Assigned on Briefs March 1, 2019
from the Probate and Family Court for Cumberland County No.
2018-PF-6246 Larry M. Warner, Judge.
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.
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
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,
CHARLES D. SUSANO, JR., JUDGE.
support of his Rule 60.02 motion,  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
is no transcript of the hearing. Wife does not deny or
contradict husband's assertions that the trial court
heard no proof at the ...