March 2021 | No. M2019-02305-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. App. 2021)

Lillard v. Lillard (Tennessee 2021)

Child support can continue for beyond the age of 21 for children who are severely disabled; living under parental supervision, which is in the child’s best interests; and the obligor has the financial ability to pay support. The mother petitioned the court to modify child support and declare the child severely disabled. At hearing, the mother testified as to the daughter’s IQ, diagnosis, and her inability to live independently. The daughter hadn’t been able to hold a job, relied on the mother for transportation, and couldn’t manage money. She feared other people and couldn’t remember to perform basic personal care. The father cited her graduation from high school, ability to perform basic household tasks, and competition of a certificate program as reasons to stop support. The district court granted the mother’s motion and set support. To set support, the court considered income from the daughter, mother, and the father. The father appealed. The appellate court upheld the order. The father argued the evidence didn’t show a severe disability, the final order lacked required findings, and the daughter was voluntarily underemployed. The mother and daughter’s testimony met the requirements for the definition of a severe disability. As for the required finding, the appellate court noted it was obvious the daughter lived with her mother, and the evidence supported this arrangement served her best interests. The appellate court also found the trial court used the proper amount of income for the daughter. The court relied on testimony from her current employer as to her skills and abilities.

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