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Posted by: Amelia Ferrell Knisely on May 27, 2016

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Melissa Thomas Blevins, Jasper, Tennessee, for the appellant, Roy Leonard Sewell.

Attorneys 2:

Diane Holland Sewell, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Judge(s): FRIERSON

In this post-divorce parenting and child support action, the father filed petitions in January 2013 to register and modify the parties' 1997 Georgia divorce decree in the Hamilton County Circuit Court (“trial court”). In the divorce decree, the Georgia court had, inter alia, designated the mother as the primary residential parent of the parties' infant son and directed the father to pay weekly child support. The trial court subsequently entered an agreed order registering the Georgia decree. Following a hearing conducted in March 2013, the trial court entered an order designating the father as the primary residential parent, incorporating a modified permanent parenting plan order, and setting child support to be paid by the mother. The mother subsequently filed a petition to register and enforce a 1998 Georgia court order finding the father in contempt and a 2003 Georgia income deduction order. She concomitantly filed an amended counter-petition, alleging several counts of willful contempt against the father, including nonpayment of child support and uninsured medical expenses, as well as unlawful possession of personal property purportedly belonging to the mother. The father subsequently filed a petition for contempt, alleging that the mother had willfully failed to pay child support pursuant to the trial court?s March 2013 order. During a two- day bench trial conducted in July 2014, the parties stipulated that the father had received Social Security disability payments from 2004 through 2013 and that the mother had received a total of $107,037.00 in related disability benefits paid on behalf of the child during that time span. Upon consideration of the evidence, as well as subsequent stipulations and pleadings filed by the parties, the trial court found that because the father had not petitioned for a modification of his child support prior to filing his petition to modify custody, he could not be credited with the Social Security benefits paid to the mother on the child's behalf. The court did, however, offset the Social Security disability benefits paid to the mother against the uncovered medical expenses claimed by the mother. In an order entered in March 2015, the court awarded the mother a judgment for a child support arrearage in the amount of $46,592.68 plus statutory interest. The court found the father in contempt for failing to maintain life insurance as ordered by the Georgia court but dismissed all other allegations of contempt. Father has appealed the ?? arrearage award, and Mother has raised issues regarding the Child's uncovered medical expenses, the dismissal of her remaining contempt allegations, and attorney's fees. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.