STATE EX REL. SCHRITA O.
Assigned on Briefs October 2, 2017
from the Juvenile Court for Shelby County No. Z4680 Dan H.
an appeal from the juvenile court's order establishing
paternity and retroactive child support, for a child who was
born in 1996 and reached majority during the course of these
proceedings. In 2014, with the assistance of a Tennessee
Department of Human Services Title IV-D Staff Attorney, the
child's mother filed a UIFSA petition in the Juvenile
Court of Shelby County to establish paternity and an initial
child support order and to recover retroactive child support
for her son. Genetic testing confirmed Father's
parentage, and the trial court ordered Father to pay
retroactive child support in the amount of $127, 530.00.
Father timely appealed. For the following reasons, we affirm
in part and vacate in part.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Juvenile
Court Affirmed in Part, Vacated in Part and Remanded
R. Huffman, Covington, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert
Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter; and
Alexander S. Rieger, Deputy Attorney General, for appellees,
Schrita O. and State of Tennessee.
B. Goldin, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which
John W. McClarty, J., joined. Frank G. Clement, Jr., P.J.,
M.S., concurring in part and dissenting in part.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
2014, Schrita O. ("Mother, " or
"Appellee"), a resident of Mississippi, initiated
these proceedings in accordance with the Uniform Interstate
Family Support Act ("UIFSA") to establish paternity
and an initial child support order and to recover retroactive
child support for her child, Shamar O., born November 18,
1996. Mother's petition indicated that Robert T.
("Father, " or "Appellant") was Shamar
O.'s putative Father, and that she was Shamar O.'s
biological mother and sole physical caretaker. Attached as an
exhibit to Mother's petition is a "Decree Appointing
General Guardian and Granting Letters of Guardianship"
from the Chancery Court of Hinds County, Mississippi that
awarded guardianship of Shamar O. to his maternal grandfather
("Grandfather") Luster O., Jr. shortly after his
birth with both parents' consent.
the assistance of a Title IV-D attorney,  Mother filed a
petition to establish paternity and support for Shamar O. in
the Juvenile Court of Shelby County. The juvenile court
ordered Father to submit to genetic testing, and the test
revealed a 99.99% statistical probability that Father was
Shamar O.'s biological father.
January 25, 2016, after several continuances, including a
continuance to allow Father's attorneys to conduct
discovery, a hearing on the petition was held before a
Magistrate of the Juvenile Court. In written findings entered
on February 24, 2016, the Magistrate found that Father had an
obligation to support the child and ordered Father to pay
prospective child support in the amount of $550.00 a month
and retroactive child support of $9, 900.00. Father timely
filed a request for rehearing before the presiding juvenile
November 16, 2016, a hearing was conducted before a Special
Judge of the Juvenile Court who had been appointed by the
Juvenile Court Judge to hear the case. While both parents
testified, they offered conflicting testimony regarding
whether Grandfather or Mother served as Shamar O.'s
physical custodian during his childhood. However, the
testimony is undisputed that Father never had visitation with
or provided monetary support for Shamar O. to either Mother
or Grandfather. On November 28, 2016, the juvenile court
entered a final order setting aside the Magistrate's
order. In its order, the juvenile court specifically found
Father to be "the father of the child" and ordered
Father to pay, inter alia,  $127, 530.00 in retroactive
timely appealed the retroactive child support award.
raises the general issue of whether the trial court erred in
setting child support pursuant to the UIFSA. However, we
perceive that Father raises the following six issues, which
we have reordered and reworded as follows:
I. Whether the juvenile court had subject-matter jurisdiction
to establish Shamar O.'s paternity and enter an initial
II. Whether the juvenile court's order lacks sufficient
findings of fact and conclusions of law to support its
finding that Mother was Shamar O.'s physical custodian or
III. Whether the evidence preponderates against the juvenile
court's finding that Mother was the child's physical
custodian or caretaker.
IV. Whether Mother lacked standing to petition the juvenile
court to establish paternity and set initial support for
V. Whether the case should be dismissed because Grandfather
was not joined as a party.
VI. Whether the trial court abused its discretion in
calculating the parties' parenting time on the child
appeal from a bench trial, we review the trial court's
factual findings de novo upon the record. Tenn. R.
App. P. 13(d). We presume that the factual findings of the
trial court are correct, unless the evidence preponderates
otherwise. Id. However, we review questions of law
de novo, with no presumption of ...