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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Mar 18, 2013

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Franz F. Springmann, Sr., Sevierville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ashlyn Cooper.

Attorneys 2:

Felisha B. White, Seymour, Tennessee, for the appellee, David D. Clark, Jr.

Judge(s): SWINEY

This appeal arises from a dispute involving custody of a child. David D. Clark, Jr. (“Father”) and Ashlyn Cooper (“Mother”) voluntarily gave custody of their minor child (“the Child”) to the Child’s paternal grandparents. Mother later sought to alter custody of the Child through the Juvenile Court for Jefferson County (“the Juvenile Court”). The Juvenile Court denied Mother’s motions. Mother filed a motion for a new hearing, which also was denied. The Juvenile Court, when denying Mother’s motion for a new hearing, described the matter as a dependency case despite earlier classifying it as a custody case. Mother appealed to the Circuit Court for Jefferson County (“the Trial Court”), which denied Mother’s appeal. The Trial Court held that the action was, in fact, a custody matter, and therefore, Mother’s appeal from Juvenile Court, if any, should have been to the Tennessee Court of Appeals. Mother appeals. We hold that, while the Trial Court correctly held that this was a custody matter and that it therefore lacked subject matter jurisdiction to hear Mother’s appeal, it should have transferred her appeal to this Court rather than simply deny the appeal.