Breeding Olinzock Carter Crippen

Tennessee Supreme Court Decides on Major Issue Concerning Parenting Plan Modification

The Tennessee Supreme Court recently decided on a major issue concerning parenting plan modification. The decision addresses the issue of which court can hear a post-divorce petition seeking modification of a parenting plan depending on the allegations contained within the Petition.

In Bradley James Cox v. Laura Nicole Lucas, Father filed a Petition in the trial court for emergency relief and modification of the parenting plan. Mother, after some time, filed to dismiss the Orders for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Mother argued that Father's Petition included allegations of dependency and neglect and should have been filed in the juvenile court. The trial court denied Mother's motion, and Mother appealed to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals reversed concluding that the Father's petition "contained assertions that were tantamount to allegations of dependency and neglect." Cox v. Lucas, No. E201702264COAR3CV, 2018 WL 5778969, at *7 (Tenn. Ct. App. Nov. 2, 2018), appeal granted (Feb. 22, 2019), rev'd, No. E201702264SCR11CV, 2019 WL 2279226 (Tenn. May 29, 2019). Essentially, the Court of Appeals found that the divorce court could not hear any Petition containing allegations that could be dependency and neglect allegations and parties must file those actions in the already overloaded juvenile courts. Father appealed.

While this matter was pending appeal, the General Assembly amended Tenn. Code Ann. §37-1-103 to provide, "notwithstanding this section, nothing in subdivision (a)(1) shall be construed to preclude a court from exercising domestic relations jurisdiction pursuant to title 36, regardless of the nature of the allegations, unless and until a pleading is filed or relief is otherwise sought in a juvenile court invoking its exclusive original jurisdiction. Act of April 18, 2019, 2019 Tenn. Pub. Acts ch 167 (emphasis added).

The Tennessee Supreme Court ultimately followed the April 18, 2019, amendment made to title 36 and held that the divorce court (circuit and chancery courts in Tennessee) have jurisdiction to hear the post-divorce modifications unless one of the parties files the action in the juvenile court to invoke its exclusive and original jurisdiction over cases concerning dependency or neglect.

In sum, if you are seeking a modification of a parenting plan because of concerning behaviors of the other parent or fear for your child's safety, contact an experienced family law attorney to navigate you through the process so that you ensure your case is heard in the proper court.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
  • Awards And
  • National Board of Trial Advocacy | Established 1977
  • AV | AV Preeminent | Martindale-Hubbell Lawyer Ratings
  • Super Lawyers
  • The National Trial Lawyers | Top 40 Under 40
  • 10 Best 2017 Client Satisfaction | American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers | NACDL 1958
Email Our Attorneys

What Is Your Legal Issue? Please call our offices at 865-670-8535 or fill out the form below to arrange a consultation with an experienced attorney.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Breeding Olinzock Carter Crippen
800 South Gay Street
Suite 1200
Knoxville, TN 37929

Toll Free: 866-919-0953
Phone: 865-223-6307
Phone: 865-670-8535
Knoxville Law Office Map

Breeding Olinzock Carter Crippen

Istanbul Office
Konaklar Mah. Akağaç Sk.
Aksan Binasi No:7 34330
4.Levent Beşiktaş/Istanbul

Map & Directions

Istanbul Office