IN RE JACOB H. - Articles

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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Oct 29, 2014

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Joseph Y. Longmire, Jr., Hendersonville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Drena D.

Attorneys 2:

Gary Michael Williams, Hendersonville, Tennessee, for the appellee, James C.

Judge(s): CLEMENT

Mother of the parties’ only child filed this action to establish an arrearage judgment for child support owed by Father. At issue is the amount of unpaid child support for the period from April 1998 to September 2012. Mother claims she was entitled to an arrearage judgment in excess of $35,000; Father insists he paid the child support in full, although it is undisputed that he did not pay his support obligation as directed in the 1998 order to the juvenile court clerk. Father initially tendered payments to the clerk; however, at Mother’s request, which is undisputed, subsequent payments were mailed directly to Mother, some of which were remitted by Father’s mother during periods of financial hardship, and most of which were remitted by Father’s wife on a joint checking account with Father. The trial court gave Father credit for all payments remitted directly to Mother, whether remitted by his mother or his wife, for which there was documentary evidence, which totaled $23,742.91, but declined to give him credit for other claimed credits and awarded Mother an arrearage judgment in the amount of $17,337. The trial court, however, did not award prejudgment interest on the arrearage. The court also awarded Mother a portion of the attorney’s fees she had requested. On appeal, Mother contends, inter alia, the trial court erred by giving Father credit for payments that were not remitted through the clerk’s office and for payments remitted by his mother and his wife, for not awarding prejudgment interest on the arrearage, and for not awarding her all of her attorney’s fees. For his part, Father contends the trial court erred in not awarding him additional credit for child support payments made via one substantial money order and two income tax intercepts. We affirm the trial court in all respects with the exception of prejudgment interest, finding that awarding interest on a child support arrearage is not discretionary under Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-5-101(f)(1). On remand, the trial court is instructed to award prejudgment interest on the child support arrearage judgment as mandated by Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-5-101(f)(1).