The Burdette Law Firm
Recent Tennessee Divorce Law Court of Appeals Decisions

Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Michael Sharp

After a divorce, the Trial Court Changes the Parenting Plan

In this post-divorce case, the trial court entered an order on March 12, 2012, incorporating a permanent parenting plan. The order states that “[t]his matter shall be reviewed in one year.” On April 18, 2013, the court entered an order stating that “the Court, sua sponte, (meaning the court took this action of its own accord, without prompting by any other party) finds that the Permanent Parenting Plan attached to the Order of [March 12, 2012], should in fact be a Temporary Parenting Plan and by this Order [the court] corrects such.”

We hold that under Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-6-404(a) (2010), which provides that “[a]ny final decree or decree of modification in an action for absolute divorce . . . involving a minor child shall incorporate a permanent parenting plan,” the parenting plan incorporated by the trial court’s March 12, 2012 order was a permanent plan. Because of the mandatory statutory language, the trial court was without authority to subsequently “convert” it to a temporary parenting plan. Consequently, we reverse the judgment of the trial court.

One basic takeaway from this decision is that the parenting plan you agree to in a divorce may well be the parenting plan you have for a very long time unless you or your ex spouse initiate an action.

Tennessee Divorce Information
Tennessee Divorce Mediation Process
See other Court of Appeals Decisions
See the entire Gentry v. Gentry opinion

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