Church v. Jones (Tennessee 2021)
The trial court has discretion to set the effective date of a modified child support order to the date of the modification petition, the date of the final hearing, or any appropriate date in between. The father filed to modify support based on his reduced income. It took almost four years for this proceeding to end. In the final order, the court reduced support and, applying its discretion, set the effective as the last day of final hearing. The father appealed. The court of appeals affirmed the order. The father argued the effective date constituted a deviation from presumptive support and the order lacked the findings required for a deviation. The appellate court found no merit in this argument. The trial court properly applied the guidelines to determine support. The date merely establishes when the new amount starts. The father’s actions made the proceeding drag so it was not an abuse of discretion to start the modified amount as of the date of the final hearing. The father argued the judge was biased against him. However, he never filed a motion to recuse. The appellate court found he waived his right to challenge the judge’s impartiality.