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Johnson v. Dominick

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

November 16, 2017

LARONDA F. JOHNSON
v.
BARRY DOMINICK

          Assigned on Briefs October 2, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Montgomery County No. 63CC1-2015-CV-879 Ross H. Hicks, Judge

         This is an appeal from the trial court's order concerning retroactive child support. Because the trial court's order lacks the findings of facts and conclusions of law required under Tennessee Code Annotated Section 36-2-311(a)(11), we vacate the order as to retroactive child support. The order is otherwise affirmed.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the trial court is Affirmed in Part; Vacated in Part, and Remanded.

          LaRonda F. Johnson, New Market, Alabama, pro se.

          Jacob P. Mathis, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Barry Dominick.

          Kenny Armstrong, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Thomas R. Frierson, II and W. Neal McBrayer, JJ., joined.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION [1]

          KENNY ARMSTRONG, JUDGE.

         The minor child ("the Child"), at issue in this case, was born in December of 2000 to Appellant LaRonda F. Johnson ("Mother") and Appellee Barry Dominick ("Father"), who were not married. The facts are disputed as to whether Mother notified Father about the Child before the Petition to Establish Parentage was filed. Mother currently resides in Alabama with the Child, and Father currently resides in Tennessee.

         On April 29, 2015, the Child Support Office for Tennessee ("the State"), ex rel. Mother, filed a Petition to Establish Parentage against Father. The State's petition was heard by the Magistrate on March 15, 2016. Mother and Father both testified at trial. In her Findings and Recommendations, the Magistrate established Father's paternity and, inter alia, awarded Mother a $34, 920.00 judgment against Father for 60 months of retroactive child support. Father filed a Motion for Rehearing in the Circuit Court ("trial court"). The de novo hearing was held on July 8, 2016. As is relevant to this appeal, by order of July 12, 2016, the trial court ordered Father to pay retroactive child support dating back to May 1, 2015, the first day of the month following the filing of the Petition to Establish Parentage. The trial court also credited Father with $1, 264.00 for payments toward his child support arrears and entered judgment in the amount of $3, 974.00 for retroactive child support.[2] Mother appeals.

         The parties raise two issues, which we restate as follows:

1. Whether the trial court erred when it ordered Father to pay retroactive child support from the date of the filing of the Petition to Establish Parentage instead of from the date of the Child's birth?
2. Whether Father proved, by clear and convincing evidence, that a deviation from the child support guidelines for the purpose of determining retroactive child ...

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