Courtroom Should Decide if Default Divorce Judgment Was Correct

Tennessee case abstract on default judgments in divorce.

Harmon L. Maddox v. Tajuana Rochell Maddox

The husband on this Montgomery County, Tennessee, filed for divorce based mostly upon irreconcilable distinction and inappropriate marital conduct.  The spouse didn’t file a solution, and the husband filed for default.  The husband was granted the divorce, and the spouse was ordered to pay alimony of $800 monthly for 18 months.  The husband was additionally awarded half of the spouse’s funding account for the time of the wedding.

In 2020, the husband filed for contempt, arguing that the spouse had by no means made the required funds.  In 2021, the spouse filed a movement to put aside the default on the grounds that she was by no means personally served with the criticism.  She additionally identified that she had by no means resided in Tennessee.  Service of course of allegedly passed off on the handle of a child bathe in Indianapolis that the spouse had attended, however she supplied an affidavit that she was by no means served, and her daughter supplied an affidavit stating that she was unaware of any papers being served.  The spouse’s movement was denied, as was a movement to rethink.  The spouse then appealed to the Tennessee Courtroom of Appeals.

After stating the usual of evaluation, the appeals court docket started by declaring that default judgments will not be favored, and {that a} judgment with out private or subject-matter jurisdiction is void.  It then turned to the necessities for service of course of.  It famous that the husband had supplied two affidavits concerning service, however they each had totally different Indianapolis addresses.  As a result of this discrepancy, and in gentle of the coverage favoring trials versus defaults, the appeals court docket held that the case needs to be remanded for a listening to to make sure that service was correct.

The appeals court docket did warn, nonetheless, that even when the court docket lacked jurisdiction, the judgment would possibly nonetheless be legitimate if the social gathering having discover of it handled it as legitimate.  However since these info weren’t within the document, the appeals court docket held that the decrease court docket would want to contemplate such points.

For these causes, the decrease court docket’s judgment was reversed and the case remanded.  The prices of the enchantment have been assessed towards the husband.

The appellate court docket’s opinion was written by Choose Andy D. Bennett.

No. M2021-00609-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. July 28, 2022).

See unique opinion for actual language.  Authorized citations omitted.

To be taught extra, see The Tennessee Divorce Course of: How Divorces Work Begin to End.