from the Juvenile Court for Montgomery County No.
MC-JV-PL-CV-14-2179 Kenneth R. Goble, Judge
appeal involves a father's petition to modify an existing
parenting plan to change the designation of primary
residential parent from the mother to the father. After a
hearing, the trial court agreed with the parties'
stipulation that a material change in circumstances had
occurred since the entry of the previous parenting plan due
to various difficulties experienced by the parties and their
lack of cooperation. The trial court concluded that it was in
the best interest of the child to designate the father as
primary residential parent. The trial court entered a
modified parenting plan and child support worksheets. The
mother appeals. We vacate and remand for further proceedings.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Juvenile
Court Vacated and Remanded
Elizabeth A. Fendley, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the
appellant, Sarah B. (now Sarah W.).
Reid Poland, III, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellee,
D. McGee, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which J.
Steven Stafford, P.J., W.S., and Kenny W. Armstrong, J.,
D. McGEE, JUDGE
Facts & Procedural History
was born to unmarried parents in April 2014. Shortly
thereafter, Aaron S. ("Father") filed a petition to
confirm parentage and establish a permanent parenting plan.
The child's mother, Sarah B. ("Mother"), agreed
that Father is the child's father. Father initially
sought equal parenting time, but before the issue of
parenting time was resolved, Father moved from Tennessee to
St. Paul, Minnesota, to live with his father and further his
education. In March 2016, the trial court entered an agreed
order naming Mother primary residential parent and granting
Father 74 days of parenting time per year.
months later, in December 2016, Father filed a petition to
modify the parenting plan, alleging that a material change in
circumstances had occurred due to Mother being unnecessarily
difficult and antagonistic. Father claimed that Mother was
impeding the bond between him and Makinna, and he asked the
court to designate him as primary residential parent.
and Mother attended mediation and agreed that a material
change in circumstances had occurred requiring modification
of the existing parenting plan. They could not agree as to
which parent should be designated the primary residential
parent, but they did agree on the parenting schedule that
they would follow once the trial court designated the primary
residential parent. They also agreed on the figures to be
used for each parent's income in the child support
trial court held a hearing on December 14, 2017, to consider
the disputed issue of which parent should be named the
primary residential parent. By that time, Makinna was three
years old. Mother was married and had another daughter, and
she was pregnant with a third child. Father was living with
his fiancée in Minnesota. The trial court heard
testimony from Father, Mother, Mother's husband, the
child's maternal grandmother, and the child's
paternal grandmother. The trial court also received exhibits
consisting of text messages between Mother and Father, and
the court viewed a video of an incident that occurred at a
custody exchange of the child.
conclusion of the testimony, the trial judge announced his
oral ruling in favor of Father. The trial court entered its
written order in April 2018. The trial court concluded that
it was in the best interest of Makinna to reside primarily
with Father in Minnesota, with Mother having parenting time
according to the schedule crafted by the parties at
mediation. The written order referenced an attached parenting
plan, but it was inadvertently omitted when the order was
1, 2018, the trial court entered an amended order noting that
its prior order failed to include the necessary parenting
plan and child support worksheet. The amended order had a
parenting plan and child support worksheet attached. The
parenting plan stated that Mother's child support
obligation from January to March 2018 (the three-month period
following the December 2017 hearing) was $248 per month.
However, the parenting plan stated that Mother's child
support obligation had increased to $403 per month beginning
April 1, 2018. It explained, "The daycare expense is a
recent development[.]" The attached child support
worksheet included an expense of $1, 009 per month for Father
for work-related childcare, which led to the increase in
Mother's child support obligation. Mother timely filed a
notice of appeal.
presents the following issues, which we have slightly
reworded, for review on appeal:
1. Whether the order of the trial court should be vacated for
failure to make sufficient findings of fact and conclusions
2. Whether the trial court provided only a pretextual
consideration of the best interest factors when designating
Father as ...