Assigned on Briefs February 2, 2017
Appeal from the Juvenile Court for Davidson County No.
2015-2419, PT 206322 Jennifer N. Wade, Special Judge
appeals an order of the trial court setting current child
support, awarding retroactive child support, and changing the
child's last name to a hyphenated name comprised of
Father and Mother's surnames. Discerning no error, we
affirm the judgment of the trial court.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Juvenile
Court Affirmed and Remanded
Jordan Gross, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant,
Brandon O. Gibson, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which Richard H. Dinkins and Thomas R. Frierson, II, JJ.,
BRANDON O. GIBSON, JUDGE
Facts & Procedural History
gave birth to Jalen O-H. (the "Child") on September
25, 2014. Father was not present for the birth of the Child
and did not sign the birth certificate. However, on September
26, 2014, Father conducted a DNA test that ultimately
confirmed Father was the biological father of the Child.
Mother and Father have never been married, nor have they
lived in the same household. Father visited the Child on a
regular basis for the first three or four months of the
Child's life but was not allowed to take the Child away
from Mother, who was breastfeeding the Child at the time.
Beginning in January 2015, Father exercised more visitation,
including overnight visitations with the Child.
2015, Mother was hospitalized, and Father took custody of the
Child. Shortly thereafter, Father filed the lawsuit at hand
to establish parentage and for emergency placement of the
Child with him. Magistrate Michael O'Neil granted the
emergency placement with Father on May 20, 2015. On May 28,
2015, the magistrate held a hearing with both Mother and
Father present and ordered that the parties would each
exercise a fairly equal amount of parenting time. On October
21, 2015, the court entered a custody order designating
Mother as the primary residential parent, Father as the
alternate residential parent, and allowing Father 85 days of
visitation per year. At that time, Father was ordered to pay
$639 in child support based on an income of $2, 470.00 per
month. Father was dissatisfied with this ruling and appealed
the matter to the juvenile court.
juvenile court heard Father's appeal on January 12, 2016,
and issued a written order of parentage and support on
February 8, 2016. In this order, the juvenile court concluded
that Mother should remain the primary residential parent but
that Father should be granted additional parenting time. At
that time, Mother was given 224 days of parenting time, and
Father was given 141 days of parenting time. Further, the
February 8, 2016 order stated that the "issues of
retroactive support which the Mother may raise, and the
change of the child's name, which Father may raise, are
reserved until the next hearing."
two final issues were heard on May 12, 2016 before a special
judge, who was sitting as juvenile court judge by
designation. On June 27, 2016, the court entered a written
order setting forth findings of fact and conclusions of law.
In this order, the court ordered Father to pay Mother
retroactive child support and changed the Child's name to
a hyphenated version of Father and Mother's surnames.
Father timely filed a notice of appeal.
presents the following issues for review on appeal, which we
1. Whether the trial court erred in assessing retroactive
child support to the date of the Child's birth?
2. If retroactive child support is appropriate, whether the
trial court erred in the calculation of the amount of
retroactive support due by using incorrect income figures and
assigning different support amounts for different periods of
3. Whether the trial court erred in setting an amount of
current child support that was in conflict with an existing
order of support set forth in a final judgment?
4. Whether the trial court erred in changing the Child's
last name to a hyphenated name that includes the surnames of
both Mother and Father rather than only the name of the
Standard of Review
nonjury cases, this Court's review is de novo,
with a presumption of correctness as to the trial court's
factual determinations, unless the evidence preponderates
against those findings. Tenn. R. App. P. 13(d); Union
Carbide Corp. v. Huddleston, 854 S.W.2d 87, 91 (Tenn.
1993). The trial court's conclusions of law, however, are
afforded no such presumption. Campbell v. Florida
Steel, 919 S.W.2d 26, 35 (Tenn.1996). This Court has set
forth the following standard of review specifically for child
[T]he adoption of the Child Support Guidelines has limited
the courts' discretion substantially, and decisions
regarding child support must be made within the strictures of
the Child Support Guidelines.
. . . .
Because child support decisions retain an element of
discretion, we review them using the deferential "abuse
of discretion" standard. This standard is a
review-constraining standard of review that calls for less
intense appellate review and, therefore, less likelihood that
the trial court's decision will be reversed. Appellate
courts do not have the latitude to substitute their
discretion for that of the trial court. Thus, a trial
court's discretionary decision will be upheld as long as
it is not clearly unreasonable, and reasonable minds can
disagree about its correctness. Discretionary decisions must,
however, take the applicable law and the relevant facts into
Richardson v. Spanos, 189 S.W.3d 720, 725 (Tenn. Ct.
App. 2005) (internal citations omitted).