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In re Mattie H.

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

April 30, 2015

IN RE MATTIE H.

Session Date April 08, 2015

Appeal from the Juvenile Court for Coffee County No. 14J0559 Jere M. Ledsinger, Judge

The trial court entered an order establishing paternity and setting child support for a non-marital child. The trial court also granted J. W. B.' s (hereinafter "Father")[1] oral motion to change the child's surname from T. H.' s (hereinafter "Mother") to Father's. Mother appeals only the order changing the child's surname. We reverse.

Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Juvenile Court Reversed and Remanded

Eric J. Burch, Manchester, Tennessee, for the appellant, T. H.

Edward H. North, Manchester, Tennessee, for the appellee, J. W. B.

Arnold B. Goldin, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Brandon O. Gibson, J., and Kenny Armstrong, J., joined.

MEMORANDUM OPINION [2]

ARNOLD B. GOLDIN, JUDGE

This action was commenced in the Juvenile Court of Coffee County on April 28, 2014, when the State of Tennessee filed a petition on behalf of Mother to establish paternity of Mattie H., born December 19, 2013. In her petition, Mother prayed for the court to establish paternity and for an order establishing child support and retroactive child support. Following a hearing on June 18, 2014, the trial court entered an agreed order on June 26, 2014, establishing paternity, setting Father's child support obligation at $238.00 per month, and denying an award of retroactive child support.[3] Also, at the June 18 hearing, Father made an oral motion to change Mattie's surname from Mother's surname to Father's. On July 10, 2014, the trial court entered an order granting Father's oral motion. In its order the trial court found that it was in the child's best interest to have the father's last name for the following reasons: a) The father has had substantial contact (10 times) during the child's young life, b) The father has on several occasions offered financial assistance to the child's mother even though he has not paid child support, c) The child's relationship with both parents will be enhanced and improved, and d) Having the father's last name will avoid harassment by future classmates and friends of the child's and the child will not be embarrassed by having the mother's last name. Mother filed a notice of appeal the same day.

Father subsequently filed a motion for additional findings of fact in support of the trial court's judgment that changing Mattie's surname was in her best interest. Following a hearing on August 19, 2014, the trial court entered an agreed order finding that additional facts were established by the testimony of the parties and considered by the Court, as follows: 1) it was important to change the child's name now rather than later in life, 2) Mother stated that she wanted Mattie's surname to remain the same as Mother's, 3) the same degree of community respect is associated with Mother's and Father's surnames. The trial court entered final judgment in the matter on August 25, 2014.

Issue Presented

The sole issue presented by Mother for our review is whether the trial court erred by ordering Mattie's surname to be changed from Mother's to Father's.

Father raises the additional issue of whether Mother's statement of the evidence should be excluded for failure to comply with Rule 24(c) of the ...


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