Session: July 19, 2019
from the Juvenile Court for Cumberland County No.
2017-JV-6616 Larry M. Warner, Judge
action involves the trial court's establishment of a
permanent parenting plan for a child born to the unmarried
parties. Allan Bradley Flynn (father) appeals the trial
court's decision ordering a permanent parenting plan
giving him less than 80 days per year parenting time. Megan
Marie Stephenson (mother) appeals the court's decision to
change the child's surname to Flynn. The trial court made
no findings of fact supporting its ordered parenting plan,
which it referenced as providing "standard
visitation." The trial court made no reference to the
governing statute, Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-106 (2017),
nor any of the factors provided in the statute. We vacate the
trial court's judgment and remand with instructions to
make sufficient findings of fact and conclusions of law as
required by Tenn. R. Civ. P. 52.01. We hold that father
failed to carry his burden of proving that a name change will
further the best interest of the child, and consequently we
reverse the trial court's judgment ordering the
child's name changed.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Juvenile
Court Vacated in Part and Reversed in Part; Case
F. Hicks and Blake J. Fitzpatrick, Cookeville, Tennessee, for
the appellant, Allan Bradley Flynn.
Vanessa Samano, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Megan
Charles D. Susano, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the
court, in which D. Michael Swiney, C.J., and John W.
McClarty, J., joined.
CHARLES D. SUSANO, JR., JUDGE
child was born on July 23, 2017. Father, on September 8,
2017, filed this action petitioning the trial court to grant
him "joint and equal parenting time." He filed a
proposed plan giving each parent 182.5 days of parenting time
per year. The parties entered a mediated agreement
establishing a temporary parenting schedule as follows:
The parties agree that father shall have the child every
Friday from 3:00pm to Saturday at 3:00pm, every other Sunday
from 8:00am to 3:30pm, Sunday visits will begin Sunday,
February 11, 2018 and every Wednesday from 3:00pm to 7:00pm,
for the next eight (8) weeks or until the final hearing is
set, which ever shall occur first.
Current support is being set at $259.00 per month[.] [T]his
is based on minimum wage being imputed for both parents and
father having 80 days per year and mother having 285 days per
On May 7, 2018, father filed a "motion for increased
parenting time pending litigation." He asserted, in
pertinent part, as follows:
[Father] would show that he has attend[ed] all the visits and
the visits have gone well with the child.
The mediated agreement was entered with the understanding
that a final hearing would be held soon thereafter.
The mother and her counsel refuse to cooperate in responding
to multiple requests regarding extended parenting time.
That it is in the best interest of the minor child to have
increased time with [father] during the formative months to
build a strong parent-child bond.
(Numbering in original omitted).
trial court entered an order on July 18, 2018, stating that
father "shall receive the standing standard parenting
time of this Court and as further stated in the temporary
parenting plan attached to this Order." The temporary
parenting plan provides father parenting time from Friday at
6:00 pm until Sunday at 6:00 pm every other week and every
Wednesday afternoon from 3:30 pm until 7:00 pm. It further
provides for "two non-consecutive weeks in summer"
filed a response to father's petition for parenting time
on December 3, 2018. She attached another proposed parenting
plan that states she would have 265 days of parenting time,
and father 100 days. A brief trial took place four days
later. Only father testified. Although mother was present
with her attorney, she was not called to testify. Father
testified that he was renting a house with two bedrooms and
two bathrooms, suitable for the child's visitation. He is
self-employed, working as partners with his father installing
fireplaces. Father said that their business was just recently
started, so they were trying to get established and he was
living primarily off of his savings at the time of the
hearing. He testified at one point that he "had no
concerns" with mother, but later stated that he was
concerned that she had issues with depression and her
finances. Father also stated a concern that mother was living
with her parents and her autistic brother, whom father
described as "violent." There was no other evidence
presented concerning mother's living arrangements.
Apparently no discovery was conducted, for there are no
discovery documents in the record. The transcript of
father's testimony is only 37 pages long.
trial court's two-page final order states only:
"[t]he Court found that it is in the best interests of
the child to set a visitation schedule for the Father
pursuant to the Court's Standard Visitation Order."
There are no other findings of fact. The order incorporates
by reference a permanent parenting plan, which recites that
mother shall have 305 days per year of parenting time and
father 60 days. It gives father time with the child every
other weekend from Friday at 5:00 pm until Sunday at 5:00 pm,
and every Wednesday from 5:00 to 7:00 pm. Father was granted
two non-consecutive weeks of summer vacation, and major
holidays were split fairly evenly. Regarding winter vacation,
the parenting plan also provides:
The mother shall have the child for the first period from the
day and time school is dismissed until December 25th at Noon
(12:00 p.m.) in even-numbered years. The [father] will have
the child or children for the second period from the day and
time indicated above until Noon (12:00 p.m.) on New
Year's Day. The parties shall alternate the first and
second periods each year.
it is impossible to calculate with complete precision the
number of days the more specific provisions of the parenting
plan provides each parent, because, among other things, the
child is not of school age yet, it appears that father has
approximately 77 days per year, notwithstanding the
plan's general provision of 60 days to father. No
explanation is provided for this discrepancy. There is also
no explanation in the record for why the trial court awarded
father 40 days less than that provided in mother's own
proposed parenting plan filed four days before trial. At
father's request and over mother's objection, the
trial court ordered the child's surname to be changed to
Flynn. Father timely filed a notice of appeal.
raises the ...