Order of Protection

Order of Protection Generally

Except as indicated, all indented material is copied directly from the court’s opinion.

Decisions of the Tennessee Supreme Court

Decisions of the Tennessee Court of Appeals

Wininger v. Wininger, No. E2021-01296-COA-R3-CV, p. 5-6 (Tenn. Ct. App. Sept. 14, 2022). 

As stated by our Supreme Court,

In a non-jury case such as this one, appellate courts review the trial court’s factual findings de novo upon the record, accompanied by a presumption of the correctness of the findings, unless the preponderance of the evidence is otherwise. See Tenn. R. App. P. 13(d); Armbrister v. Armbrister, 414 S.W.3d 685, 692 (Tenn. 2013). We review the trial court’s resolution of questions of law de novo, with no presumption of correctness.

Kelly v. Kelly, 445 S.W.3d 685, 691-92 (Tenn. 2014). The trial court’s determinations regarding witness credibility are entitled to great weight on appeal and shall not be disturbed absent clear and convincing evidence to the contrary. See Morrison v. Allen, 338 S.W.3d 417, 426 (Tenn. 2011); Jones v. Garrett, 92 S.W.3d 835, 838 (Tenn. 2002). This is “[b]ecause the trial court is in the best position to judge the parties’ credibility during live testimony at trial.” Larsen-Ball v. Ball, No. E2020-00297-COA-R3-CV, 2021 WL 3854802, at *12 (Tenn. Ct. App. Aug. 30, 2021), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Dec. 8, 2021).

With respect to issues regarding the admission or exclusion of evidence, appellate courts review the trial court’s determinations under an abuse of discretion standard. Brown v. Crown Equip. Corp., 181 S.W.3d 268, 273 (Tenn. 2005); Mercer v. Vanderbilt Univ., Inc., 134 S.W.3d 121, 131 (Tenn. 2004). As we have previously explained:

Under this standard, we are required to uphold the trial court’s ruling “as long as reasonable minds could disagree about its correctness.” Caldwell v. Hill, 250 S .W.3d 865, 869 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2007). So, “we are not permitted to substitute our judgment for that of the trial court.” Id. An appellate court “will set aside a discretionary decision only when the trial court has misconstrued or misapplied the controlling legal principles or has acted inconsistently with the substantial weight of the evidence.” White v. Vanderbilt Univ., 21 S.W.3d 215, 223 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1999). We review a trial court’s discretionary decision to determine: “(1) whether the factual basis for the decision is supported by the evidence, (2) whether the trial court identified and applied the applicable legal principles, and (3) whether the trial court’s decision is within the range of acceptable alternatives.” Id.

Jackson v. Lanphere, No. M2010-01401-COA-R3-CV, 2011 WL 3566978, at *2 (Tenn. Ct. App. Aug. 12, 2011).


Schanzenbach v. Skeen, No. E2020-01198-COA-R3-CV, p. 3-4 (Tenn. Ct. App. Aug. 26, 2022); see also Schanzenbach v. Hanzlik, No. E2020-01195-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Aug. 16, 2022).

The trial court may issue an order of protection if “the petitioner has proven the allegation of domestic abuse, stalking or sexual assault by a preponderance of the evidence.” Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-3-605(b). “Proving an allegation by a preponderance of the evidence requires a litigant to convince the trier-of-fact that the allegation is more likely true than not true.” McEwen v. Tenn. Dep’t of Safety, 173 S.W.3d 815, 825 n.19 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2005) (citing Austin v. City of Memphis, 684 S.W.2d 624, 634-35 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1984)).

We review this non-jury case de novo upon the record, with a presumption of correctness as to the findings of fact unless the preponderance of the evidence is otherwise. Tenn. R. App. P. 13(d). This presumption of correctness applies only to findings of fact and not to conclusions of law. Campbell v. Fla. Steel Corp., 919 S.W.2d 26, 35 (Tenn. 1996). The trial court’s conclusions of law are subject to a de novo review with no presumption of correctness. Blackburn v. Blackburn, 270 S.W.3d 42, 47 (Tenn. 2008); Union Carbide Corp. v. Huddleston, 854 S.W.2d 87, 91 (Tenn. 1993). The trial court’s determinations regarding witness credibility are entitled to great weight on appeal and shall not be disturbed absent clear and convincing evidence to the contrary. Morrison v. Allen, 338 S.W.3d 417, 426 (Tenn. 2011).

To the extent that this case requires that we construe statutes, our review is also de novo. Freeman v. Marco Transp. Co., 27 S.W.3d 909, 911-12 (Tenn. 2000) (“Issues of statutory construction are questions of law and shall be reviewed de novo without a presumption of correctness.”). In construing statutes, we keep the following guidance in mind:

Our resolution of this issue is guided by the familiar rules of statutory construction. Our role is to determine legislative intent and to effectuate legislative purpose. The text of the statute is of primary importance, and the words must be given their natural and ordinary meaning in the context in which they appear and in light of the statute’s general purpose. When the language of the statute is clear and unambiguous, courts look no farther to ascertain its meaning. When necessary to resolve a statutory ambiguity or conflict, courts may consider matters beyond the statutory text, including public policy, historical facts relevant to the enactment of the statute and the entire statutory scheme. However, these non-codified external sources “cannot provide a basis for departing from clear codified statutory provisions.”

Dallas v. Shelby Cnty. BOE, 603 S.W.3d 32, 37 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2019) (quoting Mills v. Fulmarque, Inc., 360 S.W.3d 362, 368 (Tenn. 2012) (citations omitted)).


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