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Wade v. Wade

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

April 28, 2015


Session March 10, 2015

Appeal from the Chancery Court for Benton County No. 2613 Paul G. Summers, Judge.

Charles G. Blackard, III, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Kerrie Janel Wade.

C. Timothy Crocker, Michael A. Carter, J. Noble Grant, III and Ryan L. Hall, Milan, Tennessee, for the appellee, Vernon Franklin Wade, Jr.

Arnold B. GOLDIN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Kenny Armstrong, J., joined.



This appeal arises from a divorce action following a twenty-year marriage. Appellant Kerrie Janel Wade ("Mother") and Appellee Vernon Franklin Wade, Jr., ("Father") were married in August 1992, when Mother was nineteen years old and Father was twenty-six years old. Four children were born of the marriage. Three of the children were minors when Mother filed a complaint for divorce in the Chancery Court of Benton County on May 4, 2012. In her complaint, Mother alleged irreconcilable differences and inappropriate marital conduct as her grounds for divorce. She asserted that the parties' children resided with her and prayed to be named primary residential parent of the children; for Father to be awarded reasonable liberal visitation; for child support pursuant to the child support guidelines; for an equitable division of the parties' personal property and debt; and for approval of any marital dissolution agreement that the parties might file. The parties and their children resided in the same household when Mother filed her complaint, and the children were homeschooled by Mother.

Father answered and filed a counter-complaint on May 14, 2012. Father denied Mother's allegations of irreconcilable differences and inappropriate martial conduct and asserted that the parties' two older children resided with him. He prayed to be named primary residential parent, admitted that he was able to provide financially for the children, and denied that Mother was entitled to attorney's fees. He counter-claimed for a divorce on the grounds of cruel and inhumane conduct and adultery, and prayed for child support pursuant to the child support guidelines. Father also prayed that all the parties' real and personal property be awarded to him, for attorney's fees, and for costs.

The primary focus of the proceedings that followed in the trial court concerned the designation of the children's primary residential parent, the parenting schedule, and Mother's request for alimony. After hearings in November 2013, by order entered January 6, 2014, the trial court awarded Father a divorce on the grounds of inappropriate marital conduct and adultery. The trial court designated Father primary residential parent of the parties' three minor children, adopted his proposed permanent parenting plan, and lifted a June 2012 no-contact order preventing Mother's paramour, Sharon "Deanie" Richardson ("Ms. Richardson") from having contact with the parties' children. The trial court ruled, however:

the Permanent Parenting Plan shall include a paramour provision stating that neither party may have an overnight guest at their residence with whom they have any type of physical or romantic relationship, other than with someone to whom they are legally married as recognized by Tennessee law while they have any of the parties' minor children at their respective homes[.]

The trial court also affirmed and incorporated into the final decree of divorce an agreed no-contact order confirming there should be no contact between the parties' three minor children and Clyde W. Richardson ("Mr. Richardson"), Ms. Richardson's father, who allegedly abused Ms. Richardson when she was a child.

The trial court determined that, "due to the economic disparity between Father and Mother, " Mother was entitled to a downward deviation in her child support obligation, which it reduced to $0 for an eighteen month period to begin on December 1, 2013. The trial court ordered that after the expiration of the eighteen-month period Mother would pay child support to Father based on the parties' income. The trial court declined to award alimony to Mother upon finding that Father does not have the ability to pay alimony and that, because Mother was no longer homeschooling the parties' children, her "impediment to earning an income" was removed. The trial court also based its determination to deny alimony on the degree of fault it assigned to Mother. It approved the property division established by the parties' martial dissolution agreement ("MDA"); denied the parties' requests for attorneys' fees or discretionary costs; and divided the costs equally between them.

In February 2014, Mother filed a motion to alter or amend the final decree of divorce pursuant to Rule 59 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure. In her motion, Mother asserted that the trial court erred in naming Father primary residential parent and that it was in the best interests of the children to designate her as primary residential parent; that the reduction of her parenting time was not in the children's best interests; that removing the two youngest children from homeschooling and placing them in public school was not in their best interests; that the "paramour provision [was] one-sided" and in violation of her constitutional rights; and that the trial court erred by failing to award her alimony.

The trial court heard Mother's motion in April 2014 and partially granted it by order entered May 19, 2014. In its May order, the trial court amended the paramour provision to apply only to Ms. Richardson "[a]fter careful consideration of [Ms. Richardson's] mental stability[] and potential effect upon the children[.]" The trial court ruled that Ms. Richardson could "not be present overnight during the Mother's parenting time, " but that she "may be present at any other times and may interact with the children at other times under the direct and present supervision of the Mother." The trial court otherwise affirmed its previous judgment which included designating ...

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