THOMAS GOODMAN RUTHERFORD v. MELODEY JOICE LAWSON RUTHERFORD

With separate concurring and dissenting opinions.

Mother, who spent greater time with the parties’ minor child, notified Father via certified letter of her intent to relocate out of state. Thirty-three days later, Father filed a petition in opposition to the move. The trial court allowed Father to oppose relocation, despite his failure to formally oppose the move within thirty days, noting that Mother had learned of Father’s opposition within the thirty-day period and that she had not relocated until “well after” Father filed his petition.

In this statutory construction case, we conclude that Tennessee’s parental relocation statute, Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-6-108, mandates that a parent wishing to oppose relocation file a petition in opposition within thirty days of receipt of notice of the proposed relocation. If no written petition in opposition is timely filed, the parent proposing to relocate with the child shall be permitted to do so, notwithstanding the absence of harm or prejudice to the relocating parent due to the untimely petition. Because Father failed to file a written petition in opposition to Mother’s proposed relocation within thirty days of receipt of her certified letter, we find the trial court erred in conducting any further analysis pursuant to section 36-6-108. The decision of the trial court is reversed, and Mother is permitted to relocate to Omaha, Nebraska, with the minor child. Father’s request for appellate attorney fees is denied, and all remaining issues are deemed pretermitted.

 

Attorney 1: 

George Davis, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellant, Melodey Joice Lawson Rutherford

Attorney 2: 

Paul A. Rutherford, Wende J. Rutherford, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Thomas Goodman Rutherford

Judge: 
HIGHERS
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rutherfordt_050813.pdf139.1 KB
KIRBY concurring70.65 KB
STAFFORD dissenting114.15 KB
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