Mo for Child Support

Tennessee law case summary on income determination for self-employed parents in Tennessee divorce and family law from the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

Norton v. Norton – Tennessee Child Support Case Summary – Income determination for self-employed child support obligors

Note: Although the Tennessee child support guidelines are significantly different today than at the time this case was issued, the discussion regarding income determination is a very helpful example of the types of issues that arise when dealing with self-employed business owners.

Lisa Norton appealed the trial court’s judgment increasing the child support obligation of  Max Norton from $400 per month to $1,200 per month; ordering Mr. Norton to contribute $300 per month to an educational trust fund for the Nortons’ minor child.  In considering Mrs. Norton’s petition to modify child support, the trial court found that Mr. Norton’s financial condition changed very little since 1988 when they agreed to a Marital Dissolution Agreement (MDA).  However, based primarily on Mr. Norton’s agreement to pay more child support, the trial court increased his monthly child support obligation to $1,200.  The Tennessee Court of Appeals vacated the trial court’s decision based on its conclusion that the trial court used the incorrect test for determining whether Mrs. Norton was entitled to the relief sought in her petition for modification. Continue reading