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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Jan 24, 2014

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Ricky A.W. Curtis, Blountville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Christopher Vance Smalling.

Attorneys 2:

Sarah Rebecca Smalling, pro se appellee.

Judge(s): SWINEY

We granted Christopher Vance Smalling’s (“Husband”) application for extraordinary appeal pursuant to Tenn. R. App. P. 10 to consider issues related to his suit for divorce from his wife Sarah Rebecca Smalling (“Wife”). This divorce case reached an unexpected impasse when the Chancery Court for Sullivan County (“the Trial Court”) refused to set a hearing in the matter until a Temporary Parenting Plan concerning the parties’ minor child was entered. Husband appeals, arguing both that he had complied with local rules by submitting a suitable Temporary Parenting Plan and that state law does not require the filing of a Temporary Parenting Plan in circumstances like those of this case. We hold that the local rules are in conflict with Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-6-403 because they require the filing of a written Temporary Parenting Plan even though the statute specifically states this is not required if the parties agree, as in this case, to a Temporary Parenting Plan. We also hold that even if we err in our judgment that Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-6-403 conflicts with and overrides the local rules, Husband complied with the local rules by submitting a Temporary Parenting Plan. We reverse the Trial Court.