21 May 2012

Tennessee Father Owes Child Support Interest Absent Reason for Waiver

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Case summary on Tennessee child support law and interest on arrearages in Tennessee divorce and family law from Tennessee Court of Appeals.

State of Tennessee EX REL Marsha Campbell V Jeffrey D Penuel Sr.

In the case of Marsha Campbell and Jeffrey Penuel Sr, the concern is the reduction of interest charged to the arrearage Mr. Penuel accumulated while not paying child support payments for his two children. The two were formerly married and divorced in November of 1999. The divorce required that Mr. Penuel pay $200 per week in support for the two children of the marriage.

During the years following, Mr. Penuel did not maintain his child support payments and this lead to the accumulation of an arrearage. Ms. Campbell initially filed suit seeking payment and Mr. Penuel requested a reduction in the support obligations. At the first filing of such a request in January of 2003, the court reduced his support payments to $337.38 bi-weekly but required a bi-weekly payment of $62.62 on the $12,950 in arrearage he had accumulated to that point.

Ms. Campbell filed a second petition in October 2005 alleging the failing of Mr. Penuel to make payments as required. He responded with another request to reduce payments. The court ordered him to pay an additional $18,256.45 in arrearage, for a total owed of $31,206.45. He agreed to do so. The court required him to pay $745.68 per month for child support payments and a portion of the arrearage.

In June of 2006, he requested a reduction in support payments alleging the oldest child would reach the age of maturity. The court granted that. In June 2009, he again filed a request to have the child support payments stop as the youngest child reached the age of maturity. At that time, the support payments were to stop but the court found that he needed to continue making payment on the arrearages owed. The unpaid balance at that time was $19,903.14. However, the court waived interest on the arrearage. The State moved to reconsider the waiver of interest which accounts for $10,089.88, though the court denied the motion. The State brought forth the appeal on the basis that the interest should not be waived.

The appeal court ruled that the court did not make any findings of fact and did not otherwise provide an explanation as to why it waived interest on the arrearage. Therefore, without a basis to understand why this was done, the appeals court ruled that Mr. Penuel be required to pay the full arrearage of $19,903.14 as well as an interest rate of 12 percent from the date of the arrearage occurred. That amount was to be determined by the lower court.

Filed January 20, 2012, Appeal from the Circuit Court for Sumner County, No 19756, C.L. Rogers, Judge.

Memphis divorce lawyer, Miles Mason, Sr., JD, CPA practices family law exclusively and is founder of the Miles Mason Family Law Group, PLC, which handles family law matters including divorce, child support, alimony, prenuptial agreements, child custody, parental relocation, child support modification, and alimony modification.

Disclaimer: See original opinion for exact language.  Legal citations omitted.

Miles Mason

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Memphis divorce and family lawyer, Miles Mason, Sr. is the founder of Miles Mason Family Law Group, PLC. For more information about our professional staff, see our Meet the Team page.

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