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Sardon v. Sardon

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

June 13, 2017


          Session Date: June 6, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Davidson County No. 06D1791 Phillip R. Robinson, Judge

         Post-divorce proceeding wherein Mother petitioned the court for a modification of the parenting plan and to increase Father's child support obligation; following a hearing, the court granted her petition. Father appeals the upward deviation to his basic support obligation to pay a portion of the children's extracurricular activities, the failure to give Father credit for additional funds he paid Mother each month, and the award of attorney's fees to Mother. Upon consideration of the record, we discern no error and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed.

          Jamaal L. Boykin, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Troy Eugene Sardon.

          Chandra N. T. Flint, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Sonya C. Franklin Sardon.

          Richard H. Dinkins, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Andy D. Bennett and W. Neal McBrayer, JJ., joined.



         Sonya Sardon ("Mother") and Troy Sardon ("Father") are parents of four children and were divorced by final decree on August 21, 2007. The decree incorporated the parties' Marital Dissolution Agreement and their agreed parenting plan, which designated Mother as primary residential parent and awarded her 245 days of parenting time per year. Father was awarded 120 days of parenting time, to be exercised every other weekend and each week during a Wednesday overnight visit. The plan vested decision-making authority for non-emergency health care and extracurricular activities in both parties but gave Mother sole authority to make educational and religious upbringing decisions. Father was required to maintain health insurance on the children and to pay $2, 324.00 per month in child support. In June 2010, the court entered an order modifying the parenting plan to remove the overnight portion of the Wednesday evening visitation while school was in session, to give Father parenting time every other weekend from 6 p.m. Friday until Monday morning, and to reduce Father's support obligation to $1, 632.00 per month.

         On March 4, 2014, Mother filed a petition to modify the parenting plan based upon a material change in circumstances. She alleged that her income had changed, that she had access to health insurance for the children, and that Father had not been providing health insurance coverage for the children since 2010. She sought, inter alia, the following: that her proposed parenting plan be adopted;[1] that the court set child support consistent with the child support guidelines; that Father be jointly responsible for extracurricular expenses; that Father's child support payments be made through direct deposit; and that Father's parenting time be modified to accommodate the children's school schedules. After mediation was unsuccessful, Father answered the petition. The court ordered the parties to attend a judicial settlement conference, which was also unsuccessful.

         A hearing was held on June 16 and 19, 2015, at which Mother, Father, and Father's wife testified; the court entered an order on July 23, 2015, modifying Father's parenting time to accommodate the children's school schedules. The court calculated Father's basic child support obligation to be $1, 632.00 per month. The court applied an upward deviation of $160.00 per month for Father's share of extracurricular expenses, resulting in a total obligation of $1, 792.00 per month, retroactive to the date the petition was filed, to be paid through wage assignment. The court also required Father to provide medical insurance and, if available through his employer, vision, dental, and orthodontic coverage. The court ordered Father to reimburse Mother $4, 578.00 for amounts she paid for medical insurance for the children from June 2013 to December 2014 and awarded Mother $11, 500.00 for a portion of her attorney's fees.

         Father appeals, asserting that the court erred in three respects. Father contends that the court "misapplied" the child support regulations by ordering an upward deviation in his basic child support obligation to cover the costs of the children's extracurricular activities; he argues that these were not ongoing and that Mother incurred these expenses without consulting him. Father also argues that the court abused its discretion by not giving him credit for the $76.00 extra he paid in child support each month. In addition, Father argues that the court ordered him to pay Mother's attorney's fees because the case did not settle prior to trial and that this decision was "arbitrary and unreasonable."

         As an initial matter, we note that Father's brief fails to comply with Rule 27(a)(7) of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure, which requires all arguments in an appellant's brief to contain "appropriate reference to the record (which may be quoted verbatim) relied on." In addition, it fails to comply with Rule 6(a)(4) of the Rules of the Court of Appeals, which provides that the written argument with regard to each issue presented contain "[a] statement of each determinative fact relied upon with citation to the Record where evidence of each such fact may be found." Where these rules are disregarded, we are under no obligation to search the record in order to uncover evidence to support Father's contentions. See Long v. Long, 957 S.W.2d 825, 828 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1997) (holding that "where a party in its brief on appeal has advanced certain arguments or has set forth what he or she alleged to be facts without any citation to the record, this court is not under a duty to minutely search the record to verify these unsupported allegations") (citing Schoen v. J.C. Bradford and Co., 642 S.W.2d 420, 426 (Tenn. Ct. App.1982)). Indeed, Rule (6)(b) of the Court of Appeals Rules states:

(b) No complaint of or reliance upon action by the Trial Court will be considered on Appeal unless the argument thereon contains a specific reference to the page or pages of the Record where such action is recorded. No assertion of fact will be considered on Appeal unless the argument upon such assertion contains a ...

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