September 6, 2006
Case Law Development: Trial Court Errs in Basing Custody Solely on Statements of Four-Year-Old
The Tennessee Court of Appeals reversed a decision transferring custody of a 4 1/2 year old child from Mother to Father. Mother had restricted Father's visitation with child after she received opinions from two professionals that the child had likely been sexually abused by father. The trial court, however, interviewed the four year old, who maintained that she had lied about the abuse, and based his decision "almost entirely" on that interview. Despite two different experts who testified that the child had likely been abused, the trial court stated, "There's nothing that has been said by anybody that is going to overcome what that child said to me." Thus, finding that no abuse had occurred, the court transferred custody to Father based on Mother's interference with visitation.
The court of appeals reversed, finding that "the evidence simply does not support the findings by the trial court that are pivotal to the issues of custody, visitation, contempt and attorney fees."
In re C.A.R., 2006 Tenn. App. LEXIS 583 (August 30, 2006)
Opinion on web (last visited Sept. 5, 2006 bgf)
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