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Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Dec 10, 2012

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Brad W. Hornsby and Heather G. Parker, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Donna Thorn.

Attorneys 2:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr. Attorney General and Reporter, William E. Young, Solicitor General, and Warren Jasper, Senior Counsel, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, State of Tennessee, Department of Human Resources.

Judge(s): CLEMENT

This is a proceeding to establish the arrearage for child support owed by the father to the mother of their minor child. The genesis of this matter was in 1993, when Mother filed a petition to establish paternity and set support. The Department of Human Services, Child Support Services intervened on behalf of Mother, paternity was established and child support was set. Over the next two decades Father was habitually delinquent in paying child support and Mother obtained judgements from time to time for arrearages. The most recent petition to establish the arrearage was assigned to a Child Support Magistrate in Dickson County. Following a hearing in March 2012, the magistrate ruled that Father’s child support arrearage principal was $17,894.26, and that the interest on the principal, some of which had been accruing since the entry of a 1994 judgment, totaled $54,726.64. Judgment in favor of Mother was awarded by the magistrate in the gross amount of $72,620.90. Although Mother had independent counsel representing her before the magistrate, the Department appealed the magistrate’s order, purportedly on behalf of Mother but over Mother’s objection and despite the fact none of the proceeds were owed to the Department. The juvenile court reduced the total award to $26,937.36. Mother filed this appeal. We have determined that Mother was not aggrieved by the magistrate’s decision; thus, the Department could not appeal, on behalf of Mother, a wholly favorable decision. Because the case was never properly before the juvenile court, we vacate the judgment of the juvenile court and remand with instructions to reinstate the $72,620.90 judgment awarded by the magistrate.