Tenn Parent’s College Tuition Payment Limited to Reasonable Amount

Tennessee child support case law summary on college tuition costs Tennessee Court of Appeals.

Linda Sue Long Hathaway (Branstetter) vs. Glenn Jefferies Hathaway – Tennessee child support law

Tennessee Parent's Obligation for College Costs Limited to Reasonable Amount

Tennessee Parent’s Obligation for College Costs Limited to Reasonable Amount

At issue in this appeal was a single sentence from a “Marital Dissolution Agreement,” signed by the Mother, Linda Sue Long Hathaway (Branstetter), and the Father, Glenn Jefferies Hathaway, in 1987, when their children were 2 and 5 years old.  The contract provision read:  “The husband shall pay all customary and reasonable tuition expenses for the parties’ minor children in obtaining a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.”  Based upon this language, the trial court ordered the Father, Glenn Jefferies Hathaway, to pay his daughter’s tuition, without limitation.  The Court of Appeals modified the decision. Continue reading

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In TN Child Support Suits for Contempt, There Can Be a Jury Trial

Tennessee child support law on right to a jury trial for contempt for failure to pay child support from the Supreme Court of Tennessee.

Susan L. Brown vs. Fred De Loach Latham and Patricia Peebles Walker vs. Clint Monroe Walker, Sr. – Tennessee child support law

Two cases were consolidated on appeal because both involved issues of contempt for failure to make child support payments.  The question that arose is whether someone accused of contempt can request a jury trial.  The Supreme Court affirmed that there is indeed a right to a jury trial when one is defending against criminal contempt charges, even when done in the context of a civil child support enforcement proceeding.

The first matter concerned Fred De Loach Latham, against whom his former wife, Susan Latham (Brown), had taken a judgment for child support arrears.  She requested he be incarcerated, and he requested a jury trial.  No case details were provided in the opinion as to the amount or duration of arrears claimed or the income of the Father. Continue reading

In Tennessee Child Support Law, Courts Can Prorate as Children Turn 18

Tennessee child support law on proration of child support in Tennessee family law from the Supreme Court of Tennessee.

Sarah Avalon Myatt Clinard (Brown) vs. James Edward Clinard – Tennessee child support law – proration as children grow up

With three children in common, Sarah Clinard Brown and James Edward Clinard were divorced in 1969.  The Mother was awarded custody, and the Father was directed to pay $60 per week as child support.  Less than a year later, the Father began paying $25 per week, prorated for a child having turned 18.  The Mother accepted this $25 per week for 15-years, until the youngest child turned 18-years of age.  No court cases were filed during the entire of the children’s minority.

Then, in 1993, eight years after the youngest child was emancipated, the Mother filed a petition to reduce child support arrearages to a judgment, interest, and for contempt.  The Father conceded he owed arrears, but disputed the amount. Continue reading

Special Education Needs Can Require Private School Tuition in Tenn.

Special Education Needs Can Require Private School Tuition & Tennessee Mother Not Required to Consult with Father

Special Education Needs Can Require Private School Tuition & Tennessee Mother Not Required to Consult with Father

Special Education Needs Can Require Private School Tuition & Tennessee Mother Not Required to Consult with Father

Judi Richardson vs. George Kevin Spanos – Special Education and Private School Tuition in Tennessee Child Support Law

This case stands for the principle that a primary residential parent may unilaterally seek the special education services a child needs, including enrollment in a private school, and compel the other parent to provide the necessary financial support, which may be in addition to the standard child support obligation.

The child at the center of this case was an 11-year old boy named Lewis, who had special education needs.  His Father, Dr. George Kevin Spanos, was a physician, who had little to do with his son.  The Court of Appeals noted that at the time of trial, the Father had not visited Lewis for four years, and that their last visit was an hour spent at a bowling alley. Continue reading