STACY CHRISTINA KNELLINGER v. MARK STEVEN KNELLINGER AND BECKI KNELLINGER

In this post-divorce action, Father filed two petitions asserting several counts of criminal contempt against Mother based on alleged violations of the Parenting Plan. Father also petitioned the court to modify the Parenting Plan to name him the primary residential parent and grant him sole decision-making authority over the children’s educations, non-emergency healthcare, and extracurricular activities. Mother then filed a petition seeking to permanently enjoin Father’s new wife (“Step-mother”) from participating in certain activities with the children, such as signing their school report cards, volunteering at the school, and sending home notes in their lunch boxes. After a three-day hearing, the trial court found Mother guilty on three counts of criminal contempt, and assessed a $150 fine (fifty dollars per count), which the court required her to pay toward counseling with Father. The trial court denied Father’s Petition to Modify the Parenting Plan, finding there was no material change of circumstances affecting the children’s interest, a finding which Father does not appeal. The trial court also denied Mother’s petition for a permanent injunction against Step-mother, finding it was unnecessary. Both parties were required to pay their own attorney’s fees. We affirm the trial court’s decision to deny Mother’s request for a permanent restraining order against Step-mother. However, we have determined the trial court erred in finding Mother guilty of criminal contempt, and we reverse all three convictions. Finally, we find Mother is entitled to her reasonable and necessary attorney’s fees incurred in the trial court in defense of Father’s Petition to Modify the Parenting Plan, pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-5-103(c), and remand for a determination and award thereof.

Attorney 1: 

Robert E. Lee Davies, Joshua Lee Rogers, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Stacy Christina Knellinger.

Attorney 2: 

Elizabeth A. Garrett, Jessica Hooper, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Mark Steven Knellinger and Becki Knellinger.

Judge: 
CLEMENT
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