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Stancil v. Stancil

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

April 10, 2018

LARA C. STANCIL
v.
TODD A. STANCIL

          Session February 5, 2018

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Williamson County No. 2014-382 Michael Binkley, Judge.

         In this post-divorce dispute, Mother filed a petition to modify parenting time and obtained an ex parte restraining order based upon Father's physical altercation with his wife during parenting time with the parties' children. After a hearing in December 2015, the trial court suspended Father's parenting time until he took steps to address his anger management issues. At a review hearing in August 2016, the trial court determined that the suspension of Father's parenting time was no longer in the best interest of the children and adopted the recommendations of Father's psychologist concerning the reintegration of Father into the lives of the children. The trial court subsequently awarded Mother her attorney fees and discretionary costs incurred throughout the case. On appeal, Father asserts that he should have been awarded his attorney fees for the period of time after the December 2015 hearing and that the trial court erred in awarding Mother her discretionary costs for the same period. Both parties seek their attorney fees on appeal. We affirm the trial court's award of attorney fees in full. With respect to discretionary costs, we affirm the trial court's award with the exception of the costs of preparation and travel, which are not authorized by Tenn. R. Civ. P. 54.04. Each party shall pay his or her own attorney fees and costs on appeal.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed in Part, Reversed in Part and Remanded

          Phillip R. Newman, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Todd A. Stancil.

          Venus Brannan Niner and Ronda Y. Spurlock, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellee, Lara C. Stancil.

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

          OPINION

          ANDY D. BENNETT, JUDGE.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         Lara C. Stancil ("Mother") and Todd A. Stancil ("Father") were divorced in Alabama in 2008 and, at that time, they had two minor children, Katheryn (Katy), born in April 1999, and Stephen, born in August 2001. In accordance with the parties' settlement agreement, which was incorporated into the divorce decree, Mother was the primary residential parent for the two children. Mother eventually moved with the children to Brentwood, Tennessee, and the Alabama divorce decree was registered in Williamson County in March 2015. Father moved to Clarksville, Tennessee.

         During Father's parenting time with the parties' daughter in April 2014, he had an altercation with Katy. Mother filed a petition for dependency and neglect in the juvenile court in Williamson County based upon the altercation between Father and Katy. Father agreed to limited parenting time and began counseling with the children, and Mother participated in the counseling, too. In September 2014, the court entered an agreed order dismissing the petition and reinstating Father's original parenting schedule with the children.

         Father moved to Chattanooga in July 2015. During their first weekend with Father in Chattanooga, the children witnessed a physical altercation between Father and his wife. Upset by this episode, the children left Father's house and called Mother and the police. Father was arrested and charged with domestic assault. (The charges were ultimately dismissed and expunged.) After this incident, Father did not exercise his parenting time for several weeks.

         When Father notified Mother of his desire to resume his parenting time with the children in Chattanooga, Mother responded by requesting and obtaining an ex parte restraining order and filing a petition to modify parenting time. After a hearing on December 29, 2015, the trial court suspended Father's parenting time and, in an order entered on February 5, 2016, set a review date for March 4, 2016, at which time the court would give Father "an opportunity to prove that he is capable of dealing with his anger management issues and to get to a point where he can have a real relationship with at least his son."

         In January 2016, Father began seeing a psychologist, David Solovey, Ph.D. On July 22, 2016, Father filed a motion to reestablish parenting time with the children along with a progress report from Dr. Solovey. Mother opposed Father's motion. The trial court reset the trial for August ...


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