Assigned on Briefs August 4, 2014
Appeal from the Chancery Court for Scott County No. 10387 Hon. Andrew R. Tillman, Chancellor
Henry D. Forrester, III, Clinton, Tennessee, for the appellant, Temitope "Michael" Bamiji Ogunmola. David D. Noel, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee,
Jennifer Scarlett Robbins Goodman.
John W. McClarty, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Charles D. Susano, Jr., C.J. and Thomas R. Frierson, II, J., joined.
JOHN W. McCLARTY, JUDGE
Jennifer Scarlett Robbins Goodman ("Plaintiff") married Temitope "Michael" Bamiji Ogunmola ("Defendant") in October 2010. Approximately two years later, Plaintiff filed a complaint for divorce, alleging that irreconcilable differences had arisen and that Defendant had been guilty of such inappropriate marital conduct that further cohabitation was unsafe and improper. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant had deceived her to secure his immigration status and that she had aided him financially in order to secure his status, believing that he truly wanted to marry her. She requested the return of her personal property, an equitable division of the marital property, and reimbursement for her financial investment in the marriage and lost income as a foster parent as a result of the marriage.
Plaintiff arranged for service of process through the Tennessee Secretary of State pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 20-2-115 and Rule 4.05(5) of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure because Defendant lived in Kentucky. The United States Postal Service made three attempts to deliver the summons and complaint before returning the certified mail as "unclaimed" on November 1, 2012. Defendant failed to appear or respond to the complaint. Plaintiff filed a motion for default judgment on December 20, 2012. Approximately one month later, the trial court granted Plaintiff's request for divorce, entered a default judgment against Defendant in the amount of $11, 000, and awarded Plaintiff attorney fees in the amount of $750.
Approximately one month later, Defendant filed a motion to set aside the default judgment entered against him. He alleged that he never received the summons or complaint for divorce. He stated that his actual address was
1028 Champion Court
Frankfurt, Kentucky 40601
but that the service of process ...