Tennessee Divorce Laws

Title 36 Domestic Relations

Chapter 3 Marriage

36-3-501. Enforcement of antenuptial agreements.

Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, except as provided in § 36-3-502, any antenuptial or prenuptial agreement entered into by spouses concerning property owned by either spouse before the marriage which is the subject of such agreement shall be binding upon any court having jurisdiction over such spouses and/or such agreement if such agreement is determined, in the discretion of such court, to have been entered into by such spouses freely, knowledgeably and in good faith and without exertion of duress or undue influence upon either spouse. The terms of such agreement shall be enforceable by all remedies available for enforcement of contract terms.

Chapter 4 Divorce And Annulment

36-4-101. Grounds for divorce from bonds of matrimony.

The following are causes of divorce from the bonds of matrimony:

(1) Either party, at the time of the contract, was and still is naturally impotent and incapable of procreation;

(2) Either party has knowingly entered into a second marriage, in violation of a previous marriage, still subsisting;

(3) Either party has committed adultery;

(4) Willful or malicious desertion or absence of either party, without a reasonable cause, for one (1) whole year;

(5) Being convicted of any crime which, by the laws of the state, renders the party infamous;

(6) Being convicted of a crime which, by the laws of the state, is declared to be a felony, and sentenced to confinement in the penitentiary;

(7) Either party has attempted the life of the other, by poison or any other means showing malice;

(8) Refusal, on the part of a spouse, to remove with that person's spouse to this state, without a reasonable cause, and being willfully absent from the spouse residing in Tennessee for two (2) years;

(9) The woman was pregnant at the time of the marriage, by another person, without the knowledge of the husband;

(10) Habitual drunkenness or abuse of narcotic drugs of either party, when the spouse has contracted either such habit after marriage;

(11) The husband or wife is guilty of such cruel and inhuman treatment or conduct towards the spouse as renders cohabitation unsafe and improper which may also be referred to in pleadings as inappropriate marital conduct;

(12) The husband or wife has offered such indignities to the spouse's person as to render the spouse's position intolerable, and thereby forced the spouse to withdraw;

(13) The husband or wife has abandoned the spouse or turned the spouse out of doors for no just cause, and has refused or neglected to provide for the spouse while having the ability to so provide;

(14) Irreconcilable differences between the parties; and

(15) For a continuous period of two (2) or more years which commenced prior to or after April 18, 1985, both parties have lived in separate residences, have not cohabited as man and wife during such period, and there are no minor children of the parties.

36-4-102. Legal separation.

(a) A party who alleges grounds for divorce from the bonds of matrimony may, as an alternative to filing a complaint for divorce, file a complaint for legal separation. Such complaint shall set forth the grounds for legal separation in substantially the language of § 36-4-101 and pray only for legal separation or for such other and further relief to which complainant may think to be entitled. The other party may deny the existence of grounds for divorce but, unless the other party specifically objects to the granting of an order of legal separation, the court shall declare the parties to be legally separated.

(b) If the other party specifically objects to legal separation, the court may, after a hearing, grant an order of legal separation, notwithstanding such objections if grounds are established pursuant to § 36-4-101. The court also has the power to grant an absolute divorce to either party where there has been an order of legal separation for more than two (2) years upon a petition being filed by either party which sets forth the original order for legal separation and that the parties have not become reconciled. The court granting the divorce shall make a final and complete adjudication of the support and property rights of the parties. However, nothing in this subsection shall preclude the court from granting an absolute divorce before the two-year period has expired.

(c) Legal separation shall not affect the bonds of matrimony but shall permit the parties to cease matrimonial cohabitation. The court may provide for matters such as child custody, visitation, support and property issues during legal separation upon motion by either party or by agreement of the parties.

(d) Notwithstanding this section, a party who can establish grounds for divorce from the bonds of matrimony pursuant to § 36-4-101 shall be entitled to an absolute divorce pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.

36-4-103. Irreconcilable differences - Procedure.

(a)(1) In all divorces sought because of irreconcilable differences between the parties, if the defendant is a nonresident, personal service may be effectuated by service upon the secretary of state pursuant to the provisions of § 20-2-215.

(2) In lieu of service of process, the defendant may enter into a written notarized marital dissolution agreement with plaintiff that makes specific reference to a pending divorce by a court and docket number, or states that the defendant is aware that one will be filed in this state and that the defendant waives further service and waives filing an answer to the complaint. Such waiver of service shall be valid for a period of one hundred eighty (180) days from the date the last party signs the agreement. The agreement may include the obligation and payment of alimony, in solido or in futuro, to either of the parties, any other provision of the law notwithstanding. The signing of such an agreement shall be in lieu of service of process for the period such waiver is valid and shall constitute a general appearance before the court and answer which shall give the court personal jurisdiction over the defendant, and constitute a default judgment for the purpose of granting a divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences.

(3) No divorce heretofore granted shall be invalid because the agreement was signed and notarized or acknowledged prior to filing under prior law before the action was filed.

(b) No divorce shall be granted on the ground of irreconcilable differences unless the court affirmatively finds in its decree that the parties have made adequate and sufficient provision by written agreement for the custody and maintenance of any children of that marriage and for the equitable settlement of any property rights between the parties. If the court does not affirmatively find that the agreement is sufficient or equitable, the cause shall be continued by the court to allow further disposition by the petitioner. If both parties are present at the hearing, they may, at that time, ratify any amendments the court may have to the agreement. The amended agreement shall then become a part of the decree. The agreement shall be incorporated in the decree or incorporated by reference, and such decree may be modified as other decrees for divorce.

(c)(1) Bills for divorce on the ground of irreconcilable differences must have been on file for sixty (60) days before being heard if the parties have no unmarried child under eighteen (18) years of age, and must have been on file at least ninety (90) days before being heard if the parties have an unmarried child under eighteen (18) years of age. The sixty-day or ninety-day period bills for divorce which must be on file shall commence on the date the original bill was filed and not on the date the bill was amended to include the ground of irreconcilable differences.

(2) A divorce decree or order issued prior to March 22, 1996, in which the hearing for such divorce occurred before the specified time periods required by this subsection, shall remain valid and the parties shall remain divorced. Likewise, all other issues resolved in the divorce decree, order or agreement, such as distribution of marital property, alimony, child support and custody, shall remain valid and in full force and effect.

(d)(1) A bill of complaint for divorce where the respondent has been personally served or acknowledged as set out in subsection (a), which includes the ground of irreconcilable differences, may be taken as confessed and a final decree entered thereon, as in other cases and without corroborative proof or testimony, the provisions of §§ 36-4-107 and 36-4-114 to the contrary notwithstanding.

(2) For purposes of this section, "without corroborative proof or testimony" means that the petitioner shall not be required to testify as to the material facts constituting irreconcilable differences or any attempts to reconcile such differences.

(e) If there has been a contest or denial of the grounds of irreconcilable differences, no divorce shall be granted on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. However, a divorce may be granted on the grounds of irreconcilable differences where there has been a contest or denial, if a properly executed marital dissolution agreement is presented to the court.

(f) Irreconcilable differences may be asserted as a sole ground for divorce or as an alternate ground for divorce with any other cause for divorce set out in § 36-4-101 or § 36-4-102.

36-4-104. Residence requirements.

(a) A divorce may be granted for any of the aforementioned causes if the acts complained of were committed while the plaintiff was a bona fide resident of this state or if the acts complained of were committed out of this state and the plaintiff resided out of the state at the time, if the plaintiff or the defendant has resided in this state six (6) months next preceding the filing of the complaint.

(b) For the purposes of this section, any person in the armed services of the United States, or the spouse of any such person, who has been living in this state for a period of not less than one (1) year shall be presumed to be a resident of this state, and the presumption of residence shall be overcome only by clear and convincing evidence of a domicile elsewhere.

36-4-105. Venue.

(a) The bill or petition may be filed in the proper name of the complainant, in the chancery or circuit court or other court having divorce jurisdiction, in the county where the parties reside at the time of their separation, or in which the defendant resides, if a resident of the state; but if the defendant is a nonresident of the state or a convict, then in the county where the applicant resides.

(b) Any divorce granted prior to May 4, 1967, will not be deemed void solely on the ground that the parties to the divorce action were residents of a county or counties other than the county in which the divorce decree was entered.

36-4-106. Contents of petition for divorce and legal separation.

(a)(1) The complaint for divorce shall set forth the grounds for the divorce in substantially the language of § 36-4-101 or § 36-4-102, and pray only for a divorce from the defendant, or for a divorce and such other and further relief to which the complainant may think to be entitled. In cases wherein an answer is filed, the court shall, on motion of the defendant, require the complainant to file a bill of particulars, setting forth the facts relied on as grounds for the divorce, with reasonable certainty as to time and place.

(2) The complaint for legal separation shall set forth the grounds for legal separation in substantially the language of § 36-4-101, and pray for such further relief to which the complainant is entitled. In all cases where an answer is filed, the court shall, on motion of the defendant, require the complainant to file a bill of particulars, stating the facts relied on as a ground for legal separation, with reasonable certainty as to time and place.

(b)(1) The complainant shall also allege the full name of the husband, the full maiden name of the wife, their mailing addresses, dates and places of their birth, race or color of each spouse, number of previous marriages of each spouse, date and place of the marriage of the parties, the number of their children who are minors at the time of the filing of the complaint, the social security numbers of the parties and all children born of the marriage, and any other litigation concerning the custody of such children in this or any other state in which either party has participated, as specified in § 36-6-210 [repealed]. It shall be mandatory that every complaint filed under this chapter shall contain the foregoing, and the trial judges shall dismiss petitions and bills which do not contain the foregoing unless it can be shown to the satisfaction of the court that such information could not be obtained by the complainant or petitioner by exercising due diligence. In lieu of a mailing address, either party may designate an agent for the service of process throughout the proceedings and, except as provided in subdivision (b)(2), the name and address of such agent shall be the only address used for the designating party in all petitions, pleadings, motions and orders relating to such divorce action.

(2) If the complainant or the defendant shows to the satisfaction of the court in which the petition is filed that the residential address of the other party is relevant and necessary in order to prove the allegations contained in the complaint or to ascertain information necessary to determine value and/or ownership of property, or to ascertain other data necessary to evaluate and agree upon a property division or custody or defend against such allegations, the court may order either party to reveal such residential address to the other party.

(3) If the complainant elects to designate an agent for service of process in lieu of the mailing address as authorized by this subsection but does not designate a specific person, the complainant's attorney shall be deemed the complainant's agent for service of process.

(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of the law to the contrary, the plaintiff or other party shall not be required in those counties having a divorce proctor to file an affidavit swearing that the defendant is not in the military service where:

(1) The complaint states facts that would make the defendant ineligible for military service; or

(2) The residence address of the defendant is set forth in the complaint, and:

(A) The defendant has been personally served with service of process, or has been mailed a copy of the complaint by a divorce proctor;

(B) The defendant has actual notice of the commencement of the suit;

(C) Proof of mailing to the defendant of notice of the suit is exhibited to the court; or

(D) The defendant is represented by an attorney.

(d) Upon the filing of a petition for divorce or legal separation except on the sole ground of irreconcilable differences and upon personal service of the complaint and summons on the respondent or upon waiver and acceptance of service by the respondent, the following temporary injunctions shall be in effect against both parties until the final decree of divorce or order of legal separation is entered, the petition is dismissed, the parties reach agreement, or until the court modifies or dissolves the injunction, written notice of which shall be served with the complaint:

(1)(A) An injunction restraining and enjoining both parties from transferring, assigning, borrowing against, concealing or in any way dissipating or disposing, without the consent of the other party or an order of the court, of any marital property. Nothing herein is intended to preclude either of the parties from seeking broader injunctive relief from the court.

(B) Expenditures from current income to maintain the marital standard of living and the usual and ordinary costs of operating a business are not restricted by this injunction. Each party shall maintain records of all expenditures, copies of which shall be available to the other party upon request.

(2) An injunction restraining and enjoining both parties from voluntarily canceling, modifying, terminating, assigning, or allowing to lapse for nonpayment of premiums, any insurance policy, including, but not limited to, life, health, disability, homeowners, renters, and automobile, where such insurance policy provides coverage to either of the parties or the children, or that names either of the parties or the children as beneficiaries without the consent of the other party or an order of the court. "Modifying" includes any change in beneficiary status.

(3) An injunction restraining both parties from harassing, threatening, assaulting or abusing the other and from making disparaging remarks about the other to or in the presence of any children of the parties or to either party's employer.

(4) An injunction restraining both parties from relocating any children of the parties outside the state of Tennessee, or more than one hundred (100) miles from the marital home, without the permission of the other party or an order of the court, except in the case of a removal based upon a well-founded fear of physical abuse against either the fleeing parent or the child. In such cases, upon request of the nonrelocating parent, the court will conduct an expedited hearing, by phone conference if appropriate, to determine the reasonableness of the relocation and to make such other orders as appropriate.

(5) The provisions of these injunctions shall be attached to the summons and the complaint and shall be served with the complaint. The injunctions shall become an order of the court upon fulfillment of the requirements of this subsection (d). However, nothing in this subsection shall preclude either party from applying to the court for further temporary orders, an expanded temporary injunction, or modification or revocation of this temporary injunction.

(6) The temporary injunctions provided in this section shall only apply to the spousal parties named in the petition and shall not apply to any third party named in the petition; provided, however, that nothing in this subsection (d) shall preclude any party from applying to the court for an order of injunctive or extraordinary relief against any other party named in any petition as provided by law or rule.

36-4-107. Verification of petition - Effect of noncompliance.

(a) The bill or petition, except those seeking a divorce from the bonds of matrimony on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, shall be verified by an affidavit, upon oath or affirmation, before a general sessions court judge, notary public or the judge or clerk of the court, or as provided in §§ 58-1-605 - 58-1-607, that the facts stated in the bill are true to the best of the complainant's knowledge and belief for the causes mentioned in the bill. The authority conferred in §§ 58-1-605 - 58-1-607 may be exercised beyond the continental limits of the United States.

(b) If the issue of whether the affidavit contains the complainant's verification that the complaint is not made out of levity or in collusion with the defendant is not raised at trial, each party waives the right to contest such issue on appeal.

(c) A divorce decree or order issued prior to March 22, 1996, in which the bill or petition for such divorce did not include the affidavit of verification required by this section shall remain valid and the parties shall remain divorced. Likewise, all other issues resolved in the divorce decree, order or agreement, such as distribution of marital property, alimony, child support and custody, shall remain valid and in full force and effect.

36-4-108. Security for costs - Service of process.

(a) The complainant, upon giving security for costs, or otherwise complying with the law, shall have the usual process to compel the defendant to appear and answer the bill, or it may be taken for confessed, as in other chancery cases.

(b) In actions for annulment of marriage, service on the defendant may be by subpoena or by publication as in divorce cases.

36-4-109. Time for hearing.

If the subpoena to answer has been served upon the defendant, or if publication has been completed as required by law, the cause may be set for hearing and tried at the first term of court thereafter.

36-4-110. Appearance and answer.

The defendant may appear according to the rules of the court and answer the bill upon oath or affirmation.

36-4-111. Failure to separate not a defense.

It is no impediment to a divorce that the offended spouse did not leave the marital domicile or separate from the offending spouse on account of the conduct of the offending spouse.

36-4-112. Defense when ground is adultery.

If the cause assigned for the divorce is adultery, it is a good defense and perpetual bar to the same if the defendant alleges and proves that:

(1) The complainant has been guilty of like act or crime;

(2) The complainant has admitted the defendant into conjugal society and embraces after knowledge of the criminal act;

(3) The complainant, if the husband, allowed the wife's prostitutions and received hire for them; or

(4) The husband exposed the wife to lewd company, whereby the wife became ensnared to the act or crime of adultery.

36-4-113. Issues - Trial by jury - New trial.

Issues may be made up at the request of either party upon matters of fact charged in the bill or petition and denied in the answer, and be tried by a jury in presence of the court, and a new trial may be granted of the issues, should the court deem it necessary.

36-4-114. Proof required.

If the defendant admits the facts charged in the bill or petition and relied upon as the ground for a divorce, or the bill is taken for confessed, the court shall, nevertheless, before decreeing a divorce, except a divorce on the ground of irreconcilable differences, hear proof of the facts alleged as aforementioned, and either dismiss the bill or petition or grant a divorce, as the justice of the case may require.

36-4-115. Form of proof.

Either party may take proof by depositions according to the rules or orders of the court, or have the witnesses examined in open court at pleasure.

36-4-116. Affidavits of proof not required - Sworn statements concerning financial matters required - Sworn statements as evidence.

(a) No judge or chancellor shall require the filing of affidavits of proof from witnesses, plaintiffs, defendants, or petitioners and respondents in support of any complaint for divorce, legal separation, separate maintenance or annulment.

(b) Any such judge or chancellor may, however, require a sworn statement from such persons relative or pertaining to the income of the parties, their expenses, any real or personal property in which the parties have an interest and the extent of such parties' interest therein, and such sworn statement shall be admissible as evidence of the truth of the contents.

36-4-117. Proof when ground is spouse's refusal to remove to this state.

If the divorce is sought by the complainant spouse on the ground of the defendant spouse's refusal to remove with the complainant spouse to this state, and of the defendant spouse's willful absence for two (2) years without reasonable cause, the complainant spouse shall prove endeavors to induce the defendant spouse to live with the complainant spouse after the separation, and that the complainant spouse did not remove from the state where the complainant spouse resided for the purpose of obtaining a divorce.

36-4-118. Proof when ground is conviction of crime.

The proof that the defendant is a convict, or is sentenced to the penitentiary, if that is the cause relied upon for the divorce, shall be by the record of the conviction and sentence.

36-4-119. Decree of court generally.

If, upon hearing the cause, the court is satisfied that the complainant is entitled to relief, it may be granted either by pronouncing the marriage void from the beginning, or by dissolving it forever and freeing each party from the obligations thereof, or by a separation for a limited time.

36-4-120. Decree of court in action brought under § 36-4-102.

(a) If the cause assigned for a divorce is that specified in § 36-4-101 (11), the defendant may make defense by alleging and proving the ill conduct of the complainant as a justifiable cause for the conduct complained of, and on making out the defense to the satisfaction of the court, the bill may be dismissed with or without costs, in the discretion of the court.

(b) But if the court is of the opinion that the complainant is entitled to relief, it may be granted, according to the prayer of the bill, by annulling the marriage, or by ordering a separation, perpetual or temporary, or such other decree as the nature and circumstances of the case require.

36-4-121. Distribution of marital property.

(a)(1) In all actions for divorce or legal separation, the court having jurisdiction thereof may, upon request of either party, and prior to any determination as to whether it is appropriate to order the support and maintenance of one (1) party by the other, equitably divide, distribute or assign the marital property between the parties without regard to marital fault in proportions as the court deems just.

(2) In all actions for legal separation, the court, in its discretion, may equitably divide, distribute, or assign the marital property in whole or in part, or reserve the division or assignment of marital property until a later time. If the court makes a final distribution of marital property at the time of the decree of legal separation, any after-acquired property is separate property.

(3) To this end, the court shall be empowered to effectuate its decree by divesting and reinvesting title to such property and, where deemed necessary, to order a sale of such property and to order the proceeds divided between the parties.

(A) Any auction sale of property ordered pursuant to this section shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of title 35, chapter 5.

(B) The court may order the provisions of title 35, chapter 5, to apply to any sale ordered by the court pursuant to this section.

(C) The court, in its discretion, may impose any additional conditions or procedures upon the sale of property in divorce cases as are reasonably designed to ensure that such property is sold for its fair market value.

(b) For purposes of this chapter:

(1)(A) "Marital property" means all real and personal property, both tangible and intangible, acquired by either or both spouses during the course of the marriage up to the date of the final divorce hearing and owned by either or both spouses as of the date of filing of a complaint for divorce, except in the case of fraudulent conveyance in anticipation of filing, and including any property to which a right was acquired up to the date of the final divorce hearing, and valued as of a date as near as reasonably possible to the final divorce hearing date. In the case of a complaint for legal separation, the court may make a final disposition of the marital property either at the time of entering an order of legal separation or at the time of entering a final divorce decree, if any. If the marital property is divided as part of the order of legal separation, any property acquired by a spouse thereafter is deemed separate property of that spouse. All marital property shall be valued as of a date as near as possible to the date of entry of the order finally dividing the marital property.

(B) "Marital property" includes income from, and any increase in value during the marriage of, property determined to be separate property in accordance with subdivision (b)(2) if each party substantially contributed to its preservation and appreciation, and the value of vested and unvested pension, vested and unvested stock option rights, retirement or other fringe benefit rights relating to employment that accrued during the period of the marriage.

(C) "Marital property" includes recovery in personal injury, workers' compensation, social security disability actions, and other similar actions for the following: wages lost during the marriage, reimbursement for medical bills incurred and paid with marital property, and property damage to marital property.

(D) As used in this subsection, "substantial contribution" may include, but not be limited to, the direct or indirect contribution of a spouse as homemaker, wage earner, parent or family financial manager, together with such other factors as the court having jurisdiction thereof may determine.

(E) Property shall be considered marital property as defined by this subsection for the sole purpose of dividing assets upon divorce or legal separation and for no other purpose; and assets distributed as marital property will not be considered as income for child support or alimony purposes, except to the extent the asset will create additional income after the division.

(2) "Separate property" means:

(A) All real and personal property owned by a spouse before marriage, including, but not limited to, assets held in individual retirement accounts (IRAs) as that term is defined in the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended;

(B) Property acquired in exchange for property acquired before the marriage;

(C) Income from and appreciation of property owned by a spouse before marriage except when characterized as marital property under subdivision (b)(1);

(D) Property acquired by a spouse at any time by gift, bequest, devise or descent;

(E) Pain and suffering awards, victim of crime compensation awards, future medical expenses, and future lost wages; and

(F) Property acquired by a spouse after an order of legal separation where the court has made a final disposition of property.

(c) In making equitable division of marital property, the court shall consider all relevant factors including:

(1) The duration of the marriage;

(2) The age, physical and mental health, vocational skills, employability, earning capacity, estate, financial liabilities and financial needs of each of the parties;

(3) The tangible or intangible contribution by one (1) party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party;

(4) The relative ability of each party for future acquisitions of capital assets and income;

(5) The contribution of each party to the acquisition, preservation, appreciation, depreciation or dissipation of the marital or separate property, including the contribution of a party to the marriage as homemaker, wage earner or parent, with the contribution of a party as homemaker or wage earner to be given the same weight if each party has fulfilled its role;

(6) The value of the separate property of each party;

(7) The estate of each party at the time of the marriage;

(8) The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property is to become effective;

(9) The tax consequences to each party, costs associated with the reasonably foreseeable sale of the asset, and other reasonably foreseeable expenses associated with the asset;

(10) The amount of social security benefits available to each spouse; and

(11) Such other factors as are necessary to consider the equities between the parties.

(d) The court may award the family home and household effects, or the right to live therein and use the household effects for a reasonable period, to either party, but shall give special consideration to a spouse having physical custody of a child or children of the marriage.

(e)(1) The court may impose a lien upon the marital real property assigned to a party, or upon such party's separate real property, or both, as security for the payment of child support.

(2) The court may impose a lien upon the marital real property assigned to a party as security for the payment of spouse support or payment pursuant to property division.

(f)(1) If, in making equitable distribution of marital property, the court determines that the distribution of an interest in a business, corporation or profession would be contrary to law, the court may make a distributive award of money or other property in order to achieve equity between the parties. The court, in its discretion, may also make a distributive award of money or other property to supplement, facilitate or effectuate a distribution of marital property.

(2) The court may provide that any distributive award payable over a period of time be secured by a lien on specific property.

(g)(1) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the affirmation, ratification and incorporation in a decree of an agreement between the parties regarding the division of property.

(2) Nothing in this section shall affect validity of an antenuptial agreement which is enforceable under § 36-3-501.

36-4-122. Costs.

The court may decree costs against either party, and may award execution for the same, or, in case any estate is sequestered, or in the power of the court, or in the hands of a receiver, it may order the costs to be paid out of such property.

36-4-123. Appeals.

Appeals in divorce cases shall be governed by the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure. Pending appeal, orders and decrees of the trial court shall have the effect prescribed by the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure.

36-4-124. Right to remarry.

When a marriage is absolutely annulled, or dissolved, the parties shall severally be at liberty to marry again.

36-4-125. Legitimacy of children unaffected by divorce or annulment.

The annulment or dissolution of the marriage shall not in any way affect the legitimacy of the children of the same.

36-4-126. Suspension of proceedings to attempt reconciliation - Revocation.

(a) During the pendency of any suit for absolute divorce, limited divorce or separate maintenance, the court having jurisdiction of the matter may, upon the written stipulation of both the husband and wife that they desire to attempt a reconciliation, enter an order suspending any and all orders and proceedings for such time as the court, in its discretion, may determine advisable under the circumstances, so as to permit the parties to attempt such reconciliation without prejudice to their respective rights. During the period of such suspension, the parties may resume living together as husband and wife and their acts and conduct in so doing shall not be determined a condonation of any prior misconduct.

(b) Such suspension may be revoked upon motion of either party by order of the court.

36-4-127. Expungement of divorce records upon reconciliation of parties.

Parties to any divorce proceeding, who have reconciled and dismissed their cause of action, may thereafter file an agreed sworn petition signed by both parties and notarized, requesting expungement of their divorce records. Upon the filing of such petition, the judge shall issue an order directing the clerk to expunge all records pertaining to such divorce proceedings, once all court costs have been paid. The clerk shall receive a fee of fifty dollars ($50.00) for performing such clerk's duties under this section.

36-4-128. Remarriage after spouses two-year absence - Effect of spouse's return.

(a) If, upon a false rumor, apparently well founded, of the death of one (1) of the parties, who has been absent two (2) whole years, the other party marries again, the party remaining single may, upon returning, insist upon a restoration of conjugal rights or upon a dissolution of the marriage, and the court shall decree accordingly, to wit: that the first marriage shall stand and the second be dissolved, or vice versa.

(b) Such bill or petition shall be filed within one (1) year after the return.

36-4-129. Stipulated grounds and/or defenses - Grant of divorce.

(a) In all actions for divorce from the bonds of matrimony or legal separation the parties may stipulate as to grounds and/or defenses.

(b) The court may, upon stipulation to or proof of any ground for divorce pursuant to § 36-4-101, grant a divorce to the party who was less at fault or, if either or both parties are entitled to a divorce, declare the parties to be divorced, rather than awarding a divorce to either party alone.

36-4-130. Mediation - Confidentiality of information and documents.

(a) When the parties to a divorce action choose to mediate the dispute, the mediator shall not divulge information disclosed to the mediator by the parties or by others in the course of mediation. All records, reports, and other documents developed for the mediation are confidential and privileged.

(b) Communications made during a mediation may be disclosed only:

(1) When all parties to the mediation agree, in writing, to waive the confidentiality of the written information;

(2) In a subsequent action between the mediator and a party to the mediation for damages arising out of the mediation;

(3) When statements, memoranda, materials and other tangible evidence are otherwise subject to discovery and were not prepared specifically for use in and actually used in the mediation;

(4) When the parties to the mediation are engaged in litigation with a third party and the court determines that fairness to the third party requires that the fact or substance of an agreement resulting from mediation be disclosed; or

(5) When the disclosure reveals abuse or neglect of a child by one (1) of the parties.

(c) The mediator shall not be compelled to testify in any proceeding, unless all parties to the mediation and the mediator agree in writing.

36-4-131. Mediation in cases involving domestic abuse.

In any proceeding for divorce or separate support and maintenance, if an order of protection issued in or recognized by this state is in effect or there is a court finding of domestic abuse or any criminal conviction involving domestic abuse within the marriage which is the subject of the proceeding for divorce or separate support and maintenance, the court may order mediation or refer either party to mediation only if:

(1) Mediation is agreed to by the victim of the alleged domestic or family violence;

(2) Mediation is provided by a certified mediator who is trained in domestic and family violence in a specialized manner that protects the safety of the victim; and

(3) The victim is permitted to have in attendance at mediation a supporting person of the victim's choice, including, but not limited to, an attorney or advocate. No victim may provide monetary compensation to a non-attorney advocate for attendance at mediation.

36-4-132. Appointment of guardian ad litem.

(a) In an action for dissolution of marriage involving minor children, upon its own motion or upon the motion of either party, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem for any minor child of the marriage.

(b) The reasonable fees or costs of the guardian ad litem shall be borne by the parties and may be assessed by the court as it deems equitable. Such fees or costs may be waived upon motion for an indigent person.

(c) Any guardian ad litem appointed by the court pursuant to this section shall be presumed to be acting in good faith and in so doing shall be immune from any liability that might otherwise be incurred while acting within the scope of such appointment. Such immunity shall apply in all proceedings in which such guardian ad litem may act.

Chapter 5 Alimony And Child Support

36-5-101. Decree for support of spouse and children - Modification - Delinquencies - Standing to petition - Court costs and attorneys fees - Means of collection - Scientific parentage tests.

(a)(1)(A) Whether the marriage is dissolved absolutely, or a perpetual or temporary separation is decreed, the court may make an order and decree for the suitable support and maintenance of either spouse by the other spouse, or out of either spouse's property, and of the children, or any of them, by either spouse or out of such spouse's property, according to the nature of the case and the circumstances of the parties, the order or decree to remain in the court's control; and, on application of either party for spousal support, the court may decree an increase or decrease of such allowance only upon a showing of a substantial and material change of circumstances. In cases involving child support, upon application of either party, the court shall decree an increase or decrease of such allowance when there is found to be a significant variance, as defined in the child support guidelines established by subsection (e), between the guidelines and the amount of support currently ordered unless the variance has resulted from a previously court-ordered deviation from the guidelines and the circumstances which caused the deviation have not changed. The necessity to provide for the child's health care needs shall also be a basis for modification of the amount of the order, regardless of whether a modification in the amount of child support is necessary. In no event shall eligibility for or receipt of Medicaid or TennCare-Medicaid by the custodial parent be considered to meet the need to provide for the child's health care needs in the order. The court shall not refuse to consider a modification of a prior order and decree as it relates to future payments of child support because the party is in arrears under that order and decree, unless the arrearage is a result of intentional action by the party. The court shall set a specific amount which is due in each month to be paid in one (1) or more payments as the court directs. Unless the court finds otherwise, each order made under this section shall contain the current address of the parties. When an order provides for the support of two (2) or more children in a case which is subject to enforcement under Title IV-D, and at least one (1) child is a public charge based upon receipt of temporary assistance pursuant to title 71, chapter 3, part 1, TennCare-Medicaid, or foster care or other custodial services from the state of Tennessee, the child support order shall be prorated by the department for purposes of distribution of the child support to the appropriate person or agency providing care or support for the child without the need for modification of the child support order by the court.

(B)(i) Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (a)(1)(B)(ii) and § 36-5-103(f), for the purposes of this chapter, the birth or adoption of another child for whom an obligor is legally responsible to support and is supporting shall constitute a substantial and material change of circumstances for seeking a review of the existing order to determine if the addition of such child, and any credits applicable for the addition of such child under the department's child support guidelines, would result in a significant variance under such guidelines. If the significant variance is demonstrated by the review, the amount of an existing child support order may be modified by the court.

(ii) For purposes of this chapter, the significant variance established by the department of human services pursuant to the child support guidelines shall provide a lower threshold for modification of child support orders for persons whose adjusted gross incomes are within low income categories established by the department's child support guidelines. The significant variance involving low income persons shall be established by rule of the department at no more than seven-and-one-half percent (7 ½%) of the difference between the current child support order and the amount of the proposed child support order.

(2)(A) Courts having jurisdiction of the subject matter and of the parties are hereby expressly authorized to provide for the future support of a spouse and of the children, in proper cases, by fixing some definite amount or amounts to be paid in monthly, semimonthly, or weekly installments, or otherwise, as circumstances may warrant, and such awards, if not paid, may be enforced by any appropriate process of the court having jurisdiction thereof, including levy of execution.

(B) In all cases where a person is receiving alimony in futuro or alimony the amount of which is not calculable on the date the decree was entered, and that person dies or remarries, the alimony in futuro or alimony the amount of which is not calculable on the date the decree was entered, will terminate automatically and unconditionally upon the death or remarriage of the recipient. The recipient shall notify the obligor of the remarriage timely upon remarriage. Failure of the recipient to timely give notice of the remarriage will allow the obligor to recover all amounts paid as alimony in futuro or alimony the amount of which is not calculable on the date the decree was entered, to the recipient after the recipient's marriage.

(3) In all cases where a person is receiving alimony in futuro and the alimony recipient lives with a third person, a rebuttable presumption is thereby raised that:

(A) The third person is contributing to the support of the alimony recipient and the alimony recipient therefore does not need the amount of support previously awarded, and the court therefore should suspend all or part of the alimony obligation of the former spouse; or

(B) The third person is receiving support from the alimony recipient and the alimony recipient therefore does not need the amount of alimony previously awarded and the court therefore should suspend all or part of the alimony obligation of the former spouse.

This subdivision (a)(3) shall in no way be construed to create any commonlaw marriage obligation as to third parties.

(4)(A) The order or decree of the court may provide that the payments for the support of such child or children or spouse shall be paid either to the clerk of the court or directly to the spouse, or other person awarded the custody of the child or children; provided, however:

(i) That the court shall order that all child or spousal support payments based upon an income assignment issued by the clerk be paid to the clerk of the court, except, as set forth in subdivision (4)(A)(ii), for child or spousal support cases that are subject to the provisions for central collection and disbursement pursuant to § 36-5-116; and

(ii) That in all Title IV-D child or spousal support cases in which payment of child or spousal support is to be made by income assignment, or otherwise, and in all cases where payments made by income assignment based upon support orders entered on or after January 1, 1994, that are not Title IV-D support cases but must be made to the central collection and disbursement unit as provided by § 36-5-116, and, except as may otherwise be allowed by § 36-5-501(a)(2)(B), the court shall only order that the support payments be made to the central collection and disbursement unit pursuant to § 36-5-116. No agreement by the parties in a parenting plan, either temporary or permanent, entered pursuant to the provisions of title 36, chapter 6, part 4, or any other agreement of the parties or order of the court, except as may otherwise be allowed by § 36-5-501(a)(2)(B), shall alter the requirements for payment to the central collection and disbursement unit as required by § 36-5-116, and any provision of any parenting plan, agreement or court order providing for any other payment procedure contrary to the requirements of § 36-5-116, except as may otherwise be allowed by § 36-5-501(a)(2)(B), whether or not approved by the court, shall be void and of no effect. No credit shall be given by the court, the court clerk or the department of human services for child or spousal support payments required by the support order that are made in contravention of such requirements; provided, however, the department may make any necessary adjustments to the balances owed to account for changes in the Title IV-D or central collection and disbursement status of the support case.

(B)(i) When the court enters an order in which the paternity of a child is determined or support is ordered, enforced or modified for a child, each individual who is a party to any action pursuant to this part shall be immediately required to file with the court and, if the case is a Title IV-D child support case, shall immediately file with the local Title IV-D child support office, for entry into the state registry of support cases, and shall update, as appropriate, the parties' and, for subdivisions (a)(4)(B)(i)(a)-(B)(i)(c), the child's or children's:

(a) Full name and any change in name;

(b) Social security number and date and place of birth;

(c) Residential and mailing addresses;

(d) Home telephone numbers;

(e) Driver license number;

(f) The name, address, and telephone number of the person's employer;

(g) The availability and cost of health insurance for the child; and

(h) Gross annual income.

The requirements of this subdivision may be included in the court's order.

(ii) Each individual who is a party must update changes in circumstances of the individual for the information required by subdivision (a)(4)(B)(i) within ten (10) days of the date of such change. At the time of the entry of the first order pertaining to child support after July 1, 1997, clear written notice shall be given to each party of the requirements of this subsection, procedures for complying with the subsection and a description of the effect or failure to comply. Such requirement may be noted in the order of the court.

(iii) In any subsequent child support enforcement action, the delivery of written notice as required by Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 5 to the most recent residential or employer address shown in the court's records or the Title IV-D agency's records as required in subdivision (a)(4)(B)(i) shall be deemed to satisfy due process requirements for notice and service of process with respect to that party if there is a sufficient showing and the court is satisfied that a diligent effort has been made to ascertain the location and whereabouts of the party.

(iv) Upon motion of either party, upon a showing of domestic violence or the threat of such violence, the court may enter an order to withhold from public access the address, telephone number, and location of the alleged victims or victims or threatened victims of such circumstances. The clerk of the court shall withhold such information based upon the court's specific order but may not be held liable for release of such information.

(C)(i) All support payments which have been paid to the clerk of the court shall be distributed by the clerk as provided in the order of the court within ten (10) days; provided, that the payments made to the clerk of the court in Title IV-D child support cases shall be distributed and deposited pursuant to the operating agreements under subdivision (a)(4)(C)(iii) and the provisions of subdivision (a)(4)(D) after implementation of the statewide Title IV-D child support computer system in the clerk's county, and after the appropriate notice to the clerk by the department under these subdivisions.

(ii) If the clerk receives child support payments on behalf of an individual who has assigned rights to child support to the department under the aid to families with dependent children (AFDC) program prior to the implementation of the statewide Title IV-D child support computer system pursuant to the provisions of subdivision (a)(4)(C)(iii), the clerk shall send any support payment received on behalf of such individual, along with the first and last names of the parties, docket number, IV-D number (if any), IV-A number (if any), and date and amount of payment, to the department or its designee within ten (10) working days of receipt thereof. Further, in every such IV-D case, if unable to provide the information concerning an order through a computer information transfer, the clerk shall send a copy of any new order or modification of such order, prior to or along with the first payment received pursuant to such order to the department or its designee within the time limit stated above. In the event the department or its designee provides the clerk with a certificate specifying the amount of support due the state as a result of assistance payments made to or on behalf of such individual, the clerk shall distribute the payments to such individual and to the department in accordance with such certificate.

(iii) All clerks of courts with responsibilities for the collection and distribution of child support obligations shall elect whether to participate in the operation of the statewide Title IV-D child support computer system within thirty (30) days of notification by the department requesting a decision. The election shall be accomplished by the signing of a letter of agreement with the department which shall set forth the obligations of the department and the clerk relative to the operation of the system. Clerks electing to participate shall be bound by the terms of the agreement and the laws, regulations, and the policies and procedures of the Title IV-D child support program for the term of the agreement, unless the agreement is cancelled by the department after notice to the clerk and an opportunity to correct any deficiencies caused by failure of the clerk to comply with federal or state regulations or procedures for operation of the system within thirty (30) days of such notice. While participating in the system, the clerks shall be entitled to receive the statutory fee for the collection and handling of child support obligations under the Title IV-D program. If a clerk declines to participate in the system, payments of child support to the clerk and the statutory collection fee shall continue until the clerk is notified by the department that the system is operative in the clerk's county. If the agreement is subsequently cancelled, or when the department notifies the clerk who does not elect to participate that the system is operative in the clerk's county, the payment of the child support obligations and the statutory fee for collection of Title IV-D child support payments in Title IV-D cases shall be immediately payable to the department or its designee by the obligor without the necessity of a change to the court order upon notice by the department to the obligor and to the employer if the obligor is under an income assignment. Any Title IV-D child support payment which the clerk who is not participating in the system receives after the date on which the clerk is notified of the effective date of the operation of the system in the clerk's county, or after notice by the department or its contractor that Title IV-D services are now being provided on a child support case, or after the cancellation of the operating agreement, shall be sent immediately by the clerk to the department or its designee, without the necessity of a court order.

(iv) The clerks of all courts involved in the collection of any child support shall cooperate with and provide any reasonable and necessary assistance to the department or its contractors in the transfer of data concerning child support to the statewide Title IV-D child support computer system.

(v) Whenever the clerk has ceased handling Title IV-D child support payments under the provisions of subdivision (a)(4)(C)(iii), and only where the context requires, all provisions in this chapter relating to the duties or actions involving the clerk shall be interpreted to substitute the department or its contractor.

(D) In all cases which are being served by the department or any of its contractors under the Title IV-D child support program, the clerks shall, upon notice by the department, deposit all receipts of Title IV-D child support payments on a daily basis to a bank account from which the state of Tennessee will electronically debit those payments for the purpose of obtaining funds to distribute the child support obligations to the obligee. The clerk, by written agreement with the department, may disburse child support receipts directly to the obligee.

(E) In all Title IV-D child support cases, child support payments shall be made by the obligor to the clerk of the court, or the department if the clerk is not participating in the statewide Title IV-D child support computer system under subdivision (a)(4)(C)(iii). In Title IV-D child support cases, where the obligor has been ordered to make child support payments to the clerk, or the department if the clerk is not participating in the statewide Title IV-D child support computer system under subdivision (a)(4)(C)(iii), no credit shall be given to an obligor for any payments made by the obligor or by another person on behalf of the obligor, directly to an obligee or the obligor's child or children unless the obligee remits the payment to the department or the participating clerk. In the event that a Title IV-D case is instituted subsequent to the establishment of an order of child support, the department will notify the obligor and obligee and the appropriate clerk of this fact, and all payments of child support in Title IV-D cases shall be made by the obligor to the department or the clerk, as appropriate under subdivision (a)(4)(E), without further order of the court.

(5) Any order for child support shall be a judgment entitled to be enforced as any other judgment of a court of this state and shall be entitled to full faith and credit in this state and in any other state. Such judgment shall not be subject to modification as to any time period or any amounts due prior to the date that an action for modification is filed and notice of the action has been mailed to the last known address of the opposing parties. If the full amount of child support is not paid by the date upon which the ordered support is due, the unpaid amount is in arrears and shall become a judgment for the unpaid amounts and shall accrue interest from the date of the arrearage at the rate of twelve percent (12%) per annum. All interest which accumulates on arrearages shall be considered child support. Computation of interest shall not be the responsibility of the clerk.

(6)(A) In Title IV-D child support cases the department of human services is enforcing, the department shall provide a child support obligor notice ninety (90) days prior to the eighteenth birthday of a child or children for whom the obligor is paying child support, as such birthday is indicated by the department's records.

(B) If the following conditions are met, then the obligor may seek termination of the order of support and may also request that the department, as required by federal law, assist in seeking termination of the order:

(i) The department's records demonstrate that the child for whom an order of support in a Title IV-D child support case has been entered has reached eighteen (18) years of age and has graduated from high school, or that the class of which the child is a member when the child reached eighteen (18) years of age has graduated from high school, the obligor has otherwise provided the department with written documentation of such facts, or the obligor has provided the department with written documentation that a child for whom the obligor is required to pay support has died or has married;

(ii) No other special circumstances exist including, but not limited to, the circumstances provided for in subsection (p) regarding disabled children, that require the obligation to continue;

(iii) The obligor does not owe arrearages to the obligee parent, any guardian or custodian of the child, the department of human services, any other agency of the state of Tennessee, or any other Title IV-D agency of any state;

(iv) The costs of court have been paid; and

(v) There are no other children for whom the obligor is required to pay child support.

(C)(i) If the conditions of subdivisions (a)(6)(B)(i)-(v) exist in the Title IV-D case as shown by the department's records, or such conditions exist based upon the written documentation provided by the obligor and verified by the department, then the department shall immediately suspend the order of support temporarily for the child who has reached majority. If the existing court order was the result of a deviation from the child support guidelines, the department immediately shall seek from the court termination of the support order for such child, and shall provide the obligee with notice of the filing of the petition to terminate such order.

(ii) If the existing order was not the result of a deviation from the child support guidelines, the department shall give notice to the obligee and to the other obligor of the temporary suspension of the order based upon verification of the status of the case pursuant to subdivision (a)(6)(B), of its intent to permanently terminate the support order by an administrative order, which the department may issue for such purpose, and of the opportunity for a hearing upon the issue of permanent termination of the order.

(iii) If the obligee contests the temporary suspension of the order of support under the circumstances of subdivisions (a)(6)(B)(i)-(v) and prevails following entry of the court or administrative order, the obligor shall pay the support amounts and any other arrearages or court costs not paid as a result of the temporary suspension of the order. The administrative order shall be filed with the clerk of the court having jurisdiction of the case.

(D)(i) If the conditions of subdivisions (a)(6)(B)(i)-(iv) are met in the Title IV-D case, but there are other children for whom the obligor is still obligated to support, the department shall immediately conduct a review of the support order and shall seek its adjustment if appropriate under the child support guidelines for such children. The obligor shall continue to make child support payments in accordance with the existing order until the court or department modifies the order pursuant to this subdivision (a)(6)(D).

(ii) If the existing court order was the result of a deviation from the child support guidelines, the department shall seek modification of the support order from the court, and shall provide the obligee and the obligor with notice of the filing of the petition to modify such order.

(iii) If the existing order was not the result of a deviation from the child support guidelines, and the department reviews the order and determines that the order should be modified pursuant to such guidelines, then the department shall notify the parties of its intent to modify the support order by an administrative order, which the department may issue for such purpose, and shall notify the parties of the opportunity for a hearing upon the issue of modification of the order.

(iv) The support order shall be modified as established by order of the court or the department as required pursuant to the child support guidelines. If the modified payment amount is lower than the payment amount required prior to the modification, then the obligor shall be given credit for such amount against future payments of support for the remaining children under the order. If the modified payment amount is higher than the payment amount required prior to the modification, then the obligor shall pay the higher ordered amount from the date of entry of the order. The administrative order shall be filed with the clerk of the court having jurisdiction of the case.

(E) The department's review and adjustment process and the administrative hearing process outlined in this subdivision (a)(6) shall comply with any other due process requirements for notice to the obligor and obligee as may otherwise be required by this chapter.

(b) In addition to the remedies provided in part 5 of this chapter, but not as an alternative to those provisions, if a parent is more than thirty (30) days in arrears, the clerk of the court may, upon written application of the obligee parent, a guardian or custodian of the children, or the department of human services or its contractors in Title IV-D support cases, issue a summons or, in the discretion of the court, an attachment for such parent, setting a bond of not less than two hundred fifty dollars ($250) or, in the discretion of the court, up to the amount of the arrears, for such other proceedings as may be held in the matter. In addition, the court may at any time require an obligor parent to give security by bond with sufficient sureties approved by the court, or alternatively, in the absence of the judge from the court, approved by the clerk of the court, for payment of past, present, and future support due under the order of support. If the obligor parent thereafter fails to appear or fails without good cause to comply with the order of support, such bonds may be forfeited and the proceeds therefrom paid to the court clerk and applied to the order of support.

(c) In intrastate cases, jurisdiction to modify, alter or enforce orders or decrees for the support of children shall be determined in accordance with the provisions of parts 30 and 31 of this chapter.

(d)(1)(A) Spouses have traditionally strengthened the family unit through private arrangements whereby one (1) spouse focuses on nurturing the personal side of the marriage, including the care and nurturing of the children, while the other spouse focuses primarily on building the economic strength of the family unit. This arrangement often results in economic detriment to the spouse who subordinated such spouse's own personal career for the benefit of the marriage. It is the public policy of this state to encourage and support marriage, and to encourage family arrangements that provide for the rearing of healthy and productive children who will become healthy and productive citizens of our state.

(B) The general assembly finds that the contributions to the marriage as homemaker or parent are of equal dignity and importance as economic contributions to the marriage. Further, where one (1) spouse suffers economic detriment for the benefit of the marriage, the general assembly finds that the economically disadvantaged spouse's standard of living after the divorce should be reasonably comparable to the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage or to the post-divorce standard of living expected to be available to the other spouse, considering the relevant statutory factors and the equities between the parties.

(C) It is the intent of the general assembly that a spouse who is economically disadvantaged relative to the other spouse, be rehabilitated whenever possible by the granting of an order for payment of rehabilitative, temporary support and maintenance. To be rehabilitated means to achieve, with reasonable effort, an earning capacity that will permit the economically disadvantaged spouse's standard of living after the divorce to be reasonably comparable to the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage, or to the post-divorce standard of living expected to be available to the other spouse, considering the relevant statutory factors and the equities between the parties. Where there is relative economic disadvantage and rehabilitation is not feasible in consideration of all relevant factors, including those set out in this subsection (d), the court may grant an order for payment of support and maintenance on a long-term basis or until the death or remarriage of the recipient except as otherwise provided in subdivision (a)(3). An award of periodic alimony may be made either in addition to a rehabilitation award, where a spouse may be partially rehabilitated as defined in this subdivision (d)(1)(C), or instead of a rehabilitation award, where rehabilitation is not feasible. When appropriate, the court may also award transitional alimony as provided in subdivision (d)(1)(D).

Rehabilitative support and maintenance is a separate class of spousal support as distinguished from alimony in solido, periodic alimony, and transitional alimony. An award of rehabilitative, temporary support and maintenance shall remain in the court's control for the duration of such award, and may be increased, decreased, terminated, extended, or otherwise modified, upon a showing of a substantial and material change in circumstances. Rehabilitative support and maintenance shall terminate upon the death of the recipient. Such support and maintenance shall also terminate upon the death of the payor unless otherwise specifically stated. The recipient of the support and maintenance shall have the burden of proving that all reasonable efforts at rehabilitation have been made and have been unsuccessful.

(D) Transitional alimony means a sum of money payable by one (1) party to, or on behalf of, the other party for a determinate period of time. Transitional alimony shall terminate upon the death of the recipient and as provided in subdivision (a)(3) which provision shall apply to transitional alimony. Such support and maintenance shall also terminate upon the death of the payor unless otherwise specifically stated. The court may at the time of entry of the order to pay transitional alimony, order that it may terminate upon the occurrence of other conditions such as, but not limited to, the remarriage of the party receiving transitional alimony. Transitional alimony shall be nonmodifiable unless the parties otherwise agree in an agreement incorporated into the initial order of divorce, legal separation or order of protection or the court otherwise orders in the initial order or divorce, legal separation or order of protection. Transitional alimony is awarded when the court finds that rehabilitation is not necessary, but the economically disadvantaged spouse needs assistance to adjust to the economic consequences of a divorce, legal separation or other proceeding where spousal support may be awarded, such as a petition for an order of protection.

(E) In determining whether the granting of an order for payment of support and maintenance to a party is appropriate, and in determining the nature, amount, length of term, and manner of payment, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including:

(i) The relative earning capacity, obligations, needs, and financial resources of each party including income from pension, profit sharing or retirement plans and all other sources;

(ii) The relative education and training of each party, the ability and opportunity of each party to secure such education and training, and the necessity of a party to secure further education and training to improve such party's earning capacity to a reasonable level;

(iii) The duration of the marriage;

(iv) The age and mental condition of each party;

(v) The physical condition of each party, including, but not limited to, physical disability or incapacity due to a chronic debilitating disease;

(vi) The extent to which it would be undesirable for a party to seek employment outside the home because such party will be custodian of a minor child of the marriage;

(vii) The separate assets of each party, both real and personal, tangible and intangible;

(viii) The provisions made with regard to the marital property as defined in § 36-4-121;

(ix) The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage;

(x) The extent to which each party has made such tangible and intangible contributions to the marriage as monetary and homemaker contributions, and tangible and intangible contributions by a party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party;

(xi) The relative fault of the parties in cases where the court, in its discretion, deems it appropriate to do so; and

(xii) Such other factors, including the tax consequences to each party, as are necessary to consider the equities between the parties.

(2) An award of rehabilitative, temporary support and maintenance shall remain in the court's control for the duration of such award, and may be increased, decreased, terminated, extended, or otherwise modified, upon a showing of substantial and material change in circumstances. Rehabilitative support and maintenance shall terminate upon the death of the recipient. Such support and maintenance shall also terminate upon the death of the payor unless otherwise specifically stated. The recipient of the support and maintenance shall have the burden of proving that all reasonable efforts at rehabilitation have been made and have been unsuccessful.

(e)(1)(A) In making its determination concerning the amount of support of any minor child or children of the parties, the court shall apply as a rebuttable presumption the child support guidelines as provided in this subsection. If the court finds that evidence is sufficient to rebut this presumption, the court shall make a written finding that the application of the child support guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate in that particular case, in order to provide for the best interest of the child(ren) or the equity between the parties. Findings that the application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate shall state the amount of support that would have been ordered under the child support guidelines and a justification for the variance from the guidelines.

(B) Notwithstanding any provision of this section or any other law or rule to the contrary, if the net income of the obligor exceeds ten thousand dollars ($10,000) per month, then the custodial parent must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that child support in excess of the amount, [calculated by multiplying the appropriate percentage set forth in the child support guidelines by a net income of ten thousand dollars ($10,000) per month], is reasonably necessary to provide for the needs of the minor child or children of the parties. In making its determination, the court shall consider all available income of the obligor, as required by this chapter, and shall make a written finding that child support in excess of the amount so calculated is or is not reasonably necessary to provide for the needs of the minor child or children of the parties.

(C) When making retroactive support awards pursuant to the child support guidelines established pursuant to this subsection (e), in cases where the parents of the minor child are separated or divorced, but where the court has not entered an order of child support, the court shall consider the following factors as a basis for deviation from the presumption in the child support guidelines that child and medical support for the benefit of the child shall be awarded retroactively to the date of the parents' separation or divorce:

(i) Whether the remaining spouse knew or could have known of the location of the child or children who had been removed from the marital home by the abandoning spouse; or

(ii) Whether the abandoning spouse, or other caretaker of the child, intentionally, and without good cause, failed or refused to notify the remaining spouse of the location of the child following removal of the child from the marital home by the abandoning spouse; and

(iii) The attempts, if any, by the abandoning spouse, or other caretaker of the child, to notify the remaining spouse of the location of the child following removal of the child from the marital home by the abandoning spouse.

(D) In cases in which the presumption of the application of the guidelines is rebutted by clear and convincing evidence, the court shall deviate from the child support guidelines to reduce, in whole or in part, any retroactive support. The court must make a written finding that application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate in order to provide for the best interests of the child or the equity between the parties.

(E) Deviations shall not be granted in circumstances where, based upon clear and convincing evidence:

(i) The remaining spouse has a demonstrated history of violence or domestic violence toward the abandoning spouse, the child's caretaker or the child;

(ii) The child is the product of rape or incest of the mother by the father of the child;

(iii) The abandoning spouse has a reasonable apprehension of harm from the remaining spouse or those acting on the remaining spouse's behalf toward the abandoning spouse or the child; or

(iv) The remaining spouse, or those acting on the remaining spouse's behalf, has abused or neglected the child.

(F) In making any deviations from awarding child and medical support retroactively to the separation or divorce of the parties, the court shall make written findings of fact and conclusions of law to support the basis for the deviation, and shall include in the order the total amount of retroactive child and medical support that would have been paid retroactively to the separation or divorce of the parties, had a deviation not been made by the court.

(G) Nothing in this subdivision (e)(1) shall limit the right of the state of Tennessee to recover from the father or the remaining spouse expenditures made by the state for the benefit of the child, or the right, or obligation, of the Title IV-D child support agency to pursue retroactive support for the custodial parent or caretaker of the child where appropriate.

(H) Any amounts of retroactive support ordered that have been assigned to the state of Tennessee pursuant to § 71-3-124 shall be subject to the child support distribution requirements of 42 U.S.C. § 657. In such cases, the court order shall contain any language necessary to allow the state to recover the assigned support amounts.

(2) Beginning October 13, 1989, the child support guidelines promulgated by the department pursuant to the rulemaking provisions of the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, compiled in title 4, chapter 5, shall be the guidelines that courts shall apply as a rebuttable presumption in child support cases.

(3) Child support guidelines shall be reviewed at least every four (4) years from the date of promulgation and revised, if necessary, to ensure that the application of the guidelines results in the determination of appropriate child support award amounts.

(4)(A) In addition to any other subtractions, calculations of net income under the guidelines shall take into consideration the support of any other children the obligor is legally responsible to provide. The court shall consider children of the obligor who are not included in a decree of child support, but for whom the obligor is legally responsible to provide support and is supporting for the purposes of reducing the obligor's net income, in calculating the guideline amount, or as a reason for deviation from the guidelines.

(B) In calculating amounts of support for children under the guidelines, the court shall allocate an obligor's financial child support responsibility from the obligor's income among all children of the obligor for whom the obligor is legally responsible to provide support and is supporting, in a manner that gives equitable consideration as defined by the department's child support guidelines, to the children for whom support is being set in the case before the court and to any other children for whom the obligor is legally responsible and is supporting. The court shall require that payments made out of that allocation for all children of the obligor for whom the obligor is legally responsible and is supporting, be made upon such consideration. Guidelines promulgated by the department shall be consistent with the provisions of this subdivision (e)(4).

(f)(1) The court may direct the acquisition or maintenance of health insurance covering each child of the marriage and may order either party to pay all, or each party to pay a pro rata share of, the health care costs not paid by insurance proceeds. The court may also direct a party to pay the premiums for insurance insuring the health care costs of the other party.

(2) In any case in which the court enters an order of support in a case enforced under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, the court shall enter an order providing for health care coverage to be provided for the child or children.

(3) The provisions of § 36-5-501(a)(3) shall apply with respect to enrollment of a child in the noncustodial parent's employer-based health care plan.

(g) The court may direct either or both parties to designate the other party and the children of the marriage as beneficiaries under any existing policies insuring the life of either party and maintenance of existing policies insuring the life of either party, or the purchase and maintenance of life insurance and designation of beneficiaries.

(h) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the affirmation, ratification and incorporation in a decree of an agreement between the parties as to support and maintenance of a party or as to child support. In any such agreement, the parties must affirmatively acknowledge that no action by the parties will be effective to reduce child support after the due date of each payment, and that they understand that court approval must be obtained before child support can be reduced, unless such payments are automatically reduced or terminated under the terms of the agreement.

(i) The court may, in its discretion, at any time pending the suit, upon motion and after notice and hearing, make any order that may be proper to compel a spouse to pay any sums necessary for the support and maintenance of the other spouse and to enable such spouse to prosecute or defend the suit and to provide for the custody and support of the minor children of the parties during the pendency of the suit, and to make other orders as it deems appropriate. Spousal support may include expenses of job training and education. In making any order under this subsection, the court shall consider the financial needs of each spouse and the children, and the financial ability of each spouse to meet those needs and to prosecute or defend the suit.

(j) In making any decree or order pursuant to this section, the court shall consider the provisions of § 34-11-102(b) [transferred to § 34-1-102(b)].

(k) Absent a court order to the contrary, if an arrearage for child support or fees due as court costs exist at the time an order for child support would otherwise terminate, the order of support or any then existing income withholding arrangement and all amounts ordered for payment of current support or arrears, including any arrears due for court costs, shall continue in effect in an amount equal to the then existing support order or income withholding arrangement until the arrearage and costs due are satisfied and the court may enforce all orders for such arrearages by contempt.

(l) As used in this chapter, "order," where the context requires, includes an order concerning child or medical support issued pursuant to an administrative proceeding in any other state.

(m) In establishing or enforcing any duty of support under this chapter, the court shall give full faith and credit to all paternity determinations of any other state or territory made pursuant to a voluntary acknowledgement or pursuant to any administrative or judicial process.

(n)(1) A voluntary acknowledgement of paternity which is completed under the provisions of § 68-3-203(g), § 68-3-302, or § 68-3-305(b) or under similar provisions of another state or government, when certified by the state registrar or other governmental or institutional entity maintaining the record of the acknowledgement, shall be a basis for establishing a support order without requiring any further proceedings to establish paternity.

(2) The state of Tennessee, its officers, employees, agents or contractors, any counties, county officials, the clerks of any court, or any Title IV-D child support enforcement agency shall not be liable in any case to compensate any person for repayment of child support paid or for any other costs as a result of the rescission pursuant to § 24-7-113 of any voluntary acknowledgment or the rescission of any orders of legitimation, paternity, or support.

(o)(1) In enforcing any provision of child support, if an obligee, or the department or its contractor in Title IV-D cases, specifically prays for revocation of a license because an obligor is alleged to be in noncompliance with an order of support, or if the court determines on its own motion or on motion of a party that any individual party has failed to comply with a subpoena or a warrant in connection with the establishment or enforcement of an order of support, the court may find specifically in its order that the obligor is not in compliance with an order of support as defined by part 7 of this chapter, or it may find that an individual party has failed to comply with a subpoena or warrant in connection with the establishment or enforcement of an order of support, and may direct that any or all of the obligor's or individual party's licenses be subject to revocation, denial or suspension by the appropriate licensing authority pursuant to part 7 of this chapter. The court shall direct the clerk to send a copy of that order to the department of human services to be sent by the department to each licensing authority specified in the order for processing and suspension, denial or revocation pursuant to § 36-5-706 and any other applicable provisions of part 7 of this chapter. Costs related to such order shall be taxed to the obligor or individual party.

(2) If the obligor whose license has been subject to the provisions of subdivision (o)(1) complies with the order of support, or if the individual party complies with the subpoena or warrant, the court shall enter an order making such a finding and the clerk shall send an order immediately to the department of human services to be transmitted to each licensing authority specified in the order which shall then immediately issue, renew or reinstate the obligor's or individual party's license in accordance with the provisions of § 36-5-707. Costs related to such order shall be taxed to the obligor or individual party as the case may be and shall be paid by the obligor or the individual party prior to sending the order to the department for transmission to the licensing authority.

(3) The department shall provide available information to the obligee or party or the court in actions under this subsection concerning the name and address of the licensing authority or authorities of the obligor or individual party in order to enable the enforcement of the provisions of this subsection. The obligee or individual party, as the case may be, seeking such information shall pay a fee as established by the department for the provision of such service. These fees may be taxed as costs to the obligor whose license has been revoked pursuant to this subsection or to the individual party who has failed to comply with the warrant or subpoena.

(4) If the licensing authority fails to take appropriate action pursuant to the orders of the court under this subsection, the party may seek a further order from the court to direct the licensing authority to take such action and the party may seek any appropriate court sanctions against the licensing authority.

(5) For purposes of this subsection, "individual party" means a party to the support action who is a person, but does not include a governmental agency or the contractor or agent of such governmental agency which is enforcing an order of support. "Party" may include, where the context requires, an individual person or it may include a governmental agency or contractor or agent of such governmental agency.

(p)(1) Except as provided in subdivision (p)(2), the court may continue child support beyond a child's minority for the benefit of a child who is handicapped or disabled, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, until such child reaches twenty-one (21) years of age.

(2) Provided, that such age limitation shall not apply if such child is severely disabled and living under the care and supervision of a parent and the court determines that it is in the child's best interest to remain under such care and supervision and the obligor is financially able to continue to pay child support. In such cases, the court may require the obligor to continue to pay child support for such period as it deems in the best interest of the child.

(3) In so doing, the court may use the child support guidelines.

(q)(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, neither the department of human services, nor any Title IV-D child support contractor of the department, nor any recipient of public assistance in this or any other state or territory, nor any applicant for either public assistance in this or any other state or territory or for Title IV-D child support services from the department or any other Title IV-D agency in this or any other state or territory, shall be required to demonstrate to a court or administrative tribunal that the caretaker of the child for whom child support is sought is vested with any more than physical custody of the subject child or children in order to have standing to petition for child support from the legal parent of the child or children for whom support is sought, or to seek enforcement or modification of any existing orders involving such child or children.

(2) Legal custody of a child to whom a child support obligation is owed shall not be a prerequisite to the initiation of any support action or to the enforcement or modification of any support obligation in such cases, whether or not the obligation has been assigned to this state or any other state or territory by operation of law.

(r) In any Title IV-D case, if the court grants relief, whether in whole or in part, to the department of human services or to the department's Title IV-D contractor or to any applicant for Title IV-D child support services, the court shall not tax any court costs against the department, the Title IV-D contractor or against any applicant for child support services. The court shall not award attorneys fees against the department, the Title IV-D contractor or against any applicant for child support services unless there is a clearly established violation of Rule 11 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure or for other contemptuous or other sanctionable conduct. This provision is not intended to limit the discretion of the courts to tax costs to the individual parties on non-Title IV-D issues such as custody or visitation.

(s) The order of any court or administrative tribunal directing that an obligor pay a sum certain to reduce any support arrearage shall not preclude the use by the department of human services or its contractors in the Title IV-D child support program of any other administrative means of collecting the remaining balance of the outstanding arrearage including, but not limited to, income tax refund intercepts, financial institution collections, enforcement of liens, or any other method authorized by law. The use of any additional administrative means of collection by the department or its contractors in the Title IV-D child support program is expressly authorized to reduce any portion, or all, of the outstanding balance of support as shown by the department's records, and any order of the court or administrative tribunal to the contrary is without any effect whatsoever, except for such appeal as may lie from the implementation of the administrative procedure which is used to reduce the arrearage.

(t) No provision, finding of fact or conclusion of law in a final decree of divorce or annulment or other declaration of invalidity of a marriage which provides that the husband is not the father of a child born to the wife during the marriage or within three hundred (300) days of the entry of the final decree, or which names another person as the father of such child shall be given preclusive effect unless scientific tests to determine parentage are first performed and the results of the test which exclude the husband from parentage of the child or children or which establish paternity in another person are admitted into evidence. The results of such parentage testing shall only be admitted into evidence in accordance with the procedures established in § 24-7-112.

36-5-102. Portion of spouse's estate decreed to spouse entitled to alimony or support - Maintenance of minor custodial parent.

(a) In cases where the court orders alimony or child support in accordance with § 36-5-101, the court may decree to the spouse who is entitled to such alimony or child support such part of the other spouse's real and personal estate as it may think proper. In doing so, the court may have reference and look to the property which either spouse received by the other at the time of the marriage, or afterwards, as well as to the separate property secured to either by marriage contract or otherwise.

(b) In addition to child support, a judge may require the non-custodial adult parent, who is not the legal spouse of the custodial parent, to pay an amount for the maintenance and support of the custodial parent if the custodial parent of the child is a minor. Such amount shall be determined by the court based on the non-custodial parent's ability to pay and shall be in addition to any court-ordered child support. Any order requiring the non-custodial parent to pay an additional amount for the maintenance and support of the custodial parent shall continue to be effective after the custodial parent reaches eighteen (18) years of age if the custodial parent is in high school. Such order shall continue until the custodial parent marries or graduates from high school or until the class of which the custodial parent is a member when the custodial parent attains eighteen (18) years of age graduates, whichever occurs first. As used in this subsection, "maintenance and support of the custodial parent" may also include counseling and other special medical services needed by the custodial parent.

36-5-103. Enforcement of decree for alimony and support.

(a)(1) In addition to the remedies in part 5 of this chapter, the court shall enforce its orders and decrees by requiring the obligor to post a bond or give sufficient personal surety under § 36-5-101(b) to secure past, present, and future support, unless the court finds that the payment record of the obligor parent, the availability of other remedies and other relevant factors make the bond or surety unnecessary.

(2) The court may enforce its orders and decrees by sequestering the rents and profits of the real estate of the obligor against whom such order or decree was issued, if such obligor has any, and such obligor's personal estate and choses in action, and by appointing a receiver thereof, and from time to time causing the same to be applied to the use of the obligee and the children, or by such other lawful means the court deems necessary to assure compliance with its orders, including, but not limited to, the imposition of a lien against the real and personal property of the obligor.

(b) In intrastate cases, jurisdiction to modify, alter or enforce orders or decrees for the support of children shall be determined in accordance with the provisions of parts 30 and 31 of this chapter.

(c) The plaintiff spouse may recover from the defendant spouse, and the spouse or other person to whom the custody of the child, or children, is awarded may recover from the other spouse reasonable attorney fees incurred in enforcing any decree for alimony and/or child support, or in regard to any suit or action concerning the adjudication of the custody or the change of custody of any child, or children, of the parties, both upon the original divorce hearing and at any subsequent hearing, which fees may be fixed and allowed by the court, before whom such action or proceeding is pending, in the discretion of such court.

(d) No state court order shall preclude the department of human services from implementing federal requirements for the interception of federal income tax refunds of an obligor for the payment of arrearages of child support.

(e) The commissioner of human services is expressly authorized to issue an administrative order of income assignment to the commissioner of labor and workforce development against any wages or wage benefits to which an obligor is entitled. Such administrative order shall be based upon and issued pursuant to an order from a court of competent jurisdiction or pursuant to state or local law, shall be deemed to be legal process in the nature of a garnishment pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 662(e) [repealed], and shall direct the payment of child or spousal support by an obligor parent.

(1) Administrative orders of income assignment issued pursuant to the authority of this part may, in the discretion of the commissioner of human services, be delivered to a representative of the commissioner for the purpose of execution, and such representative shall have the power and authority to levy and execute such administrative order.

(2) The administrative order of income assignment authorized by this section may be directed to, and effectively served upon, the commissioner of labor and workforce development by electronically transmitted data to compel the assignment of unemployment benefits in order to satisfy the legal obligation of obligor parents to provide child support payments. The transmission of any such order by the commissioner of human services shall be certification by the commissioner of the existence of the underlying court order and that the procedural requirements for notice to the obligor parent as required by part 5 of this chapter have been satisfied. The administrative order shall show the amount to be deducted from the obligor's unemployment compensation benefits by the department of labor and workforce development so as to comply with the underlying court order, and with any applicable statutes, rules, regulations, or inter-departmental agreements and, when necessary, the order shall contain the last known address of the obligor parent.

(3) The state child support enforcement computer system records shall be the official records of child support orders and child support-related spousal support orders and payment records for purposes of this subsection.

(4) If it is determined that the department of labor and workforce development has erroneously or wrongfully withheld benefits from an individual and delivered such benefits to the department of human services pursuant to a commissioner's order of income assignment, the department of human services will pay the correct amount to the individual to correct the erroneous payment.

(f)(1)(A) Every three (3) years, upon request of the custodial or noncustodial parent, or any other caretaker of the child, or, if there is an assignment of support pursuant to title 71, chapter 3, part 1, upon the request of the department or upon the request of the custodial or noncustodial parent, or of any other caretaker of the child, then, in any support order subject to enforcement under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, the department shall review, and, if appropriate, seek an adjustment of the order in accordance with child support guidelines established pursuant to § 36-5-101(e) without a requirement for proof or showing of any other change in circumstances. If at the time of the review, there is a "significant variance", as defined by the department's child support guidelines, between the current support order and the amount that would be ordered under the department's child support guidelines, the department shall seek an adjustment of the order.

(B) In the case of a request for review that is made between three-year cycles, the department shall review, and, if the requesting party demonstrates to the department that there has been a substantial change in circumstances, the department shall seek an adjustment to the support order in accordance with the guidelines established pursuant to § 36-5-101(e). For purposes of this subsection (f), a "substantial change in circumstances" shall be a "significant variance", as defined by the department's child support guidelines, between the amount of the current order and the amount that would be ordered under the department's child support guidelines.

(C) The review and adjustment in subdivisions (f)(1)(A) and (f)(1)(B) may be conducted by the court, or by the department by issuance of an administrative order by the department or its contractors.

(2) As an alternative to the method described in subdivision (f)(1) for review and adjustment, the child support order may be reviewed, and the order may be adjusted by an administrative order issued by the department or its contractors by:

(A) Applying a cost-of-living adjustment to the order in accordance with a formula developed by the department; or

(B) Using automated methods, including automated comparisons with wage data to identify orders eligible for review, conduct the review, identify orders eligible for adjustment, and apply the appropriate adjustment to the orders eligible for adjustment based upon a threshold developed by the department.

(3) The methods for adjustment of orders of support by issuance of an administrative order pursuant to this section shall be promulgated in the department's rules.

(4) The department shall give written notice to the obligor and obligee that a review of the order of support has been initiated.

(5) The department shall give written notice to the obligor and obligee of the review findings. If the department elects to seek the adjustment of the support order by issuance of an administrative order instead of by judicial order, notice of the proposed administrative adjustment to the order of support shall be sent to the last known address of the obligor and obligee thirty (30) calendar days prior to the issuance of the administrative order adjusting the order of support pursuant to the same procedures for service of administrative orders described in § 36-5-807.

(6)(A) The obligor and obligee shall have the right to contest the proposed administrative adjustment to the order of support within thirty (30) days of the mailing date of the notice of the proposed administrative adjustment to the order of support by filing a motion for a hearing on the proposed adjustment with the court having jurisdiction to modify the order of support and by providing notice of the hearing to the department by copy of such motion.

(B) The review by the court shall be completed within timeframes established by federal law.

(C) If the obligor or obligee contests the proposed administrative adjustment pursuant to the procedure in this subdivision (f), no further administrative appeal to the department shall be available, and further appeal of the modified support order entered by the court shall be made pursuant to the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure.

(7) If the obligor or obligee does not contest the proposed administrative adjustment to the order of support within thirty (30) calendar days of the mailing date of the notice of the proposed adjustment pursuant to the provisions of subdivision (f)(6), the department shall issue the administrative order adjusting the order of support.

(8) A copy of an administrative order of adjustment of the child support order shall be sent to the clerk of the court that has jurisdiction of the child support order that has been administratively adjusted and it shall be filed in the court record. A copy of the order shall be sent to the obligor and the obligee by the department by general mail at the last known address shown in the department's records.

(9) If an order of support is adjusted by administrative order of the department pursuant to subdivision (f)(7), the obligor and obligee shall have the right to administratively appeal the adjustment by requesting the appeal to the department as provided in part 10 of this chapter. The obligor or obligee may request a stay of the administrative order pursuant to the provisions of the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, compiled in title 4, chapter 5. The appeal from any decision resulting from the administrative appeal shall be to the court having jurisdiction of the support order and shall be subject to the scope of review as provided pursuant to the provisions of § 36-5-1003.

(10) Notice of the right to request a review, and, if appropriate, adjust the child support order shall be sent to the obligor and the obligee by the department at least every three (3) years for a child subject to an order being enforced pursuant to Title IV-D of the Social Security Act. The notice may be included in the order.

(11) The requirement for review and adjustment may be delayed if the best interests of the child require. Such interests would include the threat of physical or emotional harm to the child if the review and adjustment were to occur or the threat of severe physical or emotional harm to the child's custodial parent or caretaker.

(g) Judgments for child support payments for each child subject to the order for child support pursuant to this part shall be enforceable without limitation as to time.

36-5-104. Failure to comply with child support order - Criminal sanctions.

(a) Any person, ordered to provide support and maintenance for a minor child or children, who fails to comply with the order or decree, may, in the discretion of the court, be punished by imprisonment in the county workhouse or county jail for a period not to exceed six (6) months.

(b) No arrest warrant shall issue for the violation of any court order of support if such violation occurred during a period of time in which the obligor was incarcerated in any penal institution and was otherwise unable to comply with the order.

(c) In addition to the sanction provided in subsection (a), the court shall have the discretion to require an individual who fails to comply with the order or decree of support and maintenance to remove litter from the state highway system, public playgrounds, public parks, or other appropriate locations for any prescribed period or to work in a recycling center or other appropriate location for any prescribed period of time in lieu of or in addition to any of the penalties otherwise provided; provided, however, that any person sentenced to remove litter from the state highway system, public playgrounds, public parks, or other appropriate locations or to work in a recycling center shall be allowed to do so at a time other than such person's regular hours of employment.

36-5-105. Intestacy of plaintiff spouse - Effect on alimony.

(a) If the bonds of matrimony have been dissolved at the suit of the plaintiff spouse, the defendant spouse shall not be entitled to any part of the real or personal estate of the plaintiff spouse in case of such plaintiff's intestacy. Any entitlement a spouse may have to alimony shall be decided on the basis of factors set forth in § 36-5-101.

(b) However, when the cause of divorce is irreconcilable differences under § 36-4-103, subsection (a) shall not apply if the parties have entered into a written marital dissolution agreement wherein the plaintiff consents to the payment to the defendant of alimony, either in lump sum form or periodic payments; provided, that such marital dissolution agreement is approved by the court granting the decree of divorce.

36-5-106. Reports pursuant to Fair Credit Reporting Act.

(a) The department of human services or any of its Title IV-D child support contractors shall report periodically to consumer reporting agencies (as defined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act ( 15 U.S.C. § 1681a(f)), the name of any noncustodial parent, of which the department or its Title IV-D contractors has a record, who is either current in payments of support or who is delinquent in the payment of support and the amount of the current obligation or arrears owed by such parent. Such information shall only be furnished to an entity which furnishes evidence to the department of human services that it meets the requirements to be defined as a consumer reporting agency pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

(b) For purposes of this section, "delinquent" means any occasion on which the full amount of ordered support ordered for or on behalf of a minor child, or for a spouse or former spouse of the obligor with whom the child is living to the extent the spousal support would be included for the purposes of 42 U.S.C. § 654(4), is not paid by the due date for arrears as defined in § 36-5-101(a)(5) unless an income assignment is in effect and the payor of income is paying pursuant to § 36-5-501(g).

(c) Reports of delinquent support and the amount of the arrears shall be made only after the noncustodial parent has been notified of the intended action at the last record address required by § 36-5-101(a)(4)(B), § 36-5-805, § 36-2-311, and § 37-1-151(b)(4)(C)-(F) or such other address as may be known to the department, and the noncustodial parent is afforded an opportunity for an administrative hearing before the department to contest the accuracy of such information. The noncustodial parent shall file a written request for appeal of the intended actions as provided by part 10 of this chapter.

36-5-113. Plans for payment of child support; work requirements.

(a)(1) In any case in which a child is receiving assistance under a state program funded under Title IV-A of the Social Security Act, including, but not limited to, temporary assistance as provided under title 71, and the payment of support for such child is overdue, then the department of human services may issue an administrative order to direct an individual who owes overdue support to such a child to pay the overdue support in accordance with a plan for payment of all overdue support.

(2) The plan shall require the obligor to pay the overdue amount in full, or by monthly installments, which are calculated to reduce the overdue amount by a reasonable payment over a reasonable period of time. The order may be enforced by either the court with jurisdiction of the support order or by the department pursuant to § 36-5-811 or § 36-5-812, or by any other remedies available for the collection or enforcement of current support.

(b) The department may also order the individual who is not incapacitated and who is subject to a plan requiring payment of the overdue support for a child receiving assistance under a state program funded under Title IV-A of the Social Security Act, including, but not limited to, temporary assistance as provided under title 71, to engage in work activities as required under § 71-3-154.

(c) A copy of the order issued pursuant to this section shall be filed with the court.

(d) An order issued by the department pursuant to this part may be appealed as provided in part 10 of this chapter.

(e) For purposes of this section, "overdue" support is defined as any occasion on which the full amount of support ordered for or on behalf of a minor child, or for a spouse or former spouse of the obligor with whom the child is living to the extent the spousal support would be included for the purposes of 42 U.S.C. 654 (4), is not paid by the due date for arrears as defined in § 36-5-101 (a)(5), unless an income assignment is in effect and the payer of income is paying pursuant to § 36-5-501 (g).

36-5-405. Actions for support.

(a) Any person seeking to set, enforce, modify or terminate support may commence such an action by filing a petition and testimony in the form prescribed by § 36-5-406 with the office of the clerk.

(b) When a petition is filed, the clerk shall designate a hearing date on the notice prescribed in this part or, in the alternative, shall designate a hearing date on the summons to be served by the sheriff if the petitioner elects to proceed by having the sheriff serve process to initiate this proceeding. The hearing date shall be within thirty (30) days of the date the petition is filed. If process is served by certified mail, the clerk shall then send a copy of the completed petition, testimony, and notice to respondent by certified mail, return receipt requested. The clerk shall give a copy of completed notice, petition, and testimony to petitioner.

(c) If the return receipt is not received by the hearing date, and the respondent fails to appear, then the referee shall direct the clerk to reissue the petition with a new notice of hearing and may direct service as set out in subsection (b), or may direct service by issuance of a summons to be served by the sheriff or process server, designated by the referee. If a petition is for contempt, either the referee or the judge may issue an attachment for the arrest of the respondent with a bond.

(d) If the respondent fails to appear after service and if the return receipt does bear the signature of respondent, the referee may grant the relief sought in the petition by default. If a petition is for contempt, either the referee or the judge may issue an attachment for the arrest of the respondent with a bond.

(e) If respondent does appear, the referee may enter a consent order if the parties reach an agreement and the referee finds the agreement to be reasonable.

(f) If the respondent appears and the parties do not agree, the referee shall hear testimony and issue an order granting such relief as the referee finds appropriate.

(g) Upon the conclusion of the hearing in each case, the referee shall transmit to the judge all papers relating to the case, along with the referee's findings and recommendations in writing. A referee's decision on a preliminary matter, not dispositive of the ultimate issue in the case, shall be final and not reviewable by the judge.

(h) Any party may, within five (5) days thereafter, excluding nonjudicial days, file a request for a hearing by the judge of the court having jurisdiction. The judge may, on the judge's own motion, order a rehearing of any matter heard before a referee, and shall allow a hearing if a request for such is filed as herein prescribed. Unless the judge orders otherwise, any recommendation of the referee shall be in effect pending rehearing or approval by the court.

(i) If a hearing before the judge is not requested, the findings and recommendations of the referee become the final decree of the court when confirmed by an order of the judge.

(j) There shall be no litigation tax and the clerk shall not refuse to file a petition for a party proceeding under this part for failure to pay a filing fee. When a party is unable to pay the filing fee, such party shall be required to take and subscribe to in writing the pauper's oath set out in § 20-12-127, and such affidavit shall be attached to such party's petition.

(k) Any party may appeal a final order entered under this section to the court of appeals. Any such appeal shall be governed by the applicable provisions of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure.

36-5-501. Income withholding.

(a)(1) For any order of child support issued, modified, or enforced on or after July 1, 1994, the court shall order an immediate assignment of the obligor's income, including but not necessarily limited to: wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses, workers' compensation, disability, payments pursuant to a pension or retirement program, profit sharing, interest, annuities, and other income due or to become due to the obligor. The order of assignment shall issue regardless of whether support payments are in arrears on the effective date of the order. The court's order, shall include an amount sufficient to satisfy an accumulated arrearage, if any, within a reasonable time. The order may also include an amount to pay any medical expenses which the obligor owing the support is obligated or ordered to pay. Withholding shall not exceed fifty percent (50%) of the employee's income after FICA, withholding taxes, and a health insurance premium which covers the child, are deducted. The order shall also include an amount necessary to cover the fee due the clerk of the court or the department, if appropriate. In the event the court does not order an immediate assignment pursuant to subdivision (a)(2), every order shall be enforceable by income assignment as provided in this chapter.

(2) Income assignment under this subsection shall not be required:

(A) If, in cases involving the modification of support orders, upon proof by one party, there is a written finding of fact in the order of the court that there is good cause not to require immediate income assignment and the proof shows that the obligor has made timely payment of previously ordered support. "Good cause" shall only be established upon proof that the immediate income assignment would not be in the best interests of the child. The court shall, in its order, state specifically why such assignment will not be in the child's best interests; or

(B) If there is a written agreement by both parties that provides for alternative arrangements. Such agreement must be reviewed by the court and entered in the record.

(C) If the case is being enforced under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act and is subject to an assignment of support due to receipt of public assistance, the department of human services or its contractor must be notified of the request for exemption under subdivisions (a)(2)(A) and (B) and may present evidence for purposes of subdivision (a)(2)(A), or must agree in order to permit exemption from income withholding as otherwise permitted pursuant to subdivision (a)(2)(B).

(3)(A) Unless a court or administrative order stipulates that alternative health care coverage to employer-based coverage is to be provided for a child subject to a Title IV-D child support order, in any case in which a noncustodial parent is required by a court or administrative order to provide health care coverage for such a child, and the employer of the noncustodial parent is known to the department, the department shall use any federally-required medical support notices to provide notice to the employer of the requirement for employer-based health care coverage for such child through the child's parent who has been ordered to provide health care coverage for such child. The department shall send the federal medical support notice to any employer of a noncustodial parent subject to such an order within two (2) business days of the entry of such employee who is an obligor in a Title IV-D case into the directory of new hires under title 36, chapter 5, part 11.

(B) Within twenty (20) business days after the date of the medical support notice, the employer of a noncustodial parent subject to an order for health care coverage for the child shall transfer the notice to the appropriate plan providing such health care coverage for which the child is eligible. The employer shall withhold from the noncustodial parent's compensation any employee contributions necessary for coverage of the child and shall send any amount withheld directly to the health care plan to provide such health care coverage for the child. If the employee contests the withholding of such employee contributions, the employer shall initiate withholding until the contest is resolved. The employee/obligor shall have the right to contest the withholding order issued pursuant to subdivision (a)(3) based upon a mistake of fact according to the provisions for appeal provided pursuant to title 36, chapter 5, part 10.

(C)(i) An employer shall notify the department promptly whenever the noncustodial parent's employment is terminated.

(ii) The department shall promptly notify the employer when there is no longer a current order for medical support in effect for which the department is responsible.

(D) The liability of the noncustodial parent for employee contributions to the health care plan necessary to enroll the child in the plan shall be subject to all available enforcement mechanisms under this title or any other provision of law.

(E) Upon receipt of the notice required by subdivision (a)(3) which appears regular on its face and which has been appropriately completed, the notice is deemed a qualified medical child support order under 29 U.S.C. § 1169(a)(5)(C)(i). The health insurance plan administrator of a participant under a group health plan who is the noncustodial parent of the child for whom the notice was received pursuant to this subdivision, shall, within forty (40) business days:

(i) Notify the state Title IV-D agency of any state or territory that issued the notice with respect to whether coverage is available for such child under the terms of the plan, and, if so, whether such child is covered under the plan and either the effective date of the coverage or, if necessary, any steps to be taken by the custodial parent, or official of a state or political subdivision thereof substituted for the name of the child pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 1169(a)(3)(A), to effectuate coverage. The department or its contractors, in consultation with the custodial parent, must promptly select from available plan options when the plan administrator reports that there is more than one (1) option available under the employer's plan; provided, however, if such response is not made to the plan administrator within twenty (20) business days, and if the plan has a default option for coverage, the plan administrator shall enroll the child in that default option. If there is no default option, the plan administrator may call the office of the department or contractor which sent the notice and seek direction as to the child's enrollment in the available plans;

(ii) Provide the custodial parent (or such substituted official) a description of the coverage available and any forms or documents necessary to effectuate such coverage and permit the custodial parent or substituted official to file claims;

(iii) Send the explanation of benefit statements to the custodial parent, substituted official and the employee;

(iv) Send the reimbursement to the custodial parent, legal guardian or substituted official for expenses paid by the custodial parent, legal guardian or substituted official for which the child may be eligible under the plan.

(v) Nothing in subdivision (a)(3)(E) shall be construed as requiring a group health plan, upon receipt of a medical support notice, to provide benefits under the plan, or eligibility for benefits, under the terms of the plan in addition to, or different from, those provided immediately before receipt of such notice, except as may otherwise be required by the provisions of title 56, chapter 7, part 23.

(b)(1)(A) In all cases in which the court has ordered immediate income assignment, the clerk of the court, or the department of human services or its contractor in Title IV-D cases, shall immediately issue an income assignment to an employer once the employer of an obligor has been identified.

(B) In all cases in which an immediate assignment of income has not been previously ordered, or in which an obligor who is ordered to pay child support in which an immediate income assignment was not required pursuant to subdivision (a)(2), and when the obligor becomes in arrears as defined in this subdivision as reflected in the records of the clerk of court, if the support is paid through the clerk's office or in the records of the department of human services, then the clerk of the court, or the department or its contractor in Title IV-D child support cases shall, without the necessity of an affidavit of the obligee, issue an order of income assignment to the employer of the obligor, if known, or at such time as the employer's name and whereabouts are made known to the clerk or the department or its contractor. No court order expressly authorizing an income assignment shall be required under this paragraph.

(C) The order of assignment issued by the department or its contractor pursuant to subdivisions (b)(1)(A) and (B) shall include an amount sufficient to satisfy an accumulated arrearage within a reasonable time without further order of the court. The order shall also include an amount to pay any medical expenses which the obligor owing the support is obligated or ordered to pay. Withholding shall not exceed fifty percent (50%) of the employee's income after FICA, withholding taxes, and a health insurance premium which covers the child, are deducted. The order shall also include an amount necessary to cover the fee due the clerk of the court, if appropriate.

(D) In all other cases in which the child support payments were ordered to be paid directly to a parent or guardian or custodian of the child or children, and the child support payments are in arrears as defined in this subdivision, the parent, guardian or custodian may, by affidavit filed with the clerk, or, the department or its contractor in Title IV-D child support cases, request that an order of income assignment be sent by the clerk of the court, or by the department, to the employer, if known, or at such time as the employer's name and whereabouts are made known to the clerk, the department or its contractor. No court order expressly authorizing an income assignment shall be required under this subdivision.

(E) The order of assignment issued by the clerk or the department or its contractor pursuant to subdivision (b)(1)(D) shall include an amount sufficient to satisfy an accumulated arrearage within a reasonable time. The order may also include an amount to pay any medical expenses which the obligor owing the support is obligated or ordered to pay. Withholding shall not exceed fifty percent (50%) of the employee's income after FICA, withholding taxes, and a health insurance premium which covers the child, are deducted. The order shall also include an amount necessary to cover the fee due the clerk of the court, if appropriate.

(F) An income assignment pursuant to this subsection shall be mandatory even if subsequent to the issuance of the order of assignment the obligor pays the amount of arrearage in part or in full as long as current support or arrearages are still owed.

(G) For purposes of this part, "arrears" means any occasion on which the full amount of ordered support ordered for or on behalf of a minor child, or for a spouse or former spouse of the obligor with whom the child is living to the extent the spousal support would be included for the purposes of 42 U.S.C. § 654a(e)(4), is not paid by the due date for arrears as defined in § 36-5-101(a)(5) unless an income assignment is in effect and the payor of income is paying pursuant to subsection (g).

(H) Clerks of court are authorized to issue an order of income assignment to the employer of the obligor and to institute the process to assign income when the obligor fails to pay court costs, but shall not have priority over the income assignment for child or spousal support.

(2) When an order of income assignment has been issued pursuant to subdivision (b)(1)(B) or (b)(1)(D), the clerk, or the department in Title IV-D cases, shall send a notice to the obligor within two (2) business days of the issuance of the order of income assignment being sent to the obligor's employer. If the assignment is made pursuant to subdivisions (b)(1)(B) or (b)(1)(D), the notice must be sent to the address of the obligor, if known, or to the obligor at the address of the employer of the obligor if the obligor's address is unknown.

(3) In addition to any other required or pertinent information, all notices of assignment sent to the obligor who resides in this state pursuant to this section shall include:

(A) The amount of money owed by the obligor, including both current support and arrears;

(B) The amount of income withholding, except where otherwise ordered by the court, which shall be applied for current support, the amount which shall be applied for arrearages and the amount to be applied for alimony. The amount withheld shall be an amount reasonably sufficient to satisfy an accumulated arrearage within a reasonable time;

(C) Notice that the obligor has the right to a hearing before the court, or, in Title IV-D cases, an administrative review by the department of human services. The administrative hearing shall be conducted pursuant to the provisions of part 10 of this chapter; and

(D) Notice that the obligor must request the hearing by notifying the clerk, or the department in Title IV-D cases, within fifteen (15) days of the date of the notice, or the date of personal service, if used.

(4) Orders of income assignment issued by the department of human services or its contractors shall be filed with the court.

(5)(A) In all Title IV-D child or spousal support cases in which payment of such support is to be made by income assignment, and in all cases where payments made by income assignment based upon support orders entered on or after January 1, 1994, that are not Title IV-D support cases but must be made to the central collection and disbursement unit as provided by § 36-5-116, the court, the clerk of court, or the department or its contractors shall only order that the support payments be made by income assignment to the central collection and disbursement unit pursuant to § 36-5-116. No agreement by the parties in a parenting plan, either temporary or permanent, entered pursuant to the provisions of title 36, chapter 6, part 4, or any other agreement of the parties or order of the court, except as may otherwise be allowed by § 36-5-501(a)(2)(B), shall alter the requirements for payment by income assignment to the central collection and disbursement unit as required by § 36-5-116, and any provision of any parenting plan, agreement or court order providing for any other payment procedure contrary to the requirements of § 36-5-116, whether or not approved by the court, except as may otherwise be allowed by § 36-5-501(a)(2)(B), shall be void and of no effect. No credit shall be given by the court, the court clerk or the department of human services for child or spousal support payments required by the support order that are made in contravention of such requirements; provided, however, the department may make any necessary adjustments to the balances owed to account for changes in the Title IV-D or central collection and disbursement status of the support case.

(B) The payment of child support through the centralized collection and disbursement unit established pursuant to § 36-5-116 does not establish the case as a Title IV-D case unless the case otherwise meets the criteria of § 71-3-124 for a case in which the department of human services will provide child support services to an assignor of support rights or to any person who has otherwise applied for such services.

(c)(1) In the event the obligor requests a hearing in cases not being enforced pursuant to Title IV-D regarding the withholding as provided in subdivisions (b)(1)(B) within fifteen (15) days of the date of the notice, or the date of personal service, if used, the clerk shall promptly docket the case with the referee or court as provided by part 4 of this chapter, shall give notice to all parties, and shall take any other action as is necessary to ensure that the time limits provided in subsection (d) are met.

(2) If the withholding was issued by the department or its contractor in Title IV-D cases and the obligor requests an administrative hearing as permitted by part 10 of this chapter, the department shall promptly schedule the case for a hearing, shall give notice to all parties, and shall take any other action as is necessary to ensure that the time limits provided in subsection (d) are met.

(d) In all cases in which the obligor requests a hearing or administrative review, the referee or court, or the department, shall conduct a hearing and make a determination, and the clerk or department shall notify the obligor and the employer of the decision within forty-five (45) days of the date of the order provided in subdivision (b)(1).

(e) The obligor may contest the results of the department's administrative review by requesting a judicial review as provided in part 10 of this chapter.

(f) The amount to be withheld under the income assignment withheld for support may not be in excess of fifty percent (50%) of the income due after FICA, withholding taxes, and a health insurance premium which covers the child are deducted.

(g)(1) The assignment or any subsequent modification is binding upon any employer, person or corporation, including successive employers, fourteen (14) days after mailing or other transmission or personal service of the order from the clerk of the court, or from the department by administrative order of income assignment, pursuant to this section. The amount withheld must be sent to the clerk or the department, or if based upon a direct withholding from another state pursuant to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act compiled in parts 20-29 of this chapter, shall be sent to the other state as directed by that order of assignment. The amount withheld shall be sent by the employer within seven (7) days of the date the person obligated to pay support is paid or the date such person is to be paid or the date the amount due such person is to be credited. The order is binding until further notice.

(2) The employer, person, corporation or institution shall provide notice to the clerk, the department, or the entity in the other state to which the withheld income was to be sent, and the division of employment security of the department of labor and workforce development, of termination of employment or income payments to the employee. Any employer, person, corporation or institution that files for bankruptcy or ceases to operate as a business shall provide notice to the clerk or the department of the bankruptcy or cessation of business upon filing bankruptcy or at least ten (10) days prior to ceasing to operate as a business. Any notice provided pursuant to this subsection (g) shall include the names of all the affected employees subject to an income assignment, the last known address of each of those employees, and the name and address of the new employer or source of income of each of those employees, if known.

(h) For any order of alimony in solido, in futuro or rehabilitative issued, modified or enforced on or after April 24, 2002, the court may order immediate assignment of the obligor's income, including, but not necessarily limited to: wages, salary, commissions, bonuses, workers' compensation, disability, payments pursuant to a pension or retirement program, profit sharing, interest, annuities and other income due or to become due to the obligor. The order of assignment shall issue regardless of whether support payments are in arrears on the effective date of the order. The court's order may include an amount sufficient to satisfy an accumulative arrearage, if any, within a reasonable time. Withholding shall not exceed fifty percent (50%) of the employee's income after FICA, withholding taxes, and a health insurance premium which covers the child, if any, are deducted. The order shall also include an amount necessary to cover the fee due the clerk of the court, if appropriate.

(i) It is unlawful for an employer to use the assignment as a basis for discharge or any disciplinary action against the employee. Compliance by an employer, other person, institution or corporation with the order shall operate as a discharge of the liability of such employer, other person, institution or corporation to the affected individual as to that portion of the income so affected. An employer shall be subject to a fine for a Class C misdemeanor if the income assignment is used as a basis to refuse to employ a person or to discharge the obligor/employee or for any disciplinary action against the obligor/employee or if the employer fails to withhold from the obligor's income or to pay such amounts to the clerk or to the department as may be directed by the withholding order.

(j)(1) An assignment under this section shall take priority over any other assignment or garnishment of wages, as described in title 26, chapter 2, or salary, commissions or other income, except those deductions made mandatory by law or hereafter made mandatory.

(2)(A) If the employer, person, corporation or institution receives more than one (1) order of income assignment against an individual, the employer, person, corporation or institution must comply by giving first priority to all orders for amounts due for current support due a child, second to all orders for amounts due for arrearages due a child, third to all orders for amounts due for current support due a spouse, and fourth to all orders for amounts due for arrearages due a spouse, and must honor all withholdings to the extent the total amount withheld from wages does not exceed fifty percent (50%) of the employee's wages after FICA and withholding taxes and a health insurance premium which covers the child are deducted.

(B) Any employer, person or entity receiving an order for income withholding from another state or territory shall apply the income withholding law of the state of the obligor's principal place of employment in determining:

(i) The employer's fee for processing an income withholding order;

(ii) The maximum amount permitted to be withheld from the obligor's income;

(iii) The time periods within which the employer must implement the income withholding order and forward the child support payment;

(iv) The priorities for withholding and allocating income withheld for multiple child support obligees; and

(v) Any withholding terms and conditions not specified in the order.

(C) The "principal place of employment" for an obligor who is employed in this state and for whom an income withholding order has been received in this state from another state or territory shall be deemed to be this state, and the provisions set forth in the requirements of this section regarding income withholding shall apply to the determinations made in (j)(2)(B)(i)-(v).

(3)(A) If any employer, person, or other entity receives any income assignment for current support against an individual which would cause the deduction from any two (2) or more assignments for current support to exceed fifty percent (50%) of the individual's income after FICA, withholding taxes, and a health insurance premium which covers the child are deducted, then the allocation of all current support ordered withheld by all income assignments they receive against that individual shall be determined by the employer, person, or entity as follows:

(i) The employer, person, or other entity shall determine the total dollar amount of the assignments for current support it has received involving the obligor to whom it owes any wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses, workers' compensation, disability, payments pursuant to a pension or retirement program, profit sharing, interest, annuities, and other income due or to become due to the obligor;

(ii) Each individual assignment shall then be calculated as a percentage of the total obtained pursuant to subdivision (j)(3)(A)(i);

(iii) The employer, person, or entity shall then allocate the available income of the obligor, subject to the limits described above, based on the percentage computation pursuant to subdivision (j)(3)(A)(ii) and shall, as directed by the order of income assignment, pay the amounts withheld from the obligor's income, to the clerk or clerks, or to the department, its contractor, or other entity or Title IV-D child support agency in any other state which issued such order.

(B) In the event all current support obligations are met from the assignments and support arrearages exist in more than one (1) case and there is not sufficient income to pay all ordered support arrearage, then the support arrearages shall be allocated on the same basis as set forth in subdivision (j)(3)(A).

(C) The obligor shall be responsible for seeking any modifications to the existing orders for support.

(4) An employer, person, corporation or institution may make one (1) payment to the clerk of the court, the department its contractor or other entity in another state so long as the employer separately identifies the portion of the single payment attributable to each individual obligor parent, and, if amounts are included which represent withholdings for more than one (1) pay period, so long as the amounts representing each pay period are separately identified.

(k)(1) "Employer, person, corporation or institution," as used in this section, includes the federal government, the state and any political subdivision thereof and any other business entity which has in its control funds due to be paid to a person who is obligated to pay child support.

(2) "Spousal support" for purposes of enforcement of child support by the department of human services under the Title IV-D child support program means a legally enforceable obligation assessed against an individual for the support of a spouse or former spouse who is living with a child or children who are receiving child support services from the department and for whom the individual also owes support. Income assignments pursuant to this part that are enforced as part of the Title IV-D services provided by the department shall apply to spousal support obligations as defined in this subdivision (k)(2).

(l) Any employer, person, corporation or institution which is ordered to pay an income assignment on behalf of an individual may charge the obligor parent an amount of up to five percent (5%) not to exceed five dollars ($5.00) per month for such service.

(m) The notices and orders required to be issued pursuant to this section shall be transmitted to any party or person by any method chosen by the court or the department, including but not limited to: certified mail, return receipt requested, regular mail, electronic mail, facsimile transmission, or by personal service, and may be generated by computer or on paper. The notices and orders required by this section need not be entered in the minutes of the court. If a notice or order is returned or otherwise not deliverable, then service shall be had by any alternative method chosen by the court or the department, as listed in this subsection. Before taking action against an employer or other payor for failure to comply with this part, the court or department shall ensure that service of the notice or order was made by certified mail or by personal service. Electronically reproduced signatures shall be effective to issue any orders or notices pursuant to this section.

(n) There shall be no litigation tax imposed on proceedings pursuant to this part.

(o)(1) The department of human services shall have authority to establish mandatory rules, forms, and any necessary standards and procedures to implement income assignments which shall be used by all the courts and by the department pursuant to this part. The department of human services may implement the use of such forms at any time following passage of this act by public necessity rule following approval by the attorney general and reporter. Permanent rules implementing the forms shall be promulgated pursuant to the rulemaking provisions of the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, compiled in title 4, chapter 5.

(2) Prior to the filing of a notice of rulemaking for permanent rules pursuant to this subsection, the rules shall be sent by the department for review by an advisory group composed of two (2) representatives of the state court clerks' conference appointed by the president of the state court clerks' association, two (2) representatives of the judges of courts which have child support responsibilities one of whom will be appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and one of whom will be appointed by the president of the council of juvenile and family court judges, a representative of the administrative office of the courts, and two (2) representatives of the department of human services designated by the commissioner. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to prevent the department from filing any notice of rulemaking prior to or at the time the proposed permanent rules are sent to the advisory group where the department determines that immediate filing of the notice without prior review by the advisory group is necessary to meet any requirements relative to the potential expiration of public necessity or emergency rules or to comply with any federal statutory or regulatory requirements or any federal policy directives.

(p) If any employer, person, corporation or institution fails or refuses to comply with the requirements of this section, then that employer, person, corporation or institution is liable for any amounts up to the accumulated amount that should have been withheld. In addition, that employer, person, corporation or institution may be subject to a civil penalty to be assessed and distributed pursuant to the requirements of this subsection (p).

(1) Upon the first failure to comply with an order of income assignment, that employer, person, corporation or institution may be subject to a civil penalty of one hundred dollars ($100) per obligor for whom an order of income assignment was received, two hundred dollars ($200) per obligor for the second failure to comply and five hundred dollars ($500) per obligor for each occurrence thereafter.

(2) The civil penalty, when assessed and collected by the department of human services, shall be prorated among the children for whom the income assignment order was issued and with which the employer, person, corporation or institution failed to comply. If there are multiple income assignments for an obligor, the prorated amounts of the civil penalty shall be distributed to the children in the proportion that each order for which the income assignment was issued is to the total amount of all income assignments with which the employer, person, corporation or institution failed to comply.

(3) The civil penalty amount received by the children shall not reduce in any manner the amount of support owed by the obligor parent, but shall be received in addition to all ordered child support.

(q)(1) Penalties authorized by this section shall be assessed by the commissioner of human services after written notice to the employer, person, corporation or institution. The notice shall provide fifteen (15) days from the mailing date of the notice for the employer, person, corporation or institution to file a written request to the department for appeal of the civil penalty. If an appeal is timely filed with the department, the department shall set an administrative hearing on the issue of the assessment pursuant to the provisions of the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, compiled in title 4, chapter 5, relative to contested case hearings. Failure to timely appeal the assessment of the civil penalty shall be final and conclusive of the correctness of the assessment.

(2) Any amount found owing shall be due and payable not later than fifteen (15) days after the mailing date of the determination. Failure to pay an assessment shall result in a lien against the real or personal property of the employer, person, corporation or institution in favor of the department. If an assessment is not paid when it becomes final, the department may collect the amount of the civil penalty by any available administrative enforcement procedures or by court action. The non-prevailing party shall be liable for all court costs and litigation taxes of the proceedings and shall be liable to the department for the cost of any private, contract or government attorney representing the state and for the time of any of its Title IV-D or contractor staff utilized in litigating the assessment.

(3) Any appeal of the action of the commissioner pursuant to this section shall be made in conformity with § 36-5-1003.

36-5-503. Termination of income assignment.

(a) The following procedures shall apply to termination of income assignment:

(1) Any party or its agents or assignees may seek termination of an order under this section if there are no arrearages owed by the obligor to the obligee parent, any guardian or custodian of the child, the department of human services or any other agency of the state of Tennessee, or any other Title IV-D agency of any state, the costs of court have been paid, and there are no longer any children to whom the obligor parent is obligated to pay support because:

(A) Of the marriage of the child or children;

(B) Of the death of the child or children;

(C) The child or children have reached majority and have graduated from high school, or the class of which the child is a member when the child attains eighteen (18) years of age graduates, whichever occurs later, and no other special circumstances requiring the obligation continue to exist.

(2) If there are children to whom the obligor is still obligated to pay support, though a change of circumstances has occurred as a result of the discontinuation of the obligation to at least one (1) child, the obligor may not seek termination of the income assignment order, but must seek modification of the support order. Upon obtaining modification of the support order, the clerk of court or the department or its contractors shall issue a modified income assignment;

(3) Parties seeking a change of custody, pursuant to § 36-6-101, may not seek termination under this provision but must request termination by the trial court if there is a change in custody ordered;

(4) The clerk of the court or the department of human services or its contractor in Title IV-D cases shall send the order and notice of termination of income assignment to the obligor parent, obligee parent, and employer, person, corporation, or institution upon the decision to terminate or not to terminate; and

(5)(A) In Title IV-D cases, when the department of human services or its contractor is informed or otherwise determines that the conditions of § 36-5-503(a)(1) have been met, then the department or its contractor shall administratively terminate or modify the income assignment order to reflect the change in circumstances pursuant to the child support guidelines in accordance with this section. In all other circumstances, modification or termination of an income assignment shall be obtained by court order.

(B) In cases where an income assignment order may be terminated or modified by administrative order, the department or its contractor shall notify both the obligor, or other payer, and the obligee of the proposed action with respect to the termination or modification action. The notice shall give both the obligor and the obligee fifteen (15) days in which to appeal the proposed action, pursuant to the appeal provisions of chapter 5, part 10 of this title.

(b) Each parent or other individual having custody of a child who is receiving support payments under an income assignment order shall notify the clerk, or the department of human services or its contractor in Title IV-D cases, at such time as any of the following occur:

(1) A child for whom support is being paid dies;

(2) A child for whom support is being paid marries;

(3) A child for whom support is being paid reaches such child's eighteenth birthday if the child is not in high school on that date; or

(4) A child for whom support is being paid graduates from high school (or the class of which the child is a member graduates if the child does not graduate with the class) if the child is eighteen (18) years of age prior to the date such child graduates.

(c)(1) The obligor parent may also seek termination or modification of a support order when the whereabouts of the obligee parent and child or children are unknown and the clerk of the court, or the department of human services or its contractor in Title IV-D cases, has been unable to forward past payments, and all arrearages owed to the state as a result of the custodian's receipt of public assistance have been paid.

(2) The obligor parent may either file a motion for termination or seek modification of the child support order when support payments equal to the amount due within one (1) month have been returned to the office of the clerk, or to the department or its contractor in Title IV-D cases, and all reasonable means to locate the obligee parent and child or children have been exhausted. The clerk of the court, or the department or its contractor in Title IV-D cases, shall notify the obligor parent that such payments have been returned to the clerk, or to the department or its contractor in Title IV-D cases. The obligor parent must submit an affidavit verifying that such obligor parent has exhausted reasonable efforts to locate the obligee parent and child or children.

(d) When a motion to terminate is filed, the clerk of the court shall proceed to set a hearing and serve the parties as provided in § 36-5-405. Upon receipt of a notice from the custodial parent or individual in accordance with subsection (b), or based upon the department's own records, the clerk or the department or its contractor in Title IV-D cases shall determine whether the income assignment order includes support for any other child or children and whether there are any accumulated arrearages due which have not been satisfied. If there are no other children and no arrearages, the clerk, or the department or its contractor in Title IV-D cases, after notification to the parties, shall notify the employer, person, corporation or institution withholding support that the income assignment is terminated. If there are other children and/or accumulated arrearages, the clerk or the department or its contractor in Title IV-D cases, after notification to the parties, shall send a new notice to the employer, person, corporation or institution withholding support specifying the correct amount to be withheld as a result of the change in circumstances.

(e) If the obligor parent wishes to file a motion for termination or to seek modification of the support order, such obligor parent must complete and file an affidavit affirming that such obligor parent has contacted a reasonable number of relatives and friends of the obligee parent and all lack any knowledge regarding the whereabouts of the custodian and child or children, and that such obligor parent has made other reasonable efforts to locate the obligee parent and child or children including:

(1) Mailing a letter to the obligee parent's last known address requesting a new mailing address;

(2) Checking the telephone directory and directory assistance for a listing of the obligee parent;

(3) Contacting the obligee parent's last attorney of record and inquiring as to whether the attorney can provide a current address;

(4) Contacting the obligee parent's last known place of employment (if known) and inquiring as to whether a current address may be provided by the employer; and

(5) Contacting the department of human services and inquiring if its records contain a current address of the obligee parent.

36-5-702. Agency to enforce orders - Notice of noncompliance.

(a)(1) In Title IV-D child support enforcement cases pursuant to this part, the department shall be deemed to be the agent of the court to enforce, on behalf of the court, the court's order of support which is in arrears by using the license revocation, denial, or suspension procedures provided herein.

(2) If the court's records maintained by the court clerk on the statewide Title IV-D child support computer system, or the department's records of court ordered support if the court clerk has elected, pursuant to § 36-5-101(a)(4)(C)(iii), not to participate in the statewide Title IV-D child support computer system, show that the obligor is in arrears and is not in compliance with an order of support, the department may serve upon an obligor a notice that informs the obligor of the department's intention to submit the obligor's name to the appropriate licensing authority as a licensee who is not in compliance with an order of support.

(b) The notice shall state that:

(1) The obligor may request an administrative hearing to contest the issue of compliance or contact the department to make an arrangement for the payment of the arrears which is satisfactory to the department;

(2) A request for a hearing must be made in writing and must be received by the department within twenty (20) days of service, or within twenty (20) days of service the obligor must contact the department or the local IV-D agency and pay the arrears or make an arrangement with the department for the payment of the arrears which is satisfactory to the department;

(3) If the obligor requests a hearing within twenty (20) days of service, the department shall stay the proceedings to certify the obligor to any appropriate licensing authority for noncompliance with an order of support pending a decision after a hearing. If the obligor contacts the department to make an arrangement for the payment of the arrears which is satisfactory to the department within such twenty (20) days, the department shall stay the proceedings to certify the obligor to any appropriate licensing authority for noncompliance with an order of support in accordance with the agreement entered into between the obligor and the department as provided in § 36-5-703(d);

(4) The proceedings will be dismissed if the obligor pays the arrears;

(5) If the obligor is not in compliance with an order of support and does not either request a hearing or make a satisfactory arrangement for payment with the department within twenty (20) days of service, the department may certify the obligor to any appropriate licensing authority for noncompliance with a court order of support; and

(6) If the department certifies the obligor to a licensing authority for noncompliance with an order of support, the licensing authority, notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, must deny a renewal request, revoke the obligor's license, or refuse to issue or reinstate a license, as the case may be, until the obligor provides the licensing authority with a release from the department that states the obligor is in compliance with the obligor's order of support.

(c) The notice to the obligor shall include the address and telephone number of the office of the department or its contractor that issues the notice and a statement of the need to obtain a release from that office as provided in § 36-5-707 in order to allow the obligor's license to be issued, renewed or reinstated. The notice shall be served by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by personal service with an affidavit of service completed by an authorized process server.

36-5-703. Administrative hearing - Certification of noncompliance.

(a) An obligor may request an administrative hearing upon receiving the notice described in § 36-5-702 to contest the department's intention to issue a finding of non-compliance to a licensing authority. The request for hearing must be made in writing and must be received by the department within twenty (20) days of the date the notice is served upon the obligee as shown by the return receipt or by the return on personal service.

(b) If a hearing is requested, the department shall conduct the hearing in accordance with the provisions of title 4, chapter 5, part 3 of the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, except that, notwithstanding any law to the contrary, the appeal of the department's administrative order based upon the hearing pursuant to this part shall be made by the obligor in accordance with the jurisdictional and judicial review provisions of § 36-5-1003; provided, that notwithstanding any law or rule to the contrary the sworn certificate of the department, or its agent, or the Title IV-D agency of another state, regarding the issues in subdivisions (c)(1) and (2), shall be admissible in evidence and shall constitute a rebuttable presumption of the obligor's status.

(c) The only issues for consideration at the administrative hearings shall be:

(1) Whether the licensee is an obligor required to pay child support under an I order of support;

(2) Whether the obligor is not in compliance with the order of support; and

(3) Whether good cause exists in that case as to whether the sanctions of this part should be imposed.

(d)(1) The department may enter into a consent order with the obligor, which is filed with the court, for payment of an arrearage owed by the obligor. Upon entry of such consent order by the court, the proceedings under this part as shown by the records pursuant to subdivision (d)(2). In the event of such shall be further stayed, unless there is noncompliance with such consent order noncompliance the stay shall cease and the procedures of subdivision (d)(2) shall be followed. Entry of such consent order shall constitute a waiver of the obligor's right to any hearing on the issue of noncompliance with an order of support based upon the notice of noncompliance for which the consent order has been entered.

(2) If the payment records of the clerk of the court or the department show that the obligor remains in arrears and is not in compliance with the consent order for repayment of the child support arrearage pursuant to subdivision (d)(1), the court, through the department, shall, in accordance with § 36-5-705, forthwith certify to each licensing authority which licenses the obligor that the obligor is not in compliance with an order of support.

36-5-706. Denial, suspension or revocation of license - Refusal to reinstate or reissue - Notice.

(a) Notwithstanding any other law, rule or regulation to the contrary, the certification from the department under § 36-5-705 shall be a basis for the denial, suspension or revocation of a license, or for refusal to issue or reinstate a license by a licensing authority.

(b) The licensing authority shall notify, without undue delay, by regular mail, an obligor certified from the department under § 36-5-705, that the obligor's application for the issuance, renewal or reinstatement of a license has been denied or that the obligor's current license has been suspended or revoked because the obligor's name has been certified by the department as an obligor who is not in compliance with an order of support.

(c) A notice of suspension must specify the reason and statutory grounds for the suspension and the effective date of the suspension and may include any other notices prescribed by the licensing authority. The notice must also inform the individual that in order to apply for issuance, renewal or reinstatement of the license, the individual must obtain a release from the department of human services in accordance with § 36-5-707.

(d) A notice to the obligor by the licensing authority to revoke, deny, suspend, or refuse to renew or reinstate a license after receipt of the notice of noncompliance from the department shall not be appealable under title 4, chapter 5, part 3 of the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act.

36-5-707. Effect of compliance by obligors who have been served notice.

(a) When an obligor who is served notice under § 36-5-702 complies with the order of support, the department shall provide the licensing authority with written or electronic data exchange confirmation that the obligor is in compliance with the order and issue a release to the obligor.

(b)(1) Upon receipt of the written confirmation of reasonable or full compliance, the licensing authority shall issue or extend the obligor's license, or withdraw any denial, revocation or suspension of the obligor's license; provided, that all other applicable licensing requirements are met by the obligor. If all other applicable licensing requirements are met by the obligor, the obligor shall not, however, be required to be re-tested or re-certified for a license which was valid and which was held in good standing by the obligor, or for which the obligor had been determined otherwise eligible by the licensing authority to receive, prior to the revocation or suspension or denial of such license pursuant to this part, and which license was revoked, suspended or denied solely pursuant to the provisions of this part.

(2) If, subsequent to the revocation, suspension or denial of the license, and prior to the date on which the next periodic licensing would be due, the license is restored or issued by the licensing authority due to reasonable or full compliance, the obligor shall not be required to pay a new periodic license fee for the period remaining before the next periodic licensing fee would be due; provided, that the licensing authority may impose a reasonable reinstatement fee not to exceed five dollars ($5.00) for processing of the restoration or issuance of the license at any time.

36-5-713. Noncompliance with support order to affect ability to hold other licenses.

(a) In addition to other qualifications for licensure or registration and conditions for continuing eligibility to hold a license as prescribed by law, rule or regulation issued under the provisions of titles 43, 44, 45, 55, 56, 62, 63, 68, 70 or 71, for an individual to engage in a profession, trade, occupation, business, or industry, to hunt or fish, or to operate any motor vehicle or other conveyance, applicants for licensure, certification or registration, and licensees renewing their licenses, and existing licensees, must not then be subject to a certification that the licensee is not in compliance with an order of support.

(b) The supreme court is encouraged to establish guidelines to suspend the license of an attorney who fails to comply with the requirements of §§ 36-5-701 - 36-5-707.

Chapter 6 Child Custody And Visitation

36-6-101. Decree for custody and support of child - Enforcement - Juvenile court jurisdiction - Presumption of parental fitness - Educational seminars.

(a)(1) In a suit for annulment, divorce or separate maintenance, where the custody of a minor child or minor children is a question, the court may, notwithstanding a decree for annulment, divorce or separate maintenance is denied, award the care, custody and control of such child or children to either of the parties to the suit or to both parties in the instance of joint custody or shared parenting, or to some suitable person, as the welfare and interest of the child or children may demand, and the court may decree that suitable support be made by the natural parents or those who stand in the place of the natural parents by adoption. Such decree shall remain within the control of the court and be subject to such changes or modification as the exigencies of the case may require.

(2)(A) Except as provided in the following sentence, neither a preference nor a presumption for or against joint legal custody, joint physical custody or sole custody is established, but the court shall have the widest discretion to order a custody arrangement that is in the best interest of the child. Unless the court finds by clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, there is a presumption that joint custody is in the best interest of a minor child where the parents have agreed to joint custody or so agree in open court at a hearing for the purpose of determining the custody of the minor child. For the purpose of assisting the court in making a determination whether an award of joint custody is appropriate, the court may direct that an investigation be conducted. The burden of proof necessary to modify an order of joint custody at a subsequent proceeding shall be by a preponderance of the evidence.

(B) If the issue before the court is a modification of the court's prior decree pertaining to custody, the petitioner must prove by a preponderance of the evidence a material change in circumstance. A material change of circumstance does not require a showing of a substantial risk of harm to the child. A material change of circumstance may include, but is not limited to, failures to adhere to the parenting plan or an order of custody and visitation or circumstances which make the parenting plan no longer in the best interest of the child.

(i) In each contested case, the court shall make such a finding as to the reason and the facts that constitute the basis for the custody determination,

(ii) Nothing contained within the provisions of this subdivision (a)(2) shall interfere with the requirement that parties to an action for legal separation, annulment, absolute divorce or separate maintenance incorporate a parenting plan into the final decree or decree modifying an existing custody order.

(iii) Nothing in this subsection (a) shall imply a mandatory modification to the child support order.

(C) If the issue before the court is a modification of the court's prior decree pertaining to a residential parenting schedule, then the petitioner must prove by a preponderance of the evidence a material change of circumstance affecting the child's best interest. A material change of circumstance does not require a showing of a substantial risk of harm to the child. A material change of circumstance for purposes of modification of a residential parenting schedule may include, but is not limited to, significant changes in the needs of the child over time, which may include changes relating to age; significant changes in the parent's living or working condition that significantly affect parenting; failure to adhere to the parenting plan; or other circumstances making a change in the residential parenting time in the best interest of the child.

(3) Except when the court finds it not to be in the best interests of the affected child, each order pertaining to the custody or possession of a child arising from an action for absolute divorce, divorce from bed and board or annulment shall grant to each parent the rights listed in subdivisions (3)(A)-(F) during periods when the child is not in that parent's possession or shall incorporate such rights by reference to a prior order. Other orders pertaining to custody or possession of a child may contain the rights listed in subdivisions (3)(A)-(F). The referenced rights are as follows:

(A) The right to unimpeded telephone conversations with the child at least twice a week at reasonable times and for reasonable durations;

(B) The right to send mail to the child which the other parent shall not open or censor;

(C) The right to receive notice and relevant information as soon as practicable but within twenty-four (24) hours of any event of hospitalization, major illness or death of the child;

(D) The right to receive directly from the child's school upon written request which includes a current mailing address and upon payment of reasonable costs of duplicating, copies of the child's report cards, attendance records, names of teachers, class schedules, standardized test scores and any other records customarily made available to parents;

(E) Unless otherwise provided by law, the right to receive copies of the child's medical, health or other treatment records directly from the physician or health care provider who provided such treatment or health care upon written request which contains a current mailing address and upon payment of reasonable costs of duplication; provided, that no person who receives the mailing address of a parent as a result of this requirement shall provide such address to the other parent or a third person;

(F) The right to be free of unwarranted derogatory remarks made about such parent or such parent's family by the other parent to or in the presence of the child;

(G) The right to be given at least forty-eight (48) hours notice, whenever possible, of all extra-curricular activities, and the opportunity to participate or observe, including, but not limited to, the following:

(i) School activities;

(ii) Athletic activities;

(iii) Church activities; and

(iv) Other activities as to which parental participation or observation would be appropriate;

(H) The right to receive from the other parent, in the event the other parent leaves the state with the minor child or children for more than two (2) days, an itinerary including telephone numbers for use in the event of an emergency; and

(I) The right of access and participation in education, including the right of access to the minor child or children for lunch and other activities, on the same basis that is provided to all parents, provided the participation or access is reasonable and does not interfere with day-to-day operations or with the child's educational performance.

Any of the foregoing rights may be denied in whole or in part to one or both parents by the court upon a showing that such denial is in the best interests of the child. Nothing herein shall be construed to prohibit the court from ordering additional rights where the facts and circumstances so require.

(4) Notwithstanding any common law presumption to the contrary, a finding under § 36-6-106(8), that child abuse, [as defined in § 39-15-401 or § 39-15-402], or child sexual abuse, [as defined in § 37-1-602], has occurred within the family shall give rise to a rebuttable presumption that it is detrimental to the child and not in the best interests of the child to award sole custody, joint legal or joint physical custody to the perpetrator of such abuse.

(b) Notwithstanding any provision of this section to the contrary, the party, or parties, or other person awarded custody and control of such child or children shall be entitled to enforce the provisions of the court's decree concerning the suitable support of such child or children in the appropriate court of any county in this state in which such child or children reside; provided, that such court shall have divorce jurisdiction, if service of process is effectuated upon the obligor within this state. Jurisdiction to modify or alter such decree shall remain in the exclusive control of the court which issued such decree.

(c) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to alter, modify or restrict the exclusive jurisdiction of the juvenile court pursuant to § 37-1-103.

(d) It is the legislative intent that the gender of the party seeking custody shall not give rise to a presumption of parental fitness or cause a presumption or constitute a factor in favor or against the award of custody to such party.

(e)(1) In an action for dissolution of marriage involving minor children, or in a post-judgment proceeding involving minor children, if the court finds, on a case by case basis, that it would be in the best interest of the minor children, the court may on its own motion, or on the motion of either party, order the parties, excluding the minor children, to attend an educational seminar concerning the effects of the dissolution of marriage on the children. The program may be divided into sessions, which in the aggregate shall not exceed four (4) hours in duration. The program shall be educational in nature and not designed for individual therapy.

(2) The fees or costs of the educational sessions under this section, which shall be reasonable, shall be borne by the parties and may be assessed by the court as it deems equitable. Fees may be waived upon motion for indigent persons.

(3) No court shall deny the granting of a divorce from the bonds of matrimony for failure of a party or both parties to attend the educational session. Refusal to attend the educational session may be punished by contempt and may be considered by the court as evidence of the parent's lack of good faith in proceedings under part 4 of this chapter.

36-6-104. Copy of child's report card - Furnishing to noncustodial or nonresident parents.

(a) Any parent who does not have custody of a child, or in the case of parents having joint custody of a child, the parent not residing with the child, or in the case of a child in the custody of a legal guardian, both parents, may request in writing that a copy of the child's report card, notice of school attendance, names of teachers, class schedules, standardized test scores and any other records customarily available to parents be furnished directly to such noncustodial or nonresident parent, and such request shall be accompanied by the parent's or parents' current mailing address, and the local education agency (LEA) shall send a copy of the report card, notice of school attendance, names of teachers, class schedules, standardized test scores and any other records customarily available to parents to such address.

(b) The LEA shall provide proof of a child's graduation from high school to the department of human services, the department's contractor, or either of the child's parents within twenty (20) business days of the department's, the department's contractor, or the parent's or parents' written request for such proof. The LEA shall not include any information that would violate any provisions protecting the child's privacy, or § 36-5-101(a)(4)(B)(iv).

(c) Any judge having jurisdiction over the custody of such a child may upon a showing of good cause deny any information concerning the residence of the child to the noncustodial or nonresident parent.

36-6-106. Child custody.

(a) In a suit for annulment, divorce, separate maintenance, or in any other proceeding requiring the court to make a custody determination regarding a minor child, such determination shall be made upon the basis of the best interest of the child. The court shall consider all relevant factors including the following where applicable:

(1) The love, affection and emotional ties existing between the parents and child;

(2) The disposition of the parents to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, education and other necessary care and the degree to which a parent has been the primary caregiver;

(3) The importance of continuity in the child's life and the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment; provided, that where there is a finding, under § 36-6-106 (8), of child abuse, as defined in § 39-15-401 or § 39-15-402, or child sexual abuse, as defined in § 37-1-602, by one (1) parent, and that a non-perpetrating parent has relocated in order to flee the perpetrating parent, that such relocation shall not weigh against an award of custody;

(4) The stability of the family unit of the parents;

(5) The mental and physical health of the parents;

(6) The home, school and community record of the child;

(7) The reasonable preference of the child if twelve (12) years of age or older. The court may hear the preference of a younger child upon request. The preferences of older children should normally be given greater weight than those of younger children;

(8) Evidence of physical or emotional abuse to the child, to the other parent or to any other person; provided, that where there are allegations that one (1) parent has committed child abuse, [as defined in § 39-15-401 or § 39-15-402], or child sexual abuse, [as defined in § 37-1-602], against a family member, the court shall consider all evidence relevant to the physical and emotional safety of the child, and determine, by a clear preponderance of the evidence, whether such abuse has occurred. The court shall include in its decision a written finding of all evidence, and all findings of facts connected thereto. In addition, the court shall, where appropriate, refer any issues of abuse to the juvenile court for further proceedings;

(9) The character and behavior of any other person who resides in or frequents the home of a parent and such person's interactions with the child; and

(10) Each parent's past and potential for future performance of parenting responsibilities, including the willingness and ability of each of the parents to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent, consistent with the best interest of the child.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of any law to the contrary, the court has jurisdiction to make an initial custody determination regarding a minor child or may modify a prior order of child custody upon finding that the custodial parent has been convicted of or found civilly liable for the intentional and wrongful death of the child's other parent or legal guardian.

36-6-107. Mediation in cases involving domestic abuse.

(a) In any proceeding concerning the custody of a child, if an order of protection issued in or recognized by this state is in effect or if there is a court finding of domestic abuse or any criminal conviction involving domestic abuse within the marriage which is the subject of the proceeding for divorce or separate support and maintenance, the court may order mediation or refer either party to mediation only if:

(1) Mediation is agreed to by the victim of the alleged domestic or family violence;

(2) Mediation is provided by a certified mediator who is trained in domestic and family violence in a specialized manner that protects the safety of the victim; and

(3) The victim is permitted to have in attendance at mediation a supporting person of the victim's choice, including, but not limited to, an attorney or No victim may provide monetary compensation to a non-attorney advocate. advocate for attendance at mediation.

(b) Where the court makes findings of child abuse or child sexual abuse under § 36-6-106 (8), the court may only award visitation under circumstances at guarantee the safety of the child. In order to guarantee the safety of the child, the court may order:

(1) That all visits be supervised by a responsible adult or agency, the costs to be primarily borne by the perpetrating parent;

(2) That the perpetrating parent attend and complete a program of counseling or other intervention as a precondition to visitation;

(3) That overnight visitation be prohibited until such time that the perpetrating parent has completed court ordered counseling or intervention, or otherwise demonstrated a change in circumstances that guarantees the safety of the child;

(4) That the address of the child and the non-perpetrating parent be kept confidential; and

(5) Any other conditions the court deems necessary and proper to guarantee the safety of the child.

36-6-108. Parental relocation.

(a) If a parent who is spending intervals of time with a child desires to relocate outside the state or more than one hundred (100) miles from the other parent within the state, the relocating parent shall send a notice to the other parent at the other parent's last known address by registered or certified mail. Unless excused by the court for exigent circumstances, the notice shall be mailed not later than sixty (60) days prior to the move. The notice shall contain the following:

(1) Statement of intent to move;

(2) Location of proposed new residence;

(3) Reasons for proposed relocation; and

(4) Statement that the other parent may file a petition in opposition to the move within thirty (30) days of receipt of the notice.

(b) Unless the parents can agree on a new visitation schedule, the relocating parent shall file a petition seeking to alter visitation. The court shall consider all relevant factors, including those factors enumerated within subsection (d). The court shall also consider the availability of alternative arrangements to foster and continue the child's relationship with and access to the other parent. The court shall assess the costs of transporting the child for visitation and determine whether a deviation from the child support guidelines should be considered in light of all factors including, but not limited to, additional costs incurred for transporting the child for visitation.

(c) If the parents are actually spending substantially equal intervals of time with the child and the relocating parent seeks to move with the child, the other parent may, within thirty (30) days of receipt of notice, file a petition in opposition to removal of the child. No presumption in favor of or against the request to relocate with the child shall arise. The court shall determine whether or not to permit relocation of the child based upon the best interests of the child. The court shall consider all relevant factors including the following where applicable:

(1) The extent to which visitation rights have been allowed and exercised;

(2) Whether the primary residential parent, once out of the jurisdiction, is likely to comply with any new visitation arrangement;

(3) The love, affection and emotional ties existing between the parents and child;

(4) The disposition of the parents to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, education and other necessary care and the degree to which a parent has been the primary caregiver;

(5) The importance of continuity in the child's life and the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment;

(6) The stability of the family unit of the parents;

(7) The mental and physical health of the parents;

(8) The home, school and community record of the child;

(9) The reasonable preference of the child if twelve (12) years of age or older. The court may hear the preference of a younger child upon request. The preferences of older children should normally be given greater weight than those of younger children;

(10) Evidence of physical or emotional abuse to the child, to the other parent or to any other person; and

(11) The character and behavior of any other person who resides in or frequents the home of a parent and such person's interactions with the child.

(d) If the parents are not actually spending substantially equal intervals of time with the child and the parent spending the greater amount of time with the child proposes to relocate with the child, the other parent may, within thirty (30) days of receipt of the notice, file a petition in opposition to removal of the child. The other parent may not attempt to relocate with the child unless expressly authorized to do so by the court pursuant to a change of custody or primary custodial responsibility. The parent spending the greater amount of time with the child shall be permitted to relocate with the child unless the court finds:

(1) The relocation does not have a reasonable purpose;

(2) The relocation would pose a threat of specific and serious harm to the child which outweighs the threat of harm to the child of a change of custody; or

(3) The parent's motive for relocating with the child is vindictive in that it is intended to defeat or deter visitation rights of the non-custodial parent or the parent spending less time with the child. Specific and serious harm to the child includes, but is not limited to, the following:

(1) If a parent wishes to take a child with a serious medical problem to an area where no adequate treatment is readily available;

(2) If a parent wishes to take a child with specific educational requirements to an area with no acceptable education facilities;

(3) If a parent wishes to relocate and take up residence with a person with a history of child or domestic abuse or who is currently abusing alcohol or other drugs;

(4) If the child relies on the parent not relocating who provides emotional support, nurturing and development such that removal would result in severe emotional detriment to the child;

(5) If the custodial parent is emotionally disturbed or dependent such that the custodial parent is not capable of adequately parenting the child in the absence of support systems currently in place in this state, and such support system is not available at the proposed relocation site; or

(6) If the proposed relocation is to a foreign country whose public policy does not normally enforce the visitation rights of non-custodial parents, which does not have an adequately functioning legal system or which otherwise presents a substantial risk of specific and serious harm to the child.

(e) If the court finds one (1) or more of the grounds designated in subsection (d), the court shall determine whether or not to permit relocation of the child based on the best interest of the child. If the court finds it is not in the best interests of the child to relocate as defined herein, but the parent with whom the child resides the majority of the time elects to relocate, the court shall make a custody determination and shall consider all relevant factors including the following where applicable:

(1) The extent to which visitation rights have been allowed and exercised;

(2) Whether the primary residential parent, once out of the jurisdiction, is likely to comply with any new visitation arrangement;

(3) The love, affection and emotional ties existing between the parents and child;

(4) The disposition of the parents to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, education and other necessary care and the degree to which a parent has been the primary caregiver;

(5) The importance of continuity in the child's life and the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment;

(6) The stability of the family unit of the parents;

(7) The mental and physical health of the parents;

(8) The home, school and community record of the child;

(9) The reasonable preference of the child if twelve (12) years of age or older. The court may hear the preference of a younger child upon request. The preferences of older children should normally be given greater weight than those of younger children;

(10) Evidence of physical or emotional abuse to the child, to the other parent or to any other person; and

(11) The character and behavior of any other person who resides in or frequents the home of a parent and such person's interactions with the child. The court shall consider the availability of alternative arrangements to foster and continue the child's relationship with and access to the other parent. The court shall assess the costs of transporting the child for visitation, and determine whether a deviation from the child support guidelines should be considered in light of all factors including, but not limited to, additional costs incurred for transporting the child for visitation.

(f) Nothing in this section shall prohibit either parent from petitioning the court at any time to address issues, (such as, but not limited to visitation), other than a change of custody related to the move. In the event no petition in opposition to a proposed relocation is filed within thirty (30) days of receipt of the notice, the parent proposing to relocate with the child shall be permitted to do so.

(g) It is the legislative intent that the gender of the parent who seeks to relocate for the reason of career, educational, professional, or job opportunities, or otherwise, shall not be a factor in favor or against the relocation of such parent with the child.

36-6-110. Rights of non-custodial parents.

(a) Except when the juvenile court or other appropriate court finds it not to be in the best interests of the affected child, upon petition by a non-custodial, biological parent for whom parental rights have not been terminated, the court shall grant the following parental rights:

(1) The right to unimpeded telephone conversations with the child at least twice a week at reasonable times and for reasonable durations;

(2) The right to send mail to the child which the custodial parent or guardian shall not open or censor;

(3) The right to receive notice and relevant information as soon as practicable but within twenty-four (24) hours of any event of hospitalization, major illness or death of the child;

(4) The right to receive directly from the child's school, (upon written request which includes a current mailing address and upon payment of reasonable costs of duplication), copies of the child's report cards, attendance records, names of teachers, class schedules, standardized test scores and any other records customarily made available to parents;

(5) The right to receive copies of the child's medical records directly from the child's doctor or other health care provider, (upon written request which contains a current mailing address and upon payment of reasonable costs of duplication); and

(6) The right to be free of unwarranted derogatory remarks about the non-custodial, biological parent, or such parent's family, made by the custodial parent or guardian to or in the presence of the child.

(b) Any of the foregoing rights may be denied in whole or in part by the court upon a showing that such denial is in the best interests of the child.

36-6-112. Protective parent reform.

(a) This section shall be known as and may be cited as the "Protective Parent Reform Act."

(b) In any case involving child custody and visitation in which a judge, in the judge's discretion, appoints a guardian ad litem, Rule 40 of the Tennessee Rules of the Supreme Court regarding the role of the guardian ad litem shall be followed as applicable to the case.

(c) If a parent makes a good faith allegation based on a reasonable belief supported by facts that the child is the victim of child abuse, child neglect, or the effects of domestic violence, and if that parent acts lawfully and in good faith in response to that reasonable belief to protect the child or seek treatment for the child, then that parent shall not be deprived of custody, visitation, or contact with the child, or restricted in custody, visitation, or contact, based solely on that belief or the reasonable actions taken based on that belief.

(d) If an allegation that a child is abused is supported by a preponderance of the evidence, then the court shall consider such evidence of abuse in determining the visitation arrangement that is in the best interest of the child, and the court shall not place a child in the custody of a parent who presents a substantial risk of harm to that child.

36-6-301. Visitation.

After making an award of custody, the court shall, upon request of the non-custodial parent, grant such rights of visitation as will enable the child and the non-custodial parent to maintain a parent-child relationship unless the court finds, after a hearing, that visitation is likely to endanger the child's physical or emotional health. In granting any such rights of visitation, the court shall designate in which parent's home each minor child shall reside on given days of the year, including provisions for holidays, birthdays of family members, vacations and other special occasions. If the court finds that the non-custodial parent has physically or emotionally abused the child, the court may require that visitation be supervised or prohibited until such abuse has ceased or until there is no reasonable likelihood that such abuse will recur. The court may not order the department of children's services to provide supervision of visitation pursuant to this section except in cases where the department is the petitioner or intervening petitioner in a case in which the custody or guardianship of a child is at issue.

36-6-302. Grandparents' visitation rights.

(a), (b) [Deleted by 1997 amendment.]

(c)(1)(A) If a child is removed from the custody of the child's parents, guardian or legal custodian; and

(B) If a child is placed in a licensed foster home, a facility operated by a licensed child care agency, or other home or facility designated or operated by the court, whether such placement is by court order, voluntary placement agreement, surrender of parental rights, or otherwise;

(2) Then, the grandparents of such child may be granted reasonable visitation rights to the child during such child's minority by the court of competent jurisdiction upon a finding that:

(A) Such visitation rights would be in the best interest of the minor child;

(B) The grandparents would adequately protect the child from further abuse or intimidation by the perpetrator or any other family member;

(C) The grandparents were not implicated in the commission of any alleged act against such child or of their own children that under the law in effect prior to November 1, 1989, would constitute the criminal offense of:

(i) Aggravated rape under § 39-2-603 [repealed];

(ii) Rape under § 39-2-604 [repealed];

(iii) Aggravated sexual battery under § 39-2-606 [repealed];

(iv) Sexual battery under § 39-2-607 [repealed];

(v) Assault with intent to commit rape or attempt to commit rape or sexual battery under § 39-2-608 [repealed];

(vi) Crimes against nature under § 39-2-612 [repealed];

(vii) Incest under § 39-4-306 [repealed];

(viii) Begetting child on wife's sister under § 39-4-307 [repealed];

(ix) Use of minor of obscene purposes under § 39-6-1137 [repealed]; or

(x) Promotion of performance including sexual conduct by minor under § 39-6-1138 [repealed]; and

(D) The grandparents are not implicated in the commission of any alleged act against such child or of their own children that under the law in effect on or after November 1, 1989, would constitute the criminal offense of:

(i) Aggravated rape under § 39-13-502;

(ii) Rape under § 39-13-503;

(iii) Aggravated sexual battery under § 39-13-504;

(iv) Sexual battery under § 39-13-505;

(v) Criminal attempt for any of the offenses listed above as provided in § 39-12-101;

(vi) Incest under § 39-15-302;

(vii) Sexual exploitation of a minor under § 39-17-1003;

(viii) Aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor under § 39-17-1004; or

(ix) Especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor under § 39-17-1005.

(d) This section shall not apply in any case in which the child has been adopted by any person other than a stepparent or other relative of the child.

36-6-303. Visitation rights of stepparents.

(a) In a suit for annulment, divorce or separate maintenance where one (1) party is a stepparent to a minor child born to the other party, such stepparent may be granted reasonable visitation rights to such child during its minority by the court of competent jurisdiction upon a finding that such visitation rights would be in the best interests of the minor child and that such stepparent is actually providing or contributing towards the support of such child.

(b) Such decree shall remain within the control of the court and be subject to such changes or modification as the exigencies of the case require.

36-6-304. Exposure of child to nudist colony prohibited.

No person who has been granted visitation rights to a child shall, during the child's minority, expose the child to any facility organized or operated as a nudist colony without the consent of the custodial parent. Any court of competent jurisdiction shall have the ability to enforce these provisions and enjoin violations of this section through the full extent of the court's civil and criminal contempt powers.

36-6-305. Mediation in cases involving domestic abuse.

In any proceeding concerning the visitation of a child, if an order of protection issued in or recognized by this state is in effect or if there is a court finding of domestic abuse or any criminal conviction involving domestic abuse within the marriage which is the subject of the proceeding for divorce or separate support and maintenance, the court may order mediation or refer either party to mediation only if:

(1) Mediation is agreed to by the victim of the alleged domestic or family violence;

(2) Mediation is provided by a certified mediator who is trained in domestic and family violence in a specialized manner that protects the safety of the victim; and

(3) The victim is permitted to have in attendance at mediation a supporting person of the victim's choice, including, but not limited to, an attorney or advocate. No victim may provide monetary compensation to a non-attorney advocate for attendance at mediation.

36-6-306. Visitation rights of grandparents.

(a) Any of the following circumstances, when presented in a petition for grandparent visitation to the circuit or chancery court of the county in which the petitioned child currently resides, necessitates a hearing if such grandparent visitation is opposed by the custodial parent or parents:

(1) The father or mother of an unmarried minor child is deceased;

(2) The child's father or mother are divorced, legally separated, or were never married to each other;

(3) The child's father or mother has been missing for not less than six (6) months;

(4) The court of another state has ordered grandparent visitation;

(5) The child resided in the home of the grandparent for a period of twelve (12) months or more and was subsequently removed from the home by the parent or parents (this grandparent-grandchild relationship establishes a rebuttable presumption that denial of visitation may result in irreparable harm to the child); or

(6) The child and the grandparent maintained a significant existing relationship for a period of twelve (12) months or more immediately preceding severance of the relationship, this relationship was severed by the parent or parents for reasons other than abuse or presence of a danger of substantial harm to the child, and severance of this relationship is likely to occasion substantial emotional harm to the child.

(b)(1) In considering a petition for grandparent visitation, the court shall first determine the presence of a danger of substantial harm to the child. Such finding of substantial harm may be based upon cessation of the relationship between an unmarried minor child and the child's grandparent if the court determines, upon proper proof, that:

(A) The child had such a significant existing relationship with the grandparent that loss of the relationship is likely to occasion severe emotional harm to the child;

(B) The grandparent functioned as a primary caregiver such that cessation of the relationship could interrupt provision of the daily needs of the child and thus occasion physical or emotional harm; or

(C) The child had a significant existing relationship with the grandparent and loss of the relationship presents the danger of other direct and substantial harm to the child.

(2) For purposes of this section, a grandparent shall be deemed to have a significant existing relationship with a grandchild if:

(A) The child resided with the grandparent for at least six (6) consecutive months;

(B) The grandparent was a full-time caretaker of the child for a period of not less than six (6) consecutive months; or

(C) The grandparent had frequent visitation with the child who is the subject of the suit for a period of not less than one (1) year.

(3) A grandparent is not required to present the testimony or affidavit of an expert witness in order to establish a significant existing relationship with a grandchild or that the loss of the relationship is likely to occasion severe emotional harm to the child. Instead, the court shall consider whether the facts of the particular case would lead a reasonable person to believe that there is a significant existing relationship between the grandparent and grandchild or that the loss of the relationship is likely to occasion severe emotional harm to the child.

(c) Upon an initial finding of danger of substantial harm to the child, the court shall then determine whether grandparent visitation would be in the best interests of the child based upon the factors in § 36-6-307. Upon such determination, reasonable visitation may be ordered.

(d)(1) Notwithstanding the provisions of § 36-1-121, if a relative or stepparent adopts a child, the provisions of this section apply.

(2) If a person other than a relative or a stepparent adopts a child, any visitation rights granted pursuant to this section before the adoption of the child shall automatically end upon such adoption.

(e) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, as used in this section and in § 36-6-307, with regard to the petitioned child, the word "grandparent" includes, but is not limited to:

(1) A biological grandparent;

(2) The spouse of a biological grandparent; or

(3) A parent of an adoptive parent.

36-6-307. Determination of best interests of child for grandparent visitations.

In determining the best interests of the child under § 36-6-306, the court shall consider all pertinent matters, including, but not necessarily limited to, the following:

(1) The length and quality of the prior relationship between the child and the grandparent and the role performed by the grandparent;

(2) The existing emotional ties of the child to the grandparent;

(3) The preference of the child if the child is determined to be of sufficient maturity to express a preference;

(4) The effect of hostility between the grandparent and the parent of the child manifested before the child, and the willingness of the grandparent, except in case of abuse, to encourage a close relationship between the child and the parent or parents, or guardian or guardians of the child;

(5) The good faith of the grandparent in filing the petition;

(6) If the parents are divorced or separated, the time-sharing arrangement that exists between the parents with respect to the child; and

(7) If one (1) parent is deceased or missing, the fact that the grandparents requesting visitation are the parents of the deceased or missing person.

36-6-401. Findings

(a) Parents have the responsibility to make decisions and perform other parental duties necessary for the care and growth of their minor children. In any proceeding between parents under this chapter, the best interests of the child shall be the standard by which the court determines and allocates the parties' parental responsibilities. The general assembly recognizes the detrimental effect of divorce on many children and that divorce, by its nature, means that neither parent will have the same access to the child as would have been possible had they been able to maintain an intact family. The general assembly finds the need for stability and consistency in children's lives. The general assembly also has an interest in educating parents concerning the impact of divorce on children. The general assembly recognizes the fundamental importance of the parent-child relationship to the welfare of the child, and the relationship between the child and each parent should be fostered unless inconsistent with the child's best interests. The best interests of the child are served by a parenting arrangement that best maintains a child's emotional growth, health and stability, and physical care.

(b) The general assembly finds that mothers and fathers in families are the backbone of this state and this nation. They teach children right from wrong, respect for others, and the value of working hard to make a good life for themselves and for their future families. Most children do best when they receive the emotional and financial support of both parents. The general assembly finds that a different approach to dispute resolution in child custody and visitation matters is useful.

36-6-402. Definitions

As used in this part, unless the context requires otherwise:

(1) "Dispute resolution" means the mediation process or alternative dispute resolution process in accordance with Supreme Court Rule 31 unless the parties agree otherwise. For the purposes of this part, such process may include: mediation, the neutral party to be chosen by the parties or the court; arbitration, the neutral party to be chosen by the parties or the court; or a mandatory settlement conference presided over by the court or a special master.

(2) "Parenting responsibilities" means those aspects of the parent-child relationship in which the parent makes decisions and performs duties necessary for the care and growth of the child. "Parenting responsibilities," the establishment of which is the objective of a permanent parenting plan, include:

(A) Providing for the child's emotional care and stability, including maintaining a loving, stable, consistent, and nurturing relationship with the child and supervising the child to encourage and protect emotional, intellectual, moral, and spiritual development;

(B) Providing for the child's physical care, including attending to the daily needs of the child, such as feeding, clothing, physical care, and grooming, supervision, health care, and day care, and engaging in other activities which are appropriate to the developmental level of the child and that are within the social and economic circumstances of the particular family;

(C) Providing encouragement and protection of the child's intellectual and moral development, including attending to adequate education for the child, including remedial or other education essential to the best interests of the child;

(D) Assisting the child in developing and maintaining appropriate interpersonal relationships;

(E) Exercising appropriate judgment regarding the child's welfare, consistent with the child's developmental level and the family's social and economic circumstances; and

(F) Providing any financial security and support of the child in addition to child support obligations;

(3) "Permanent parenting plan" means a written plan for the parenting and best interests of the child, including the allocation of parenting responsibilities and the establishment of a Residential Schedule, as well as an award of child support consistent with title 36, chapter 5;

(4) "Primary residential parent" means the parent with whom the child resides more than fifty percent (50%) of the time; and

(5) "Residential schedule" is the schedule of when the child is in each parent's physical care, and it shall designate the primary residential parent; in addition, the residential schedule shall designate in which parent's home each minor child shall reside on given days of the year, including provisions for holidays, birthdays of family members, vacations, and other special occasions, consistent with the criteria of this part; provided, that nothing contained herein shall be construed to modify any provision of § 36-6-108;

(6) "Temporary parenting plan" means a plan for the temporary parenting and the best interests of the child, including the establishment of a temporary residential schedule, and the establishment of temporary financial support designed to maintain the financial status quo to the extent possible, consistent with title 36, chapter 5, and the guidelines thereunder.

36-6-403. Requirement of and procedure for determining temporary parenting plan

Except as may be specifically provided otherwise herein a temporary parenting plan shall be incorporated in any temporary order of the court in actions for absolute divorce, legal separation, annulment, or separate maintenance involving a minor child. A temporary parenting plan shall comply with those provisions for a permanent parenting plan under § 36-6-404 (a) that are applicable for the time frame and shall include a residential schedule as described in § 36-6-404 (b). The court shall approve a temporary parenting plan as follows:

(1) If the parties can agree to a temporary parenting plan, no written temporary parenting plan is required to be entered; or

(2) If the parties cannot agree to a temporary parenting plan, either or both parties may request the court to order dispute resolution. The court may immediately order the parties to participate in dispute resolution to establish a temporary parenting plan unless one (1) of the restrictions in § 36-6-406 (a) exists. If dispute resolution is not available either party may request and the court may order an expedited hearing to establish a temporary parenting plan. In either mediation or in a hearing before the Court each party shall submit a proposed temporary parenting plan and a verified statement of income as defined by title 36, chapter 5, and a verified statement that the plan is proposed in good faith and is in the best interest of the child. If only one (1) party files a proposed temporary parenting plan in compliance with this section, that party may petition the court for an order adopting that party's plan by default, upon a finding by the court that the plan is in the child's best interest. In determining whether the proposed temporary parenting plan serves the best interests of the child, the court shall be governed by the allocation of residential time and support obligations contained in the child support guidelines and related provisions in title 36, chapter 5.

36-6-404. Requirement of and procedure for determining permanent parenting plan.

(a) Any final decree or decree of modification in an action for absolute divorce, legal separation, annulment, or separate maintenance involving a minor child shall incorporate a permanent parenting plan; provided, however, that this part shall be inapplicable to parties who were divorced prior to July 1, 1997, and thereafter return to court to enter an agreed order modifying terms of the previous court order. A permanent parenting plan shall:

(1) Provide for the child's changing needs as the child grows and matures, in a way that minimizes the need for further modifications to the permanent parenting plan;

(2) Establish the authority and responsibilities of each parent with respect to the child, consistent with the criteria in this part;

(3) Minimize the child's exposure to harmful parental conflict;

(4) Provide for a process for dispute resolution, before court action, unless precluded or limited by § 36-6-406; provided, that state agency cases are excluded from the requirement of dispute resolution as to any child support issue involved. In the process for dispute resolution:

(A) Preference shall be given to carrying out the parenting plan;

(B) The parents shall use the designated process to resolve disputes relating to the implementation of the plan;

(C) A written record shall be prepared of any agreement reached in mediation, arbitration, or settlement conference and shall be provided to each party to be drafted into a consent order of modification;

(D) If the court finds that a parent willfully failed to appear at a scheduled dispute resolution process without good reason, the court may, upon motion, award attorney fees and financial sanctions to the prevailing parent;

(E) The provisions of this subsection (a) shall be set forth in the decree; and

(F) Nothing in this part shall preclude court action, if required to protect the welfare of the child or a party;

(5) Allocate decision-making authority to one (1) or both parties regarding the child's education, health care, extracurricular activities, and religious upbringing. The parties may incorporate an agreement related to the care and growth of the child in these specified areas, or in other areas, into their plan, consistent with the criteria in this part. Regardless of the allocation of decision making in the parenting plan, the parties may agree that either parent may make emergency decisions affecting the health or safety of the child;

(6) Provide that each parent may make the day-to-day decisions regarding the care of the child while the child is residing with that parent;

(7) Provide that when mutual decision making is designated but cannot be achieved, the parties shall make a good-faith effort to resolve the issue through the appropriate dispute resolution process, subject to the exception set forth in subdivision (a)(4)(F);

(8) Require the obligor to report annually on a date certain to the obligee, and the department of human services or its contractor in Title IV-D cases, on a form provided by the court, the obligor's income as defined by the child support guidelines and related provisions contained in title 36, chapter 5; and

(9) Specify that if the driver license of a parent is currently expired, canceled, suspended or revoked or if the parent does not possess a valid driver license for any other reason, the parent shall make acceptable transportation arrangements as may be necessary to protect and ensure the health, safety and welfare of the child when such child is in the custody of such parent.

(b) Any permanent parenting plan shall include a residential schedule as defined in § 36-6-402(3). The court shall make residential provisions for each child, consistent with the child's developmental level and the family's social and economic circumstances, which encourage each parent to maintain a loving, stable, and nurturing relationship with the child. The child's residential schedule shall be consistent with this part. If the limitations of § 36-6-406 are not dispositive of the child's residential schedule, the court shall consider the following factors:

(1) The parent's ability to instruct, inspire, and encourage the child to prepare for a life of service, and to compete successfully in the society which the child faces as an adult;

(2) The relative strength, nature, and stability of the child's relationship with each parent, including whether a parent has taken greater responsibility for performing parenting responsibilities relating to the daily needs of the child;

(3) The willingness and ability of each of the parents to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent, consistent with the best interests of the child;

(4) Willful refusal to attend a court-ordered parent education seminar may be considered by the court as evidence of that parent's lack of good faith in these proceedings;

(5) The disposition of each parent to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, education and other necessary care;

(6) The degree to which a parent has been the primary caregiver, defined as the parent who has taken the greater responsibility for performing parental responsibilities;

(7) The love, affection, and emotional ties existing between each parent and the child;

(8) The emotional needs and developmental level of the child;

(9) The character and physical and emotional fitness of each parent as it relates to each parent's ability to parent or the welfare of the child;

(10) The child's interaction and interrelationships with siblings and with significant adults, as well as the child's involvement with the child's physical surroundings, school, or other significant activities;

(11) The importance of continuity in the child's life and the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment;

(12) Evidence of physical or emotional abuse to the child, to the other parent or to any other person;

(13) The character and behavior of any other person who resides in or frequents the home of a parent and such person's interactions with the child;

(14) The reasonable preference of the child if twelve (12) years of age or older. The court may hear the preference of a younger child upon request. The preference of older children should normally be given greater weight than those of younger children;

(15) Each parent's employment schedule, and the court may make accommodations consistent with those schedules; and

(16) Any other factors deemed relevant by the court.

(c) The court shall approve a permanent parenting plan as follows:

(1) Upon agreement of the parties:

(A) With the entry of a final decree or judgment; or

(B) With a consent order to modify a final decree or judgment involving a minor child;

(2) If the parties cannot reach agreement on a permanent parenting plan, upon the motion of either party, or upon its own motion, the court may order appropriate dispute resolution proceedings pursuant to Rule 31 of the Rules of the Supreme Court, to determine a permanent parenting plan; or

(3) If the parties have not reached agreement on a permanent parenting plan on or before forty-five (45) days before the date set for trial, each party shall file and serve a proposed permanent parenting plan, even though the parties may continue to mediate or negotiate. Failure to comply by a party may result in the court's adoption of the plan filed by the opposing party if the court finds such plan to be in the best interests of the child. In determining whether the proposed plan is in the best interests of the child, the court may consider the allocation of residential time and support obligations contained in the child support guidelines and related provisions contained in chapter 5 of this title. Each parent submitting a proposed permanent parenting plan shall attach a verified statement of income pursuant to the child support guidelines and related provisions contained in title 36, chapter 5, and a verified statement that the plan is proposed in good faith and is in the best interest of the child.

36-6-405. Modifying permanent parenting plans

(a) In a proceeding for a modification of a permanent parenting plan, a proposed parenting plan shall be filed and served with the petition for modification and with the response to the petition for modification. Such plan is not required if the modification pertains only to child support. The obligor parent's proposed parenting plan shall be accompanied by a verified statement of that party's income pursuant to the child support guidelines and related provisions contained in chapter 5 of this title. The process established by § 36-6-404 (b) shall be used to establish an amended permanent parenting plan or final decree or judgment.

(b) Title IV-D child support cases involving the department of human services or any of its public or private contractors shall be bifurcated from the remaining parental responsibility issues. Separate orders shall be issued concerning Title IV-D issues, which shall not be contained in, or part of, temporary, permanent or modified parenting plans. The department and its public or private contractors shall not be required to participate in mediation or dispute resolution pursuant to this part.

36-6-406. Restrictions in temporary or permanent parenting plans

(a) The permanent parenting plan and the mechanism for approval of the permanent parenting plan shall not utilize dispute resolution, and a parent's residential time as provided in the permanent parenting plan or temporary parenting plan shall be limited if it is determined by the court, based upon a prior order or other reliable evidence, that a parent has engaged in any of the following conduct:

(1) Willful abandonment that continues for an extended period of time or substantial refusal to perform parenting responsibilities; or

(2) Physical or sexual abuse or a pattern of emotional abuse of the parent, child or of another person living with that child as defined in § 36-3-601.

(b) The parent's residential time with the child shall be limited if it is determined by the court, based upon a prior order or other reliable evidence, that the parent resides with a person who has engaged in physical or sexual abuse or a pattern of emotional abuse of the parent, child or of another person living with that child as defined in § 36-3-601.

(c) If a parent has been convicted as an adult of a sexual offense under § 39-15-302, title 39, chapter 17, part 10, or §§ 39-13-501 - 39-13-511, or has been found to be a sexual offender under title 39, chapter 13, part 7, the court shall restrain the parent from contact with a child that would otherwise be allowed under this part. If a parent resides with an adult who has been convicted, or with a juvenile who has been adjudicated guilty of a sexual offense under § 39-15-302, title 39, chapter 17, part 10, or § 39-13-501 - 39-13-511, or who has been found to be a sexual offender under title 39, chapter 13, part 7, the court shall restrain that parent from contact with the child unless the contact occurs outside the adult's or juvenile's presence and sufficient provisions are established to protect the child.

(d) A parent's involvement or conduct may have an adverse effect on the child's best interest, and the court may preclude or limit any provisions of a parenting plan, if any of the following limiting factors are found to exist after a hearing:

(1) A parent's neglect or substantial nonperformance of parenting responsibilities;

(2) An emotional or physical impairment which interferes with the parent's performance of parenting responsibilities as defined in § 36-6-402;

(3) An impairment resulting from drug, alcohol, or other substance abuse that interferes with the performance of parenting responsibilities;

(4) The absence or substantial impairment of emotional ties between the parent and the child;

(5) The abusive use of conflict by the parent which creates the danger of damage to the child's psychological development;

(6) A parent has withheld from the other parent access to the child for a protracted period without good cause;

(7) A parent's criminal convictions as they relate to such parent's ability to parent or to the welfare of the child; or

(8) Such other factors or conduct as the court expressly finds adverse to the best interests of the child.

(e) In entering a permanent parenting plan, the court shall not draw any presumptions from the provisions of the temporary parenting plan.

(f)(1) In all Title IV-D child or spousal support cases in which payment of support is to be made by income assignment, or otherwise, and in all cases where payments made by income assignment based upon support orders entered on or after January 1, 1994, that are not Title IV-D support cases but must be made to the central collection and disbursement unit as provided by § 36-5-116, and, except as may otherwise be allowed by § 36-5-501(a)(2)(B), the court shall only approve a temporary or permanent parenting plan involving the payment of support that complies with the requirements for central collection and disbursement as required by § 36-5-116. Prior to approval of a parenting plan in which payments are to be made directly to the spouse or the court clerk or to some other person or entity, there shall be filed with the plan presented to the court a written certification, under oath if filed by a party, or signed by the party's counsel, stating whether the case for which the plan is to be approved is a Title IV-D support case subject to enforcement by the department of human services or is otherwise subject to collection through the department's central collection and disbursement unit established by § 36-5-116.

(2) Any provision of any parenting plan, agreement or court order providing for any other payment procedure contrary to the requirements of § 36-5-116, except as may otherwise be allowed by 36-5-501(a)(2)(B), whether or not approved by the court, shall be void and of no effect. No credit for support payments shall be given by the court, the court clerk or the department of human services for child or spousal support payments required by the support order that are made in contravention of such requirements; provided, however, the department may make any necessary adjustments to the balances owed to account for changes in the Title IV-D or central collection and disbursement status of the support case.

(g) Forms used by parties as parenting plans or adopted by the court for their use, shall conform to all substantive language requirements established by the administrative office of the courts at such time as parenting plan forms are promulgated and approved by that office.

36-6-407. Allocation of parenting responsibilities

(a) The court shall approve agreements of the parties allocating parenting responsibilities, or specifying rules, if it finds that:

(1) The agreement is consistent with any limitations on a parent's decision-making authority mandated by § 36-6-406;

(2) The agreement is knowing and voluntary; and

(3) The agreement is in the best interest of the child and is agreed to by the guardian ad litem, if one has been appointed by the court.

(b) The court may consider a parent's refusal, without just cause, to attend a court-ordered parental educational seminar in making an award of sole decision-making authority to the other parent. The court shall order sole decision-making to one (1) parent when it finds that:

(1) A limitation on the other parent's decision-making authority is mandated by § 36-6-406;

(2) Both parents are opposed to mutual decision making; or

(3) One (1) parent is opposed to mutual decision making, and such opposition is reasonable in light of the parties' inability to satisfy the criteria for mutual decision-making authority.

(c) Except as provided in subsections (a) and (b), the court shall consider the following criteria in allocating decision-making authority:

(1) The existence of a limitation under § 36-6-406;

(2) The history of participation of each parent in decision making in each of the following areas: physical care, emotional stability, intellectual and moral development, health, education, extracurricular activities, and religion; and whether each parent attended a court ordered parent education seminar;

(3) Whether the parents have demonstrated the ability and desire to cooperate with one another in decision making regarding the child in each of the following areas: physical care, emotional stability, intellectual and moral development, health, education, extracurricular activities, and religion; and

(4) The parents' geographic proximity to one another, to the extent that it affects their ability to make timely mutual decisions.

36-6-408. Parent educational seminar

(a) In an action where a permanent parenting plan is or will be entered, each parent shall attend a parent educational seminar as soon as possible after the filing of the complaint. The seminar shall educate parents concerning how to protect and enhance the child's emotional development and informing the parents regarding the legal process. The seminar shall also include a discussion of alternative dispute resolution, marriage counseling, the judicial process, and common perpetrator attitudes and conduct involving domestic violence. The program may be divided into sessions, which in the aggregate shall not be less than four (4) hours in duration. The seminar shall be educational in nature and not designed for individual therapy. The minor children shall be excluded from attending these sessions. The requirement of attendance at such a seminar may be waived upon motion by either party and the agreement of the court upon the showing of good cause for such relief.

(b) The fees or costs of the educational sessions under this section, which shall be reasonable, shall be borne by the parties and may be assessed by the court as it deems equitable. Such fees may be waived for indigent persons.

(c) No court shall deny the granting of a divorce from the bonds of matrimony for failure of a party or both parties to attend the educational session.

36-6-409. Procedures and restrictions applicable to dispute resolution.

The following procedures and restrictions are applicable to the use of the dispute resolution process under this part:

(1) Each neutral party, the court, or the special master shall apply or, in the case of mediation, assist the parties to uphold as a standard for making decisions in mediation, the criteria in this part. Nothing in this part shall be construed to prevent a party from having the party's attorney present at a mediation or other dispute resolution procedure.

(2) The Tennessee rules of evidence do not apply in any mediation or alternative dispute resolution process; the neutral party may rely upon evidence submitted that reasonably prudent persons would rely upon in the conduct of their affairs.

(3) When dispute resolution is utilized in this chapter, it shall be preceded by a pretrial conference and the attendance by parents at the parent education seminar set forth in § 36-6-408.

(4) The court shall not order a dispute resolution process, except court action, if the court:

(A) Finds that any limiting factor under § 36-6-406 applies;

(B) Finds that either parent is unable to afford the cost of the proposed dispute resolution process, unless such cost is waived or subsidized by the state;

(C) Enters a default judgment against the defendant; or

(D) Preempts such process upon motion of either party for just cause.

(5) If an order of protection issued in or recognized by this state is in effect or if there is a court finding of domestic abuse or criminal conviction involving domestic abuse within the marriage which is the subject of the proceeding for divorce or separate support and maintenance, the court may order mediation or refer the parties to mediation only if:

(A) Mediation is agreed to by the victim of the alleged domestic or family violence;

(B) Mediation is provided by a certified mediator who is trained in domestic and family violence in a specialized manner that protects the safety of the victim; and

(C) The victim is permitted to have in attendance at mediation a supporting person of the victim's choice, including, but not limited to, an attorney or advocate. No victim may provide monetary compensation to a non-attorney advocate for attendance at mediation. The other party may also have in attendance at mediation a supporting person of such party's choice, including, but not limited to, an attorney or advocate.

(6) If a dispute resolution process is not precluded or limited, then in designating such a process the court shall consider all relevant factors, including:

(A) Differences between the parents that would substantially inhibit their effective participation in any designated process;

(B) The parents' wishes or agreements and, if the parents have entered into agreements, whether the agreements were made knowingly and voluntarily; and

(C) The financial circumstances of the parties to pay for alternative dispute resolution processes where court sanctioned alternative dispute resolution programs are unavailable.

36-6-410. Designation of custody for the purpose of other state and federal statutes

Solely for the purpose of all other state and federal statutes and any applicable policies of insurance which require a designation or determination of custody, a parenting plan shall designate the parent with whom the child is scheduled to reside a majority of the time as the custodian of the child; provided, that this designation shall not affect either parent's rights and responsibilities under the parenting plan. In the absence of such a designation, the parent with whom the child is scheduled to reside a majority of the time shall be deemed to be the custodian for the purposes of such federal and state statutes.

36-6-501. Definitions.

As used in this part, unless the context otherwise requires:

(1) "License" means a license, certification, registration, permit, approval or other similar document issued to an individual evidencing admission to or granting authority to engage in a profession, trade, occupation, business, or industry, or to hunt or fish, but does not include a license to practice law unless the supreme court establishes guidelines pursuant to § 36-6-511 making the provisions of this part applicable to such license; "license" does not include a license to operate any motor vehicle or other conveyance;

(2) "Licensee" means any individual holding a license, certification, registration, permit, approval, or other similar document evidencing admission to or granting authority to engage in a profession, trade, occupation, business, or industry, or to hunt or fish. "Licensee" does not include an attorney only with respect to the attorney's license to practice law unless the supreme court establishes guidelines pursuant to § 36-6-511 making the provisions of this part applicable to such license;

(3) "Licensing authority" means the board, commission, or agency, excluding the department of safety, which has been established by statute or state regulation to oversee the issuance and regulation of any license. Excluded from this definition is the supreme court, unless the supreme court acts in accordance with § 36-6-511, and any licensing authority established solely by the action and authority of a county or municipal government;

(4) "Not in compliance with an order of visitation" means that one parent has intentionally interfered with implementation of a schedule of court ordered visitation on two (2) or more occasions in any six-month period; and

(5) "Order of visitation" means any order granting a non-custodial parent the right to visit with such parent's child on days and times determined by the court.

36-6-502. Compliance with visitation orders; enforcement.

(a) In all cases where visitation is ordered, both parents shall comply with such order of visitation by turning over custody of the child on the days and at the times so ordered by the court and by picking up the child and returning the child on the days and at the times so ordered by the court.

(b) An order of visitation may be enforced by using the license revocation, denial or suspension procedures provided in this part and any other sanctions deemed appropriate by the court.

(c) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, if the driver license of a parent is currently canceled, suspended or revoked pursuant to title 55, chapter 10, part 4, or title 55, chapter 50, part 5, and if such parent personally drives a motor vehicle to the location where the parent is scheduled to take custody of a child pursuant to a valid order of visitation or parenting plan, then the parent or other person having custody of the child may refuse to turn over custody of the child under the circumstances and such refusal shall not constitute a violation of subsection (a).

36-6-503. Petition court for intentional violation of parent - Serving notice.

(a) A parent, who has been victimized by the other parent's intentional violation of § 36-6-502 (a) on two (2) or more occasions within any six-month period, may petition the court having jurisdiction over the order of visitation for a finding that the other parent is not in compliance with an order of visitation; provided, prior to the most recent violation, the victimized parent must have notified the other parent, by certified mail, return receipt requested, that subsequent violations of the court-ordered visitation shall be subject to sanctions authorized by this part and a copy of such notification. must have been filed with the court. The petitioner shall include within the petition any information concerning a license held by the other parent and covered by § 36-6-511. A notice shall be served on the other parent together with the petition. Such notice shall state that:

(1) The parent may request a hearing to contest the issue of compliance;

(2) A request for a hearing must be made in writing and must be received by the court within twenty (20) days of service;

(3) If such parent requests a hearing within twenty (20) days of service, the court shall stay the proceedings to certify such parent to any appropriate licensing authority for noncompliance with an order of visitation pending a decision after the hearing;

(4) If the court finds that such parent is not in compliance with an order of visitation or such parent does not request a hearing within twenty (20) days of service, the court may certify such parent to any appropriate licensing authority for noncompliance with a court order of visitation; and

(5) If the court certifies such parent to a licensing authority for noncompliance with an order of visitation, the licensing authority, notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, must deny a renewal request, revoke such parent's license or refuse to issue or reinstate a license, as the case may be, until such parent provides the licensing authority with a release from the court pursuant to § 36-6-508 that states such parent is in compliance with the order of visitation.

(b) The notice sent pursuant to this section shall also include a statement informing such parent of the need to obtain a release from the court in order to allow such parent's license to be issued, renewed or reinstated. The notice shall be served by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by personal service with an affidavit of service completed by an authorized process server.

36-6-504. Determination of contesting the court's intention.

(a) If a parent requests a hearing pursuant to this part to contest the court's intention to issue a finding of noncompliance to a licensing authority, the court shall conduct the hearing only to determine:

(1) Whether the licensee is a parent subject to an order of visitation;

(2) Whether the licensee is not in compliance with an order of visitation; and

(3) Whether good cause exists to impose the licensing sanctions provided for in this part.

(b) The parties may enter into a consent order wherein the parent in violation agrees to henceforth comply with the order of visitation. Upon entry of such an order the proceedings for licensing sanctions shall be further stayed unless there is noncompliance with the consent order. In the event of noncompliance with the consent order, the stay shall cease and the court shall certify to each affected licensing authority that such parent is not in compliance with an order of visitation. Entry of such consent order shall constitute a waiver of such parent's right to any hearing on the issue of noncompliance with an order of visitation based upon the notice of noncompliance for which the consent order has been entered.

(c) The cost of this action and reasonable attorney's fees shall be taxed to the parent who is not in compliance with an order of visitation. The cost of this action and reasonable attorney's fees shall be assessed against any parent who, in bad faith, petitions the court for imposition of sanctions pursuant to this part.

36-6-505. Requesting hearing for noncompliance.

(a) If a parent timely requests a hearing to contest the issue of compliance, the court shall stay the action and may not certify the name of such parent to any licensing authority for noncompliance with an order of visitation until the court issues a written decision after a hearing that finds such parent is not in compliance with an order of visitation; provided, that after a decision by the court has been made in the form of a final order as provided in § 4-5-315, there will be no further stay unless a reviewing court issues a stay which stay shall be automatic upon the filing of a notice of appeal.

(b) The court shall issue its decision after hearing without undue delay. The order must inform both parents that either party may file an appeal of the decision within thirty (30) days of the date of the decision. A certification concerning the status of a license shall be automatically stayed pending disposition of an appeal.

(c) Upon a finding of noncompliance, the court may also allocate additional time with the child to the non-offending parent.

(d) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, the court shall assess costs of an unsuccessful appeal of notice of noncompliance to the parent in noncompliance.

36-6-506. Determining noncompliance of visitation.

The court may certify in writing or by electronic data exchange to each licensing authority that the offending parent is not in compliance with an order of visitation if:

(1) Such parent does not timely request a hearing upon service of notice issued under § 36-6-503;

(2) Such parent has not entered into a consent order as provided for in § 36-6-504, or having entered into such an order, has failed to comply with such an order;

(3) The court issues a decision after a hearing pursuant to this part that finds such parent is not in compliance with an order of visitation; or

(4) In any proceeding to enforce any provision of an order of visitation, the court finds a parent to be not in compliance with the order of visitation and the other parent specifically prayed for relief in the form of license revocation, denial or suspension.

36-6-507. Denial, suspension or revocation of a license.

(a) Notwithstanding any other law, rule or regulation to the contrary, the certification from the court under § 36-6-506 shall be a basis for the denial, suspension or revocation of a license, or for refusal to issue, renew, or reinstate a license by a licensing authority.

(b) The licensing authority shall notify, without undue delay, by regular mail, a parent certified from the court under § 36-6-506, that the parent's application for the issuance, renewal or reinstatement of a license has been denied or that the parent's current license has been suspended or revoked because the parent's name has been certified by the court as a parent who is not in compliance with an order of visitation.

(c) A notice of suspension shall specify the reason and statutory grounds for the suspension and the effective date of the suspension and may include any other notices prescribed by the licensing authority. The notice shall also inform the individual that in order to apply for issuance, renewal or reinstatement of the license, the individual shall obtain a release from the court in accordance with § 36-6-508.

(d) If a licensing authority fails to deny, suspend or revoke a license when so ordered by a court pursuant to this part, the other parent may petition the court to compel the authority's compliance.

(e) A notice to the individual by the licensing authority to revoke, deny, suspend, or refuse to renew or reinstate a license after receipt of the court certification under this section shall not be appealable under title 4, chapter 5, part 3 of the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act.

36-6-508. Compliance of order; release from the court.

(a) When a parent who is served notice under § 36-6-503, or whose license was otherwise revoked, denied or suspended by order of the court, complies with the order of visitation, the court shall provide the licensing authority with written or electronic data exchange confirmation that the parent is in compliance with the order and issue a release to the parent. For purposes of lifting the licensing sanctions pursuant to this section, a parent will be considered in compliance with an order of visitation upon fully complying with such order for the next four (4) consecutive scheduled visitation periods after the finding by the court of noncompliance.

(b)(1) Upon receipt of the release from the court, the licensing authority shall issue or extend the parent's license, or withdraw any denial, revocation or suspension of the parent's license; provided, that all other applicable licensing requirements are met by the parent. If all other applicable licensing requirements are met by the parent, the parent shall not, however, be required to be re-tested or re-certified for a license which was valid and which was held in good standing by the parent, or for which the parent had been determined otherwise eligible by the licensing authority to receive, prior to the revocation or suspension or denial of such license pursuant to this part, and which license was revoked, suspended or denied solely pursuant to the provisions of this part.

(2) If, after the revocation, suspension or denial of the license, and before the date on which the next periodic licensing would be due, the license is restored or issued by the licensing authority due to a release, the parent shall not be required to pay a new periodic license fee for the period remaining before the next periodic licensing fee would be due; provided, the licensing authority may impose a reasonable reinstatement fee not to exceed five dollars ($5.00) for processing of the restoration or issuance of the license at any time.

36-6-510. Filing of motions.

Nothing in this part prohibits a custodial or non-custodial parent from filing a motion with the court to modify an order of visitation or a custody order.

36-6-511. Qualifications for licensure or registration; eligibility.

(a) In addition to other qualifications for licensure or registration and conditions for continuing eligibility to hold a license as prescribed by law, rule or regulation issued under the provisions of title 43, 44, 45, 56, 62, 63, 68, 70 or 71, for an individual to engage in a profession, trade, occupation, business, or industry, or to hunt or fish, applicants for licensure, certification or registration, and licensees renewing their licenses, and existing licensees, must not then be subject to a certification that the licensee is not in compliance with an order of visitation.

(b) The supreme court is encouraged to establish guidelines to suspend the license of an attorney who fails to comply with an order of visitation.