Trial Court Reversed in Rutherford County, Tennessee Divorce; Trial Court Ordered to Award Significantly More Parenting Time to Father

WAFA BADAWI HINDIYEH v. WALEED FAWZI ABED, (Tenn.Ct.App., April 25, 2018).

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TRIAL COURT:   This appeal arises from a divorce.  Wife sued Husband for divorce in the Chancery Court for Rutherford County. Husband and Wife were married in October 2013.  The child was born in December 2015.   The case was tried in December 2016.   After a trial, the Trial Court, inter alia, granted Wife a divorce, entered a permanent parenting plan with respect to the parties’ minor son awarding Wife 285 days to Husband’s 80. Husband appeals to this Court, arguing, among other things, that the Trial Court found no statutory factors applicable to justify such a paltry award of parenting time. The Court of Appeals vacated the Trial Court’s judgment with respect to the residential parenting schedule and remanded for the Trial Court to award Husband significantly more time with the Child.

COURT OF APPEALS:  “The Trial Court’s findings relative to this issue are favorable to both parents. The Trial Court found that Wife enjoyed a closer relationship with the Child because she was granted more time with the Child during the pendency of the case. Despite Wife’s contentions, the Trial Court found no evidence of any physical abuse perpetrated by Husband. Given the Trial Court’s findings, it is puzzling why the Trial Court entered a permanent parenting plan granting Husband only 80 days of parenting time with the Child per year to Wife’s 285. In short, the permanent parenting plan entered by the Trial Court contradicts the Trial Court’s own favorable findings regarding Husband. The evidence does not preponderate against these findings. Husband’s late work schedule in itself does not justify such a minimal award of parenting time. Given the evidence in the record on appeal, the Trial Court’s own findings, and the statutory goal of maximum participation for both parents in the life of the child, the Trial Court erred in granting Husband only 80 days per year with the Child. We, therefore, vacate the Trial Court’s judgment as it relates to the residential schedule of the permanent parenting plan and remand for the Trial Court to award Husband significantly more time with the Child to comply with our General Assembly’s mandate that the custody arrangement provides for both parents to have the maximum participation in their child’s life as consistent with all relevant factors. On remand, the Trial Court is not required to award precisely equal time to both parents, and we do not disturb the Trial Court’s designation of Wife as primary residential parent.”

As of the date of this post, the remand hearing is pending.

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