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Slagle v. Slagle

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

May 24, 2019

SUSAN LYNN SLAGLE
v.
ROBERT WAYNE SLAGLE

          Assigned on Briefs March 1, 2019

          Appeal from the Probate and Family Court for Cumberland County No. 2018-PF-6246 Larry M. Warner, Judge.

         Plaintiff Susan Lynn Slagle (Wife) filed this divorce action in May of 2018. Defendant Robert Wayne Slagle (Husband) did not file an answer or other responsive pleading. Wife moved for a default judgment. A hearing was set for August 2, 2018. Husband appeared pro se at the hearing, still having filed nothing with the trial court. The trial court, without hearing any proof, granted Wife a default judgment on the ground of inappropriate marital conduct. Shortly thereafter, the trial court entered its final judgment dividing the marital property. Husband filed a Tenn. R. Civ. P. 60.02(1) motion for relief, asking the trial court to set aside the judgment. The trial court denied Husband's motion. On appeal, we hold that Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-4-114 (2017) requires a trial court to hear proof of the facts alleged before granting a divorce on any ground other than irreconcilable differences, in the absence of a valid stipulation between the parties. Because the trial court did not in this case, we vacate the judgment and remand for a trial.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Probate and Family Court Vacated; Case Remanded.

          Cynthia Fields Davis, Crossville, Tennessee, for the appellant,

          Robert Wayne Slagle. Kevin R. Bryant, Crossville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Susan Lynn Slagle.

          Charles D. Susano, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which D. Michael Swiney, C.J., and Andy D. Bennett, J., joined.

          OPINION

          CHARLES D. SUSANO, JR., JUDGE.

         In support of his Rule 60.02 motion, [1] Husband submitted a one-page affidavit that states, in pertinent part, as follows:

That I appeared, pro se on August 2, 2018 for a hearing on the pending divorce action.
At said hearing on August 2, 2018, I was not allowed to state my position nor testify.
That neither I nor my wife were sworn in to testify during the hearing.

         There is no transcript of the hearing. Wife does not deny or contradict husband's assertions that the trial court heard no proof at the ...


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