Assigned on Briefs August 1, 2019
from the Juvenile Court for Montgomery County No. 17-JV-1085
Timothy K. Barnes, Judge.
appeal results from a custody action. A Missouri court issued
an initial custody decision providing Cherita L.
("Mother") with primary custody of Omari T.
("the Child"). Both parents and the Child later
moved out of that state. Both Mother and the Child relocated
to Tennessee. The father, Otis T. ("Father"),
resided in Tennessee for a time but more recently had been
living and working in Germany. In response to a petition to
domesticate the foreign decree and modify custody, the
Juvenile Court for Montgomery County ("Juvenile
Court") subsequently entered in July 2017 an
"agreed order" reflecting that the parties resided
in Tennessee and approving an agreed parenting plan
designating Father as the primary residential parent of the
child. The agreed order was signed only by the Juvenile Court
Judge and Father's counsel. Mother's signature was
not included on the agreed order nor was a certificate of
service included showing that the order was provided to
Mother. Approximately a year later, Father filed a contempt
petition when Mother refused to return the Child to
Father's custody. In response, Mother filed a motion to
set aside the agreed order modifying custody, pursuant to
Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 60.02(3), (4), and (5). The
Juvenile Court denied Mother's Rule 60.02 motion and
determined that Mother had violated the Juvenile Court's
July 2017 order and held Mother in contempt. We hold that the
Juvenile Court's July 2017 order had no effective entry
date pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 58, and
Mother, therefore, could not have been in contempt of that
order. We affirm the Juvenile Court's order transferring
venue to Shelby County, and we vacate the July 2017 order and
all other subsequent orders by the Juvenile Court concerning
Father's contempt petition.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Juvenile
Court Affirmed, in Part, and Vacated, in Part; Case
Sanders, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Cherita L.
P. Mathis, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Otis T.
Michael Swiney, C.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which Frank G. Clement, Jr., P.J., M.S., and Kenny W.
Armstrong, J., joined.
MICHAEL SWINEY, CHIEF JUDGE.
2011, Father and Mother lived in Missouri. The parties had
one child, the Child, during their relationship. In January
2011, the 19th Judicial Circuit Court of Cole County,
Missouri ("Missouri Court") entered an order
regarding custody and child support. The Missouri Court
ordered that the parents would have joint legal and physical
custody of the Child. Mother was to have primary physical
custody of the Child during the school year. Father was to
have exclusive physical custody of the Child for ten weeks
each summer, beginning on June 1st and ending on August 1st.
The Juvenile Court ordered, in pertinent part, that Father
was to pay to Mother $484 per month in child support for the
Child and provide health insurance for the Child.
their appellate briefs, both parties agree that Mother and
the Child left Missouri in 2012 and relocated to Memphis,
Tennessee. Father states in his brief that he had been living
in Clarksville, Tennessee for more than six months as of June
2014. The record is unclear as to exactly when Father left
filed a petition to modify child support in the Juvenile
Court in June 2014. A hearing was scheduled before the
Juvenile Court in October 2014. However, the Juvenile Court
entered an agreed order in September 2014, modifying
Father's child support obligation to $322 per month.
Father's attorney and Mother, as a pro se litigant,
signed the agreed order.
undisputed that none of the parties lived in Missouri in July
2017. At the time, Father was living in Germany, and Mother
was living in Memphis, Tennessee. On July 25, 2017, Father
filed a petition in the Juvenile Court to domesticate the
foreign decree from the Missouri Court and to modify custody.
The Child was eight years old at that time. Also on July 25,
2017, the Juvenile Court entered an agreed order, which
began: "Comes now the parties, as evidenced by their
signatures on the attached Parenting Plan, and would agree as
follows . . . ." The order identified Father as residing
in Clarksville, Tennessee and Mother residing in Memphis,
Tennessee. The agreed order stated that the parties agreed
that a material change in circumstances had occurred since
entry of the Missouri Court's custody order, that it was
in the Child's best interest for Father to be designated
as primary residential parent, that the parties had entered
into a permanent parenting plan reflecting the parties'
agreement, and that the agreed parenting plan is in the
Child's best interest. Based on the apparent agreement of
the parties as reflected in the order, the Juvenile Court
approved the parties' agreed parenting plan modification.
The agreed order was signed by the Juvenile Court Judge and
Father's attorney. The agreed order was not signed by the
parties and did not include a certificate of service.
attached parenting plan order is specified as
"Agreed" and lists the State of Tennessee and the
Montgomery County Juvenile Court at the top of the document.
The plan states that it modifies an existing order dated
January 2011. In this new plan, Father is designated as the
primary residential parent with 285 days to Father and 80
days to Mother. The plan also states that Mother will have
the Child each year from June 1st to August 1st. As to child
support, the parenting plan states that neither parent will
pay child support to the other due to the substantial
transportation costs that will accompany the Child residing
overseas with Father. Mother signed the parenting plan on July
19, 2017. Father did not ...