January 2019 | No. W2016-01953-COA-R3-JV (Tenn. Ct. App. 2019)

State of Tennessee ex rel. Groesse v. Sumner (Tennessee 2019)

For a contempt finding in a child support case, the parent must willfully not pay the support despite having the ability to pay. The father appealed a finding of contempt against him. The grounds on appeal included: whether the court applied the proper evidentiary standard, the appropriateness of a de novo rehearing, whether the presentation of evidence during the de novo rehearing violated his due process rights, and whether the trial court appropriately found he had the ability to pay the order. The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s decision. As an overall matter, the appellate court found the evidence supported the trial court’s finding of willful nonpayment and that the father had the ability to pay. The appellate court recognized that the father had other obligations, but it found that he also had resources to pay and gave his child support low priority. The appellate court also found no merit in the father’s arguments regarding the de novo rehearing.

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